Make us your home page

How to make simple, and gluten-free, Italian gnocchi

If you’re looking for a gluten-free and wonderfully flexible dish, try Chickpea Gnocchi. After a few squares you’ll be hooked.

Washington Post

If you’re looking for a gluten-free and wonderfully flexible dish, try Chickpea Gnocchi. After a few squares you’ll be hooked.

I've long thought more people needed to know about Roman-style gnocchi. The dish is quite different from the lightly boiled potato dumplings that most of us think of when we consider gnocchi. As much as I love the typical iteration, the Roman version — squares of semolina (or sometimes polenta) layered in a casserole dish, topped with butter and cheese and baked — is much easier to pull together at the end of a busy workday.

You don't eat them the same way, either: You pop the dumplings into your mouth whole, or at least I do, and they're usually enrobed in a light sauce and could be combined with any number of other ingredients in a composed dish. The Roman gnocchi, on the other hand, is often shaped into pieces bigger than bite-size, so you use a fork, and it's usually served quite simply, with little more than a tomato sauce on the side, often as a starter.

I was reminded how much I appreciate the dish when I flipped through Antonio Carluccio's charming new book, Vegetables (Quadrille, 2016). Carluccio, 79, is an acclaimed Italian cook, writer and TV personality who lives in London, where he ran the Neal Street Restaurant and developed the Carluccio's cafe chain whose branches now number 97. (He also has two restaurants in the United States, both of them in the Washington, D.C., area.)

What I love most about Carluccio's book is the way he pays tribute to Italian traditions (such as the classic summer panzanella salad) while showing flashes of innovation (a lasagna made with thinly sliced beet rather than noodles). The latter is what he applies to Roman-style gnocchi, making it with chickpea flour as a smart nod to the fritters called panelle that are a classic Sicilian street food. The dish has just a handful of ingredients — including eggs, nutmeg, butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano — which add up to something wonderfully flexible that also happens to be gluten-free. I enjoyed several squares of it one night fresh from the oven and topped with a little tomato sauce, and the next night I warmed a few more and spooned on saucy black beans and crumbled a little feta over them.

It probably wasn't all that Italian the second time, but who cares?


Chickpea Gnocchi (Panelle Alla Romana)

This twist on Roman-style baked gnocchi, traditionally made with polenta or semolina, uses chickpea flour. Chickpea flour can be found in the gluten-free or grains section of many supermarkets.

5 cups water

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, plus more as needed

Freshly ground black pepper

2 ¾ cups chickpea flour (see headnote)

2 large eggs

Freshly grated nutmeg

4 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing the baking sheet

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Warm tomato sauce, for serving

Combine the water, oil, salt and pepper in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

Gradually add the chickpea flour, whisking constantly, until evenly incorporated. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes; the mixture should be somewhat smooth, but you may still have lumps. Taste, and add salt if needed. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and stir with a fork until evenly blended. Stir a spoonful of the chickpea flour mixture into the beaten eggs to temper them, then stir the eggs and a few gratings of fresh nutmeg into the saucepan to form a thick, soft dough. If it is particularly stiff and lumpy, use an immersion (stick) blender to make it smooth and a bit more supple.

Lightly grease a spatula (offset would work nicely) with cooking oil spray. Spoon the dough onto a cool work surface, using the spatula to spread it evenly into a slab that's about 10 inches square and ¾ inch thick. Let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes, until fairly firm.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with a little butter.

Use a sharp knife to cut the slab of gnocchi dough into 2-inch squares, arranging them on the baking sheet in rows that slightly overlap. Scatter the butter pieces and cheese evenly over the gnocchi. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until a golden crust forms on top.

Serve warm, with the sauce.

Make ahead: The gnocchi dough can be cooled, cut into squares and refrigerated, covered in plastic, for up to 3 days before baking.

Makes 6 to 8 servings (25 large gnocchi).

Source: Adapted from Vegetables by Antonio Carluccio (Quadrille Publishing, 2016)

How to make simple, and gluten-free, Italian gnocchi 01/17/17 [Last modified: Monday, January 16, 2017 2:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 18


    Dali and Schiaparelli: Opening Day: A retrospective exhibit of designer Elsa Schiaparelli and her collaborations with Dali. It features gowns, accessories, sketches, objects and photos, as well as new designs from the House of Schiaparelli. Remains on display through Jan. 14. 10 a.m., Dali Museum, 1 Dali Blvd. …

  2. Fresh figs take a starring role in this fig cake


    Figs are showy fruit.

    They can't help themselves. Even the plainest, drabbest fig will reveal a scarlet belly, flecked with shimmering seeds, once you take a bite. Whether they're sliced or halved, arranged in a tart shell, on a crostini or just on a plate, there are few visions more enticing. This is why most fig …

    Chopping fresh figs and folding them into cake batter is not something you usually see, but that’s exactly what happens in this recipe for fig cake.
  3. As Faith Hill and Tim McGraw come to Tampa, here's why their love fascinates and endures

    Music & Concerts

    Eight years ago, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill stood on the sidelines of Raymond James Stadium, waiting for Hill's cue to perform America the Beautiful before Super Bowl XLIII. He held her hand and they kissed as the Steelers, Cardinals and a television audience of 150 million waited in the wings.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw perform during the “Soul2Soul” World Tour at Staples Center on July 14 in Los Angeles.
  4. From the food editor: Five things I'm enjoying in the food world right now


    Sometimes your notebook is scribbled with little thoughts here and there, things you come across in the food world and want to share but aren't sure how or when. Well, folks, I need to get some of this off my chest. Here is a somewhat random collection of culinary things I am really enjoying right now:

    Espresso Sea Salt Cookie Sandwiches with a cooked buttercream frosting, from St. Petersburg home bakery Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. Photo by Jennifer Jacobs.
  5. Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins: Yacht rock paradise at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday

    Music & Concerts

    Frosty wine coolers and a misty sunset sea breeze. White linen pants and a tilted captain's hat. Coconut milk and an awful lot of rum.

    Kenny Loggins performs during Little Kids Rock Benefit 2016 at Capitale on October 5, 2016 in New York City.