The Many Local Varieties of Gnocchi
Most gnocchi are difficult to reference without using their local or regional name. As we always like to point out, Italian food does not exist. Italian cuisine is regional and the dishes reflect the traditions and culture of their territory. This is why there are many different and unique types of gnocchi all throughout Italy, many of which you probably have never even heard of.
Non si butta niente, nothing goes to waste. This has been the foundation of local Italian dishes and you will see it reflected in many gnocchi recipes.
In the Northeast, the gnocchi dough is often flavored with cinnamon and cocoa, made with stale bread or stuffed with fruit (like gnocchi di susine). In Piedmont, ravioles are a type of gnocchi made with cheese from the mountain, while chestnut flour and pumpkin gnocchi are called gnocchi ossolani.
The term gnocchi also includes those made with semolina flour such as gnocchi alla romana or gnoches de gries. Gnocchi can also be made from soft-wheat flour and from cornmeal (the ingredient used to make polenta). Leftover polenta gnocchi are actually turned into regional dishes like the thick polenta called matuffi from certain areas in Northeastern Tuscany, the looser polenta pallette in the Northwestern part of the region, and sweet polenta maneghi from central parts of the Veneto.
Other traditional local gnocchi are canederli or Knödel from Alto Adige, rabaton from Piedmont, malfatti from Lombardy, and strangolapreti in Trentino, all from northern Italy. These types of dough do not contain potatoes and are made of vegetables, bread, herbs, ricotta, cheese, or other ingredients.
There are also gnocchi that have a liquid dough made of flour, eggs, cheese, and other ingredients. They are cooked in boiling water using specific utensils or techniques. These are gnocchi sbatui, mariconda, Spätzle.
All of this makes gnocchi a deliciously complicated family! The best way to classify gnocchi is by the main ingredient used and this is the criteria we applied in our Homemade Gnocchi: Master Course