Different types of pasta can be found all over Italy. Especially the shapes are different everywhere, but there are also differences in the pasta dough. Generally speaking, fresh pasta is made with eggs and 00 flour in the North, and water and semolina flour in the South. Sometimes salt, white wine, or olive oil are added to the dough as well, and sometimes dough is made with buckwheat flour. Other additions are to give pasta color and sometimes flavor, such as saffron or spinach.
As I have tasted and prepared many different types of pasta, I was excited when on Marina’s blog Le Recette di Baccos I discovered a new type of making pasta dough: adding flour to boiling water, similar to making dough for eclairs or puffs. In Italy this is called gnocchi all’acqua (water gnocchi) or gnocchi di farina (flour gnocchi). It turned out that these gnocchi have the same texture (but not the potato flavor) of good homemade potato gnocchi, but are a lot easier and quicker to make.
Marina served the gnocchi with a seafood sauce, but in the comments one of her followers mentioned that she always serves them with sage pesto (pesto di salvia). As I have a lot of fresh sage in my garden but had never tried sage pesto before, I was eager to try that as well. Not surprisingly, sage pesto ended up being strongly flavored, so you need less of it than of regular basil pesto (pesto alla genovese). I think adding strips of prosciutto to a dish of gnocchi all’acqua with sage pesto would take it over the top.
I’ll definitely make the water gnocchi again, as they are so easy and such a fast way to make fresh pasta as there is no resting time involved and the dough is so easy to work with. From start to finish, this dish with homemade pasta made from scratch and homemade sage pesto made from scratch only took about half an hour. If you have never prepared your own pasta before, perhaps this is a good start. You can use these gnocchi for all recipes that use potato gnocchi, but just keep in mind that the gnocchi won’t have a potato taste.
For the gnocchi all’acqua
150 grams (1 cup) 00 flour (although I expect all-purpose flour will also work just fine for this)
250 ml (1 cup) water
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
For the sage pesto
25 grams (1 oz) fresh sage leaves
15 grams (1 Tbsp) pine nuts
40 grams (4 Tbsp) freshly grated pecorino
80 grams (8 Tbsp) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
100 ml (7 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
The sage pesto is done. Put the sage pesto in a non-stick pan over very low heat. I recommend to start with only half of the pesto, as it has a very strong flavor. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the gnocchi.
Time flies, as the blog post indicates that I have been making fresh homemade ricotta for over two years already. Although it does take some patience, it is so easy and tasty that I haven’t bought ricotta since.