International cuisine website “Saveur” features an article called “Pasta’s Predecessor: The History of Gnocchi,” that I found really interesting when trying to figure out how the little potato dumplings came to be.
As with all traditional foods, there is controversy about where in Italy the dish originated, as well as when it was first developed, but according to the article, there are references to gnocchi all the way back to the Renaissance, which is pretty neat.
Historical gnocchi was made with a variety of ingredients, and if you start searching, you’ll find modern chefs love to play with it, too.
I really like cooking with gnocchi, because it is incredibly easy to prepare and adds some great, soft texture to a pasta dish.
That’s why I had to give this week’s recipe a try when I spotted it online. It looked like the perfect cool-weather dinner meal to sample.
This comes from the blog “Salt & Lavender.” You can find the original post at https://www.saltandlavender.com/ground-beef-gnocchi/. I added extra seasonings in my version.
Ground Beef Gnocchi
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced (I used yellow)
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
14-ounce can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1/3 cup chicken broth or water
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pound potato gnocchi, uncooked
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
In a large skillet with a lid, saute the ground beef and the onions over medium heat, crumbling the beef as it cooks.
Once the ground beef is fully cooked and the onions are soft, drain of any excess grease from the pan.
Stir in the garlic, oregano, basil, parsley, salt and pepper, and saute for just a couple of minutes until the garlic is fragrant.
Pour in the can of diced tomatoes, broth/water and heavy cream, and stir until combined. When the mixture begins bubbling slightly, stir in the gnocchi.
Place the lid on the pan, turning the heat to low-medium, and let it simmer for five minutes.
Remove the lid and stir again, letting the sauce reduce a bit for a few minutes.
Once the sauce is as thick as you like it and the gnocchi is soft, stir in the parmesan and serve immediately.
This was creamy and delicious. It was basically impossible to avoid getting seconds. All of the Italian seasonings melded with the richness of the gnocchi and the light saltiness of the parmesan to create a fabulous meal.
I’m guessing the use of store-bought tomatoes and dried herbs wasn’t quite what the originators of gnocchi had in mind when they first created the dumplings, but I’d also wager they would be pretty happy with the outcome if they gave it a taste.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly recipe column by Lindsey Young, who describes herself as an enthusiastic amateur cook and can be reached through her website at spiceupkitchen.net.