Gnocchi is an authentic Italian dish considered by many to be one of the most comforting comfort foods out there. The dumplings in the recipe, called “gnocchi” are named for the Italian word for knot in wood or knuckle, perhaps because they look like little knuckles or wood knots. Traditionally, they are made with potatoes and flour, and the non-vegan version also has eggs.
Of course, this is the vegan version, which means that the dumplings will be made by mashing cooked potatoes in with flour. The mixture is kneaded into small dumpling balls and then boiled. The non-vegan version is usually served with a meat-based sauce, but the vegan version is more traditional with a tomato-based sauce.
This post will share how to make the traditional Italian vegan gnocchi with Tempeh Bolognese Sauce.
First, The Gnocchi Dumplings
Before you can even begin to create this dish, you must first plan the gnocchi. This recipe calls for only three ingredients to accomplish this task. Potatoes, flour, and salt will be the trio that makes up these delicious dumplings; in this case, Russet potatoes, all-purpose flour, salt, and a fork.
Old potatoes are better for making gnocchi, since they have less liquid in them and more starch. Also, if you cannot find Russet potatoes, red ones will do just fine. New potatoes are not a good choice for this recipe.
Equipment Needed for Gnocchi Dumplings
You will need a clean, flat surface and a fork to mash the potatoes and to shape the gnocchi. Some people choose to use a ricer to mash the potatoes and a gnocchi board to shape the dumplings, but it is really just a matter of preference.
You will also need a small paring knife to peel the potatoes, a thick cloth, and a bowl to mix the ingredients. A pot of water will also be needed to boil the potatoes and the dumplings.
A knife or a dough scraper will also be needed to cut the dough, and a slotted spoon will be required to remove the gnocchi from the boiling water.
Ingredients for the Gnocchi Dumplings
- 2.2 pounds of Russet or Red Potatoes
- 2 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Teaspoons of Salt, plus a dash to add to the boiling water
Making the Gnocchi
- To get started, you will want to wash all of the potatoes, and then add them, skin and all, into a pot of cold water.
- Bring the water to a boil, and let the potatoes cook until they are soft. You can stick your fork into the sides of the potatoes to see if they are done. Once it goes in easily, you’re ready to move to the next step.
This step can take from 20 to 50 minutes. You can help to make sure that all of the potatoes are done at the same time by using potatoes that are relatively the same size, or by cutting larger potatoes to the size of the smaller ones.
- Once the potatoes have boiled until soft, drain them and peel them. Because they are too hot to handle, you may choose to hold the potato with a thick cloth in one hand and peel them with a small paring knife held in the other hand.
- After you have peeled all of the potatoes, place them all into a bowl and mash them with the fork or the potato ricer. You could also use a potato masher.
- Now that the potatoes are mashed, add in the flour and the salt and knead it all together until the potatoes have absorbed all of the flour. Once this happens, a soft potato dough or gnocchi dough will begin to form.
When the potatoes have absorbed all of the flour, stop kneading, as you do not want to over-knead.
Shaping the Gnocchi
- Pull the dough apart into 4 pieces, and then roll each of these pieces into a long rope. Each rope should be about three-quarters of an inch thick.
- Once they are all rolled out into long ropes, cut these ropes into small bites, about a half inch long. You can do this with a knife or a dough scraper.
- You may choose to stop here and leave the gnocchi shaped exactly as they are. You can also press each one with a fork to add ridges that will catch more sauce.
Cooking the Gnocchi
- The dumplings should be dropped into a large pot of gently boiling, salted water.
- Do not overcrowd the pot, but instead only cook one or two portions at a time.
- Gnocchi cooks very quickly, and are usually done within a minute or two. Once they float to the top, you should scoop them out with a slotted spoon. They are so soft that they can lose their shape if you use a strainer.
How to Serve Gnocchi
The key is to make sure that the sauce recipe you choose is as vegan as the dumplings that you made to smother with it. You don’t want to create the perfect, vegan gnocchi only to discover that you’ve drowned it in a non-vegan gnocchi sauce.
That said, there are plenty of vegan gnocchi sauce recipes that would pair nicely with these dumplings.
Or, you may choose the tempeh bolognese mentioned above.
The Tempeh Bolognese sauce can be made in 20 minutes, and is sometimes referred to as a vegan superfood. It is fried with onions, carrots, celery, tomato passata and your favourite vegan brown sugar to make a delicious alternative to meaty sauces. It is also great on vegan lasagna, raviolis, and other vegan pasta dishes.
That’s how to make the best vegan gnocchi. It is a nice nod to the traditional Italian recipes which have been passed down for decades. We hope you enjoy it, and find ways to make it your own tradition for your family. Feel free to browse more vegan recipes on this site.