Gnocchi Al Nonno

Gnocchi Al Nonno

Although relatively labour intensive, homemade potato gnocchi is incredibly cheap, very rewarding and shows that with a little time you can easily make restaurant quality meals on a student budget. “Al nonno” means served in a classic Italian tomato sauce “just like grandpa used to make.” It is slightly spicy and deliciously creamy. The gnocchi recipe is adapted from Alexandra Tylee’s beautiful new cookbook from the Havelock North restaurant Pipi, which serves some of the best gnocchi in the country.


For the gnocchi:
1 kg potatoes
1 ¾ cups of flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ tbs olive oil for pan-frying

For the sauce:
½ tbs vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
½ tsp chilli (or to taste)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
500g bacon, cut into strips
2 cans crushed tomatoes
¼ cup vodka (the alcohol will cook off but it brings out flavours in the tomatoes that would not otherwise be released)
A good squirt of tomato sauce
1 cup of cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheese


01 | Boil the potatoes until tender, drain then mash until there are virtually no lumps (you can use a food processor for this if you like).

02 | When the mashed potato has cooled, tip it out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead in the flour and the salt.

03 | When combined, make a well in the middle of the dough and pour in the egg. Knead until forms a light sticky dough, but try not to overwork it.

04 | Cut the dough in half and roll each half into a tubular shape about 2cm high and 3 cm wide. Cut the tube into pieces of about 2cm and place on a tray ready for cooking.

05 | Bring a large pot of water to the boil. When the water is gently boiling drop in the gnocchi, about a dozen at a time. When they are ready (this will happen very quickly) they will float to the surface. Take them out immediately with a slotted spoon. Once cooked they can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for a later date.

06 | Now make your sauce: add the oil to a large pan and brown the onions and garlic with the chilli and herbs for approximately 5 minutes.

07 | Add the bacon and cook until evenly browned.

08 | Add the tomatoes, vodka and tomato sauce and stir well. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes before adding the cream and simmering for a few more minutes.

09 | Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

10 | Add the olive oil to a clean pan and lightly fry the gnocchi in batches until lightly coloured.

11 | Distribute the gnocchi between 6 plates. Add a good ladle of the sauce, a sprinkling of cheese and pour yourself a glass of wine for your efforts!

– Maeve Jones
This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2012.
Posted 7:40pm Sunday 27th May 2012 by Maeve Jones.