just me

Maple Butter Gnocchi

In Pasta on February 4, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Yes, maple! And cinnamon! On gnocchi!

First, let me say that I am so ashamed, but I did not make my gnocchi from scratch. I know, bad me. In the cutest stereotypical tradition, my Italian grandmother taught me how to do it when I was, like, five. I’ve done it many, many times. But not this time. Shame on me. I feel like I have violated the family name.

Why did I bring this disgrace on myself? Laziness. Well, not really laziness, but lack of time. Making them from scratch is really an afternoon-long affair, and I wouldn’t have had time to work out, run errands, etc. I know people think I do nothing all day, but I don’t stop moving all day. What am I doing? All the stuff that has to get done that you don’t get paid for. Therefore, I do nothing all day. Rant over.

I also wanted to try store-bought gnocchi – I’ve seen them around, and they seemed to be coming up in quality, so I wanted to see how they compare to the real stuff. Verdict? Not even close.  My biggest complaint is that they aren’t formed right. Like they left out the last step. They’re just lumps of dough. I know many recipes don’t tell you to do this, but take it from me – for real, authentic, straight from Italy in 1904 gnocchi, you must roll them. See, you make the dough, roll it into long ropes, then cut them into 1-inch sections. That’s where most people stop. Oh, they might press a fork into them, but that’s not quite it. There’s a technique that’s almost impossible to put into words, but I’ll try.

Using two fingers, gently press down on the piece of dough and pull it toward you. If you do it right (believe me, it takes practice), it should curl up and stay like that. This way, each individual gnocchi holds a little bit of sauce. You have to experiment with the right pressure and speed, but if done right, it makes a HUGE difference. My grandmother can go right down the rope, 1,2,3. She can roll gnocchi like she’s working an assembly line or something. I guess commercial pasta manufacturers don’t have tables of Italian grandmothers to roll their gnocchi, because none of them do this.

For this recipe, it really doesn’t make a difference – the sauce is really sweet, and too much would be cloying. To cut the sweetness a bit, I served it atop a beautiful slice of heirloom tomato. Yes, in the winter! I know!

Maple Butter Gnocchi


1 package gnocchi

1 heirloom tomato, cut into thick slices

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch nutmeg


Cook gnocchi according to package directions.

While that’s happening, melt the butter in a small saucepan, and continue cooking until milk solids are brown. But don’t burn it! Keep it over a medium heat, tops.

By now, the gnocchi should be done. Drain them.

While they’re draining, remove the brown butter from heat, and stir in the syrup and spices.

Pour the gnocchi and the sauce back into the hot pasta pot, and toss to coat.

Serve them in little mounds atop the tomato slices.

Have you ever seen such a beautiful tomato in the middle of winter?

Note – for best results, assure the tomatoes that UglyRipe is just a silly name, and they’re not really ugly. Really, it helps.


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