Gnocchi are little bites of heaven. These Italian pillowy dough dumplings–usually made from flour and eggs mixed with potato or ricotta, then gently boiled–are light and chewy, cozy and comforting, soft and satisfying. They’re so delightful that you’ll probably never have leftovers, and you’ll definitely wish you could eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (maybe even dessert!). That’s why we asked top chefs how to do exactly that–when you’re in the mood for something fun and funky, here are ideas for getting your gnocchi fix for every meal.
Eggs go into gnocchi dough, so it’s technically a breakfast food, right?! We think so, and Christina Bartoli, executive chef of Gelso and Grand in New York City, agrees. “That’s the great thing about gnocchi–it’s the perfect starch to fill you up for the day,” she says. Hear, hear! In general, swap out toast or hashbrowns for gnocchi. Sauteed it with your go-to omelet fillings and top with your favorite form of yolky egg. Or for some extra inspo, take a page out of Bartoli’s book: Saute gnocchi in a pan with rendered bacon bits, diced apple, scallions, and caramelized onions. Finish with a poached egg and garnish with fresh thyme and chives.
Another mouthwatering idea–use sweet potatoes to make gnocchi the night before. Then the next morning, sauteed them with crumbled breakfast sausage, caramelized onions, sage, and top with an egg.
Gnocchi = the most epic salad mix-in. Simply toss a few on top of your favorite Mediterranean-inspired salad, dress with a vinaigrette, and devour. If you’re feeling fancy, try Bartoli’s gnocchi “croutons.” Toast gnocchi in the oven with butter, garlic, and parmesan until slightly crispy. Then add to a kale salad with pickled onions, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, and a creamy dressing. “This will really send those taste buds ablaze,” she says.
Or, make a gnocchi “pasta” salad. Throw room temp gnocchi and chopped fresh veggies in a bowl, then toss with a balsamic, red wine, or lemon vinaigrette. Combining cooled gnocchi with green peas, pine nuts, fresh basil and mint, pesto, and lemon juice would also be divine.
What’s better than mac ‘n’ cheese? Gnocchi mac n’ cheese, says Alex Guarnaschelli, Food Network star and executive chef of Butter restaurant in New York City. “It’s one of the top dishes at butter and it’s very easy to make at home,” she says. Simply use gnocchi instead of elbows with your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe, or to get it palate-tickling perfect, follow Guarnaschelli’s recipe in her cookbook “The Home Cook.”
If you desire something less cheesy (we don’t know why you would, but to each his own!), Bartoli says gnocchi and fall-apart-in-your-mouth stewed meat is a match made in Italian heaven. “Make a ragu, I like to use lamb shoulder, with lots of onion, garlic, celery, and carrot that’s cooked down with red wine and tomatoes,” Bartoli says. “Smother a mound of gnocchi with it, then finish with chili peppers, ricotta, and hazelnuts to bring interesting textures to the dish. All those flavors get soaked into the gnocchi, making it a really wonderful and hearty dish.”
Yep, you can even eat gnocchi for dessert. Saute it with butter, powdered sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a pinch of sea salt.
Then eat it alone, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or with a dollop of grilled or stewed fruit.
Related Video: How to Make Gnocchi with Christian Hermsdorf