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Gnocchi: Everything About the Pasta Shape

Is it pasta? Is it a dumpling? Gnocchi is one of the most wonderfully unique pasta varieties out there. 

Gnocchi gets its name from the Italian word “nocchio” which means “knot in wood”. It is a delightfully unique pasta a lot of people love to cook with, due to its unique taste and texture that comes from its special ingredient: potatoes. 

In this article, we’ll cover everything there is to know about gnocchi pasta and provide delicious recipes you can try yourself. Let’s dive in!

Gnocchi: Origin and Meaning

Here’s a table with essential facts about Gnocchi: 

Pasta Shape:Gnocchi
Pasta Type:Pasta Dumpling
Length:Varies
Width:Varies
Thickness:Varies
Origin:Northern Italy
Meaning:Derived from the Italian word, “nocchio” which means “knot in wood”
Synonyms:Njoki
Similar Shapes:Cavatelli

Where Did Gnocchi Originate?

Gnocchi was first heard of back in the 16th century, when it was being served in carnivals around Italy. It was so popular that they even named a special day after it– a celebration called “Venerdì Gnocolar” which translates to Gnocchi Friday. 

Since then, this pasta has evolved into a variety of forms. Some recipes even include special components such as breadcrumbs, squash, and even cheese.

What Does Gnocchi Mean?

The word “gnocchi” is thought to have different origins. Its name is derived from two Italian words: first, “nocchio,” which means “a knot in wood,” and second, “nocca,” which means “knuckle,” both of which refer to its bumpy, ribbed appearance and shape.

What is the Difference Between Gnocchi and Cavatelli?

Though these two pasta varieties may seem similar, the ingredients used to make gnocchi and cavatelli are different from one another. The dough for gnocchi pasta is made using flour, potatoes, or ricotta. Cavatelli pasta, on the other hand, is made from semolina/flour and water. Due to their similarities in shape, these two can occasionally be mistaken for one another.

Traditional Dishes Suitable for Gnocchi Pasta

Here are some traditional dishes you can make with gnocchi pasta:

Baked Gnocchi with Pesto Parmesan Bechamel

This creamy, baked gnocchi dish features a pesto béchamel made with fresh basil and spinach. This hearty, Italian dish only takes 20 to 30 minutes to cook, and is perfect for your weeknight meals.

Pumpkin and Sage Baked Gnocchi

This quick and delicious pasta meal just needs about 25 to 30 minutes to make. The trick to making these baked gnocchi is to roast the pumpkin beforehand so that its sweetness will go well with the pancetta’s saltiness, though streaky bacon would also be tasty in this recipe.

These simple but delicious dishes are just a few ways you can enjoy gnocchi pasta.  

Final Thoughts 

Gnocchi is a uniquely delightful pasta variety that everyone should try at least once. The potatoes in the pasta dough add a distinct texture and flavor that marries well with light or creamy sauces. If you’re looking for a new dish to wow your dinner guests, give gnocchi a try!

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