a peek inside the fishbowl

11 Oct, 2012

Gnocchi – my new favourite side dish. And it’s cheap too.

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

I think it’s nonsense that we, as North Americans, believe that there has to be a starch served at every meal. We’ve been conditioned, brainwashed, indoctrinated by Uncle Ben’s and the Potato Growers Associations!

If you have steak for dinner, why not just have steak and a huge salad? Instead of throwing some form of potato in there (mashed, baked, french fried) all the time? It’s better for you, and you’ll eat more greens.

BUT. Carbs are cheap. And I think kids need them, as does Mark who bikes 10km to and from work every day. (I sure don’t!) Gnocchi is one of my favourites. You can find them in the pasta aisle.

Here they are, looking rather rather unglamourous in my frying pan:


We used to call them MOUSE PILLOWS when the girls were small. We still call them mouse pillows. :)

A package of gnocchi will only set you back a couple bucks and it makes a good side dish for our family of four. But the best thing? It keeps forever in the pantry and only takes a few minutes to prepare. Woot!

This is my new gnocchi-cookin’ technique (which I only recently perfected):

1) Add a good dollop of butter to a large pre-heated frying pan.

2) Add gnocchi and toss to coat.

3) Put the lid on the pan and take care of the rest of dinner prep while they cook. They need about 5 minutes in there, stirring once or twice.

4) Take the lid off, add a tablespoon of brown sugar (FOR REALS), a squirt of fresh lemon juice, some thyme or sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another two minutes.

SEE. And there you have it! A very easy to prepare side dish that helps fill some bellies, and gives everyone respite from the other starches that are on normal rotation.

I served them with pan-fried pork cutlets and homemade apple sauce last night. The plate was quite brown-coloured (we definitely needed more green in there) but we ate it all up. It was sooo good.

p.s Ever tried to make your own gnocchi? Here’s a recipe for purple (!) gnocchi over on Recipes.ca that looks pretty cool.

11 Responses to "Gnocchi – my new favourite side dish. And it’s cheap too."

1 | Judy

October 11th, 2012 at 9:21 am


We also love gnocchi but boil it and then toss it with some cooked spinach and parmesean! Great with sausages!

2 | Marla Good

October 11th, 2012 at 9:34 am


I HAVE made my own gnocchi – and I made it with squash. It was a recipe similar to this: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Butternut-Squash-Gnocchi-with-Sage-Brown-Butter-361270

(and in poking around for that, BOY did this one look good: http://guiltykitchen.com/2009/09/19/butternut-squash-gnocchi/)

3 | Giulia

October 11th, 2012 at 9:47 am


We boil our gnocchi and serve them either with canned garlic tomatoes and generous amount of Parmesan or with a Gorgonzola sauce and spinach. We always have them as our main meal because I find them quite heavy.
And yes, we’ve made our own.

4 | Pamela

October 11th, 2012 at 9:54 am


I love the term “mouse pillows”….. It made me think about the cute terms that my girls had for some foods..thank you for the smile and the recipe.

5 | Javamom

October 11th, 2012 at 9:58 am


We too have made squash gnocchi, or mixed with other starches, or with spinach and/or swiss chard. The possibilities are limitless!

Sauces too can dress up or down the gnocchi every which way. I sometimes toss them with rappini (broccoli rabe) which I steam lightly in olive oil, garlic, chopped onion and a squeeze of lemon. Delish!

Kids like it like you make it with butter (but they add parm cheese instead of sugar).

And by the way, that steak with the salad, that’s a regular Sat night meal for us. Big huge salad full of colours and a steak, with a big glass of red wine…yum. Never missed the starch there…:)

6 | torontomom

October 11th, 2012 at 12:39 pm


We love gnocchi at our house- pan frying them is the way to go.

I agree with you on the starch front. It is a tough habit to break. One option that works for us is mashed cauliflower. Steam, cauliflower until nice and tender, add a bit of stock, or warmed milk, olive oil, salt and pepper and parmesan cheese and whiz up until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes. You can add whatever seasonings you like or that would complement the main event.

Delicious and nutritious!

7 | pat cook

October 11th, 2012 at 3:58 pm


Yes gnocchi made of squash (or pumpkin) is delicious and a nice buttery colour! Thanks for the reminder folks.

8 | Paula

October 12th, 2012 at 7:56 am


Coming from an Italian family, gnocchi has always been a favourite. I remember making it from scratch with my Nonna, and now my kids ask to have gnocchi not only because they love to eat it, but they love helping make it too. Give them a piece of dough and tell them to roll away! Ricotta gnocchi is my fave though – no potatoes – just ricotta, parmesan, flour and salt with a simple tomato basil sauce!

9 | Natalie

October 12th, 2012 at 6:46 pm


I make my side of gnocchi in a very similar manner as you, only I add a good glug of balsamic vinegar and sometimes sauté some garlic in the butter before I throw the gnocchi in the pan. Yum!

10 | valerie

October 16th, 2012 at 2:06 pm


We were at friends’ for supper recently and they served steak and bean salad. No starch, not even bread. My poor kids ate almost nothing except the raw carrots the hostess dug out of the fridge for them, LOL. Unfortunately, we’re not big salad people – spinach or caesar are pretty much it. And we don’t eat a lot of beef that’s not ground.

I agree that we don’t need starch at every meal, but I found it quite funny (humourous as well as strange) that it never even occurred to my friend that something was missing. :)

11 | Jen Hughes

October 16th, 2012 at 8:36 pm


It never occured to me that gnocchi could be prepared in any way except boiling. Your method sounds yummy – and kid-friendly. I’ll definitely try it! And we might have to adopt your term for it too. Very cute.

In an effort to get my pickiest to try quinoa a couple of years ago, we started calling it “moon rice.” He was very into space and aliens at the time. It worked!

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