Gnocchi (/ˈn(j)ɒki/ N(Y)OK-ee, /ˈnoʊki/ NOH-kee, /ˈnɔː-/ NAW-; Italian: [ˈɲɔkki], singular gnocco) are various thick, small, and soft dough dumplings that may be made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour,egg, cheese, potato, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, or similar ingredients, and possibly including flavourings of herbs, vegetables, cocoa, or prunes. The dough for gnocchi is most often rolled out before it is cut into small pieces about the size of a wine cork. The little dumplings are then pressed with a fork or a cheese grater to make ridges that can hold sauce. Alternatively, they are simply cut into little lumps. Gnocchi are usually eaten as a replacement for pasta in the first course, but they can also be served as a contorno (side dish) to some main courses.
Like many Italian dishes, gnocchi have considerable variation in recipes and names across different regions. For example, Lombard and Tuscan malfatti (literally poorly made) are made with ricotta, flour and spinach, as well as the addition of various other herbs if required. Tuscan gnudi distinctively contains less flour;but some varieties are flour-based, like the Campanian strangulaprievete, the Apulian cavatielli, the Sardinianmalloreddus, and so on. Gnocchi are commonly cooked on their own in salted boiling water and then dressed with various sauces depending on the type of gnocchi and recipe used. Some gnocchi can be made from pieces of cooked polenta or semolina, which are spread out to dry, and then layered with cheese and butter and finished in the oven.
Gnocchi are eaten as a first course (primo piatto) as an alternative to soups (minestre) or pasta. Common accompaniments of gnocchi include melted butter with sage, pesto, as well as various sauces. They are generally homemade in Italian and Italian-immigrant households. They may also be bought fresh from specialty stores. In supermarkets, industrially produced, packaged gnocchi are widely available either refrigerated, dried, or frozen.
Gnocchi can be purchased ready-made from grocery stores or they can be handmade. Their preparation is similar to pasta, as they are cooked by boiling them in water and then they are served with a sauce. If miniature gnocchi are wanted for soup, they can be made by pressing gnocchi dough through a coarse sieveor a perforated spoon.