5 knockout gnocchi recipes to warm you up on cold winter nights

Posted by for Food and Drink

Simple to make and packed with flavour, a bowl of rustic Italian gnocchi is pure comfort during the winter. Add these recipes to your lockdown repertoire pronto…

January is a tough month at the best of times, but this year, it’s especially hard to love. With new national lockdowns coming into force and the onset of bitterly cold temperatures across the UK, positivity feels thin on the ground.

The kitchen, however, is one place where solace can always be found. So this week, we’re combating the bleak news with good food; gnocchi, to be precise.

Although pasta frequently takes the top spot in the comfort food stakes, a bowl of fluffy, melt-in-the-mouth potato dumplings is hard to beat on a winter’s night. Not only is the Italian creation wonderfully filling, but it’s surprisingly easy to make, too. Quite simply, you can’t fail to feel happy when you’re taking a bite of these little carby clouds. 

Readying yourself for new lockdown culinary adventures? Below, you’ll find five delicious recipes for those days when dinner inspiration feels out of reach.

First things first, you need to know how to make gnocchi, which is where Big Mamma’s authentic Italian recipe comes in. Although the ready-made stuff is a saviour when you’re tired, making your own from scratch is pretty satisfying – just leave out the spinach and hazelnuts here, and use the base ingredients to make a plain version that goes with everything.

Alternatively, Rukmini Iyer’s colourful, crispy gnocchi is a great place to start if you’re a fan of one-pot cooking. Everything is roasted in one tin for a little extra crunch, and the result is a minimal ingredient masterpiece.

Embarking upon Veganuary or just fancy cutting back on your meat intake? Katy Beskow’s roasted pumpkin gnocchi with sage and dark cavolo nero has a welcome hint of sweetness, while the vodka cream gnocchi elevates a simple tomato sauce to delicious new heights.

Lastly, Roxy Pope and Ben Pook’s vegan gnocchi will make sure you get your greens with its vitamin-boosting mix of beans, spinach and asparagus. A dinner this good in 15 minutes flat? We’re sold. 

  • Big Mamma’s gnocchi with spinach and sage butter

    Gnocchi recipes: Big Mamma’s gnocchi della nonna (gnocchi with spinach and sage butter)

    Serves 4

    Preparation time: 35 minutes

    Cooking time: 1 hour

    Ingredients

    • 240g (about 2 medium) agria potatoes or maris piper potatoes
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 500g spinach, trimmed
    • 80g grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to garnish
    • 170g dried breadcrumbs
    • 2 eggs
    • 160ml whole milk
    • 60g plain flour
    • 10 hazelnuts, halved to garnish

    For the sauce:

    • 250g butter, diced
    • leaves of 1 bunch of sage, plus a few extra to garnish

    Method

    Put the potatoes into a large pan of cold water, bring to a boil, then cook over a high heat for 40 minutes. Set aside.

    In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over a high heat and cook the spinach for 10 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a colander and squeeze to extract as much water as possible. 

    Transfer to a chopping board, finely chop the spinach until you have a paste. Peel the potatoes, transfer them to a mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher.

    Add the chopped spinach, grated parmesan, breadcrumbs, eggs, milk and flour and mix well.

    On a floured work surface, roll the dough into balls about 4cm in diameter. Flour your hands, then shape the dough into perfectly round gnocchi. 

    Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the gnocchi for about 3 minutes: they will rise to the surface when cooked. Reserve the cooking water.

    Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a high heat until you have a beurre noisette (brown butter), then add the sage leaves. Immediately pour 1 ladle of the gnocchi cooking water into the pan to stop the cooking and prevent the butter burning.

    Drain the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and add to the frying pan. Mantecare (mix) the sauce with the gnocchi with a few flicks of the wrist for 2–3 minutes. 

    Transfer the gnocchi to serving dishes. Sprinkle with grated parmesan, hazelnuts and sage leaves.

    Tip

    Gnocchi are small sensitive little things and need to be handled with great care! Seriously, though, it’s best not to knead them because that develops gluten, which will make them too firm. 

    From Big Mamma Cucina Popolare: Contemporary Italian Recipes by Big Mamma (£27.95, Phaidon), out now

  • Rukmini Iyer’s crispy gnocchi with roasted peppers, chilli, rosemary and ricotta

    Gnocchi recipes: Rukmini Iyer’s crispy gnocchi with roasted peppers, chilli, rosemary and ricotta

    Rukmini says: “The gnocchi with mozzarella and tomatoes from the first Roasting Tin book was so popular that I decided to revisit it, as there are never too many ways to eat crispy gnocchi. This version, with roasted red peppers and rosemary, is a lovely alternative. Use a very large and ideally metal roasting tin, for maximum crunch on the potatoes.”

    Serves 2 generously

    Preparation time: 15 mins

    Cooking time: 30 mins

    Total time: 45 mins

    Ingredients

    • 500g gnocchi
    • 500g mixed red, yellow and baby peppers, roughly chopped
    • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1 tsp chilli flakes
    • 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • 4 tbsp ricotta
    • a handful of freshly chopped parsley

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C/gas 7. Tip the gnocchi into a large bowl, then pour a kettleful of boiling water over it and leave to stand for 2 minutes before draining well.

    Tip the gnocchi into a roasting tin along with everything except the ricotta. Mix well – make sure you’ve used a tin big enough for everything to fit in one layer. Transfer to the oven and cook for 30 minutes, until the gnocchi is crisp and golden.

    Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed, dollop on the ricotta and scatter with the parsley before serving hot.

    From The Green Roasting Tin: Vegan And Vegetarian One Dish Dinners by Rukmini Iyer (£17.99, Square Peg), out now

  • Katy Beskow’s roasted pumpkin gnocchi

    Gnocchi recipes: Katy Bescow’s roasted pumpkin gnocchi

    Katy says: “This gnocchi dish with sage and dark cavolo nero is as comforting as it is delicious. The recipe also works well with seasonal roasted butternut squash.”

    Ingredients

    • 1 medium pumpkin, tough skin and seeds removed, flesh roughly sliced
    • 2 tsp dried sage
    • drizzle of sunflower oil
    • 6 leaves of cavolo nero, roughly shredded and tough stem discarded
    • 500g gnocchi (ensure vegan)
    • 400ml hot vegetable stock
    • generous pinch each of sea salt and black pepper

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

    Arrange the pumpkin over a couple of baking trays and sprinkle with the sage. Drizzle over a little sunflower oil, then roast in the oven for 25–30 minutes until softened.

    Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the cavolo nero and gnocchi. Cook for 3 minutes, then thoroughly drain.

    Remove the roasted pumpkin from the oven and spoon three-quarters of it into a high-powered blender jug. Pour in the hot vegetable stock then blitz on high until silky smooth. Pour the sauce into the pan, stirring it through the cooked gnocchi and kale.

    Spoon the remaining pumpkin into the pan and lightly stir.

    Season to taste with sea salt and plenty of black pepper.

    Serve in warmed bowls (cosy jumpers optional).

    Tips

    This dish is suitable for freezing. 

    Ready-made gnocchi can be found in supermarkets, and is a great addition to any store cupboard for fast and filling meals. Do ensure that the gnocchi is vegan, as some brands add eggs or milk proteins.

    From Easy Vegan Bible: 200 Easiest Ever Plant-based Recipes by Katy Beskow (£20, Quadrille), out now

  • Katy Beskow’s vodka cream gnocchi

    Gnocchi recipes: Katy Bescow’s vodka cream gnocchi

    Katy says: “This indulgent supper is as simple as it is delicious, with a vodka-infused sauce. Vodka helps to emulsify acidic tomatoes and dairy-free cream, as well as bringing out a sweeter flavour in the tomato passata. Team this sauce with gnocchi, for a comforting bowlful.”

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 500g good quality passata 
    • pinch of sugar
    • 4 tbsp soya single cream
    • 100ml vodka
    • 500g potato gnocchi (ensure egg-free)
    • handful of small basil leaves
    • generous pinch each of sea salt and black pepper

    Method

    Add the oil and garlic to a large pan and cook over a medium heat for 1 minute until the oil is infused. Pour in the passata and sugar and cook for 2–3 minutes.

    Spoon in the soya cream and vodka and lay a lid loosely over the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Meanwhile, bring a separate pan of salted water to the boil and add the gnocchi. Cook for 2–3 minutes until al dente, then thoroughly drain away the water.

    Season the sauce to taste with salt and plenty of pepper, then remove from the heat. Add the cooked gnocchi and stir to coat in the sauce. Scatter over the basil leaves just before serving.

    Tip

    The sauce is suitable for freezing.

    From Easy Vegan Bible: 200 Easiest Ever Plant-based Recipes by Katy Beskow (£20, Quadrille), out now

  • Roxy Pope and Ben Pook’s super green gnocchi

    Gnocchi recipes: Roxy Pope and Ben Pook’s super green gnocchi

    Roxy and Ben say: “Some days the last thing we want to do is spend our entire evening in the kitchen. That’s where our super green gnocchi steps in. Flavoursome and fuss-free, just how we like it.”

    Serves 4

    Preparation time: 10 mins

    Cooking time: 4–6 mins

    Ingredients

    • 150g green beans
    • 12 asparagus spears (300g)
    • 800g vegan gnocchi
    • 1 small garlic clove
    • 150g baby spinach
    • a bunch of fresh basil (30g), plus extra for serving
    • 40g walnuts
    • extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
    • a lemon
    • salt and pepper

    Method

    Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil over a high heat.

    Meanwhile trim the ends off the beans. Trim the tough ends off the asparagus and slice into thirds. Add both to the boiling water and simmer for 3–4 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the veggies to a large bowl.

    Bring the water back to a fast boil, and carefully add the gnocchi. Cook for 1–2 minutes, until they float to the surface, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the bowl of veggies, reserving the cooking water.

    Peel the garlic, pick the leaves off the basil and add both to a food processor (see tip below if you don’t have a food processor) along with the spinach, walnuts, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the nutritional yeast, the juice from the lemon half, and a pinch of salt and pepper. 

    Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water and blend until you have a smooth pesto. Season to taste with extra salt and pepper, if necessary.

    Discard the rest of the cooking water, then put the gnocchi and veggies back into the pan. Add every drop of the delicious pesto and stir to combine, until the gnocchi and veggies are completely covered. 

    Finish with an extra pinch of pepper and top with a few fresh basil leaves. Yum!

    Tip

    Don’t have a food processor? Simply finely chop the garlic, spinach and basil, then add the walnuts and nutritional yeast and continue chopping until fine. Transfer to a bowl and add the oil, lemon juice, reserved water and salt and pepper.

    From One Pot Vegan by Roxy Pope and Ben Pook (£16.99, Michael Joseph), out now

Photography: David Loftus; Luke Albert; Dan Jones

Sign up for our essential edit of what to buy, see, read and do, and also receive our 11-page Ultimate Guide To Making Your Home Feel Bigger.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Share this article

Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.