It Took Me 20 Years to Pin Down Grandma's Gnocchi

June  1, 2018

It's Italy Week! All week long, we're celebrating everything Italian and Italy-inspired: recipes, stories, and travel tips.

Every so often, we scour the site for cool recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature. This one comes from cdilaura, who shares a favorite recipe from her grandmother that's simple, satisfying, and make-ahead friendly.

Yes, homemade gnocchi can be a weeknight dinner. Photo by Ty Mecham

I grew up going to my Italian grandmother's every Sunday for dinner. I have fond memories of handmade pasta drying on a rack, big pots of sauce simmering away on the stove and stinky hard Italian cheeses that I loved to snack on, even as a child. But my most favorite Sundays at Grandma's were the Sundays when she made her gnocchi.

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For many years she used potato, but then wised up to the ease and lightness of using ricotta instead. It took about 20 years before I finally pinned her down and made her write the recipe that had always been made by memory and feel. Isn't that how all Italian grandmother's cook?

It’s a fairly easy process. First, mix egg, ricotta cheese, and oil together, then add the grated parmesan cheese and sprinkle with nutmeg to taste. Once you sift and mix the flour in, form a ball and cut off slices of dough like cutting a loaf of bread. Roll into thumb-sized-thick ropes by spreading out your hands and fingers and rolling from center out to each edge of the rope.

To cut the gnocchi, line your ropes parallel to one another and cut two at a time into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece off the back of a fork to make imprints that will help hold the sauce.

Freezing is not necessary if you are cooking right away, but it does help prevent them from sticking together when you add to the water. All you really need is about 10-15 minutes to give them a chance to firm up on the outside before dropping in the pot. If you aren't going to make them right away, it's important to let them freeze on the tray first so that they don't stick together when you store in a bag or container for future use, since they are so soft and delicate.

As soon as you're ready to cook, they should go straight from the freezer to the boiling pot (no defrosting) and will cook in essentially the same amount of time. Nice thing to have on hand for a midweek meal!

Do you have a recipe that's been passed down in your family? Or one you want to make sure your future generations make? Let us know in the comments and it might be featured as one of our heirloom recipes!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Linda Safianwhite
    Linda Safianwhite
  • Austin Burges
    Austin Burges
Some people were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, mine was wooden. With an Italian heritage on one side and a Lebanese heritage on the other, good food was never hard to find. I grew up with Sunday dinners at Grandma’s, big pots of sauce simmering away on the stove all day and hand cut pasta drying on the rack in the basement. The perfume of lemon, garlic, garden grown herbs and other fresh ingredients always scented our family kitchens. So it is no surprise that my love for fresh, hand-prepared food is something I now love to share with new and old friends. Because of that, I put on my apron, sharpened my knives and started a blog and NYC supper club called [email protected] to continue spreading the good food love.


Linda S. June 6, 2018
I absolutely love the stories on website. This one is wonderful. I am looking forward to trying this recipe..I am not an accomplished cook but I think I can do this. June 2, 2018
My mom passed early this spring. This was a favorite recipe from her mither, one she made often throughout her life. I make it often, too, as does my sister. And now that our kids are grown, we've passed it to them.
Austin B. June 1, 2018
It really is a quality recipe.