Gnocchi alla Cesaroni

Gnocchi gluten-free

This authentic “Abruzzese” style gnocchi (gluten-free) can be served in a low simmered veal/beef sauce or in a sauce of your preference. Accompanied by ground hot peppers in olive oil and a sprinkle of parsley, this recipe is a must! Today we drank Tony Cesaroni’s homemade Merlot-San Giovese red wine and finished with peaches in homemade wine for dessert. Please visit next week if you wish to acquire this delicious sauce recipe!

“Food, in the end and in our tradition, is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity.” – Louise Fresco

Gnocchi gluten-free


I have long been fascinated by the traditions of cultures other than mine.

I must admit that I often perceive my own cultural traditions to be a little dull. Perhaps this way of thinking is more common than I once thought. After all, unfamiliarity often translates as being exotic or alluring in nature.

You may have already speculated that it’s the food that I usually appreciate most in cultural traditions. But it’s the preparation, the process, the storytelling passed down from generation to generation and the heart behind each traditional dish that intrigues me most. A friend of mine recently told me that during each family gathering, her family will sit around a big table in the kitchen to prepare dumplings late into the evening. To pass the time, wine and laughter flows generously as family stories are exchanged. It’s examples like these that demonstrate the importance of tradition. Simply, it  brings friends and families together.

Gluten-Free Gnocchi

Recently, I was invited to make gnocchi with my Italian ‘parents’ (a.k.a the Cesaroni family). Over the years, our two families have spent many occasions together to celebrate birthday parties, milestones and festive holidays; providing me with many happy memories. One of my fondest memories is when Mrs. Cesaroni would make her famous cinnamon wheel desserts which we named “snails” as children. They were delicious and always a lot of fun to help prepare.

Gnocchi gluten-free

As for preparing the gnocchi, it did take us a few attempts to make a gluten-free batch that tasted as good as the authentic kind, but the whole experimentation process was part of the fun! We first tried making the gnocchi with corn flour but found the dough to be way too short and it didn’t hold together. In the end, it was a mixture of g-free flours from a brand called Bob’s Red Mill that worked beautifully.

Our gnocchi making day was a very special one from start to finish. In my opinion, the greatest gift someone can give you is their time and knowledge.

During this day of gnocchi making, we did our best to document all the steps so that you too can recreate this fantastic dish.

Whether or not you choose to eat a diet free of gluten, this recipe is a must make!

Homemade Gluten-Free Gnocchi

Prep Time: 1½ hours       Cooking Time: 8 – 10 minutes        Yields: 6 large servings

Author: Milk & Marigolds

4 cups mashed potato (Approx. 6 medium potatoes)
2 eggs, beaten
3 (+) cups all-purpose flour. I used Bob’s Red Mill brand which is a blend of: garbanzo bean, potato starch, tapioca, white sorghum, and fava bean flours. (This flour is most added in the bowl, but save some for kneading on a smooth surface)


  • Begin by preparing your favourite pasta sauce. I recommend serving the gnocchi with a veal/beef tomato sauce simmered low for 1.5 – 2 hours. A Merlot- San Giovese blend red wine pairs beautifully this meal.


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the beaten eggs and cooked potatoes (mash them or put them through a mill).
  • Knead in the flour with hands until the texture is firm but dry, and no longer sticks to your hands
  • A good test: can you roll a small piece between your hands creating a “snake” of dough?
  • Another test: can you lift the dough out as one piece?
  • Remove dough as one mound from bowl onto well-floured surface for further kneading
  • *You’re not finished with the flour yet! Depending on the ambient temperature, the temp of your hands and of the surface, you will likely need to add more flour as you knead to achieve a firm consistency
  • See our photos for kneading technique, but a few tips from Zia Nina:
  • Use the heels of your palms in an alternating motion: grab the dough with your fingers and push away with your palms
  • Al dente gnocchi is achieved through the correct, firm texture of the dough
    • Continue to add flour as you knead until the consistency is firm, smooth and holds together in one mound
    • It should hardly stick to your hands
    • If your dough becomes TOO short and crumbles, don’t panic! Add tiny sprinkles of water until the dough holds together
    • Remember to keep your surface well-floured so the dough doesn’t stick
    • Unlike pastry, you cannot overwork this dough, so persevere until it holds together with the warmth of your hands and (if needed,) a tiny bit of water


  • Flour your surface and your hands thoroughly each time you roll out dough!
  • Cut a thin, long slice off the dough and keep the remainder covered to keep it from drying
  • There are a few techniques for rolling dough out into long “snakes”:
  • Take thin piece of dough between your palms and roll very briefly and gently to get started
  • Lay piece onto floured surface and starting in the middle of the piece, roll gently outwards with both hands to elongate and thin out dough
  • See pictures for desired thickness, lengths will vary and don’t matter: you will be cutting them


  • Cut approx. 1-inch pieces on the diagonal (see pictures for shape)
  • There are many gnocchi shapes, Zia Nina prefers this size and not smaller, because they cook more evenly and to the correct, Al dente texture
    • Press finger gently into centre of each piece, creating a “dimple” for sauce to pool in! This is a MUST!
    • Place gnocchi on a well-floured tray
    • If gnocchi will sit for any length of time, cover with tea towel to keep from drying


  • Bring water to a rolling boil
  • Add 1 ½ teaspoons of sea salt
  • Add gnocchi, stir frequently so as not to stick
  • Test frequently, texture should be Al dente NOT soft and mushy
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes


  • Cover in your favorite sauce and garnish with fresh parsley, hot peppers in oil and/ or with parmareggio.

Copyright © 2014. Milk & Marigolds

Thank you to the Cesaroni family for generously sharing and inspiring this superb recipe!

11 thoughts on “Gnocchi alla Cesaroni

  1. I have been pondering making GF gnocchi for the Yak but hadn’t got past the pondering stage. We can get that flour blend in these here parts so I will put this recipe on my ever increasing ‘to do’ list. Looks fabulous!


  2. Pingback: Lucia’s Bolognese Sauce | milk & marigolds

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