Gnocchi and Crocchi: Spilled Milk #71

A colorful pasta when we need it the most

Let me just start here, this isn’t an ad, I’m just obsessed with the color, flavor, and cooking performance of Linda Nicholson’s latest creation, Crocchi.

And I am not alone.

‘Crow-key’  are croissant shaped gnocchi, made with natural colors made from vegetables. They cook up quickly and perfectly, have superb texture and flavor and yes, they are pricey. That’s because they are hand made by a young entrepreneur who has to make, pack, and ship them. But as the business grows the price will come down because the makers will strike a deal with the right packer and then a huge cost comes off the product. That’s how the prepared food biz works. Until then you can enjoy them, officially one of Oprah’s Favorite Things (and mine). Four ounces of frozen Crocchi is a great portion and they come in 18 ounce packs so the math makes them a reasonable deal in my mind. Go buy some handmade fresh pasta and you will see what I mean.

My obsession with them is partly due to my own gnocchi love affair that goes back to the late ‘60s and my first trip to northern Italy as a kid. My dad had Ugo Gatti, the head of the ad agency in Milan, drive me and my friend Clark outside the city to Bergamo, a hill top town, where Ugo introduced me to gnocchi for the first time. It was love at first sight. I have several gnocchi recipes on my website, like my Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage, or my Gnocchi Quatro Fromaggio. So if you want to make your own, go for it. I love them with a simple cheese sauce, Bolognese, en brodo, with tomato sauce, or simply boiled, crisped in a pan with brown butter and served with an aged parm or pecorino.

I have included my standard gnocchi recipe way below. You can add roasted, mashed garlic cloves, minced chives, or other elements to your gnocchi. You can make them with some pureed cooked squash, or try mixing in a cup of raw lobster coral and watch them turn red when you cook them!

People ask how I do it all. The truth is, I don’t. For a few dollars a month, you can support Spilled Milk and the team that makes it.

In the video and pics of my Crocchi I did a version of an Italian classic, a simple creamy pan sauce with cheese, peas and prosciutto. Give that recipe a try with Crocchi, gnocchi or your favorite pasta shape. Its more of a technique than a recipe:

  • Sweat a small handful of minced shallots in a few knobs of butter and add some sage leaves. Stir for a few minutes.

  • Add a few glugs of white wine and cook until half of it is evaporated.

  • Add a cup of really good strong chicken broth and reduce by about 2/3’s.

  • Add a half cup of cream and bring to a boil.

  • Add 2-3 portions of Crocchi/gnocchi/pasta and toss.

  • Add plenty of ground black pepper, peas, grated aged parm and finely diced prosciutto.

  • Toss for several minutes until the cheese has melted in the sauce.

  • Season and serve.

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  • 3 large Idaho potatoes, baked, peeled and riced

  • 3 tbsp ground aged Parmesan cheese

  • 1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, beaten

  • 2 tsp kosher salt

  • 2 tsp ground white pepper

  • Up to 3 and1/2 cups AP flour…depending on time of year and altitude you might use 2 and ¾ cups… but the dough will tell you….don’t worry

Place the riced potatoes while still warm in a large mixing bowl. Add the cheese, egg, salt, pepper and 2 and 1/2 cups of the flour. Immediately begin stirring vigorously while holding 2 or 3 forks in your fingers, using the tines as mixing instruments.

When the mixture has begun to coalesce into thick pieces of shredded dough, begin forming with your hands. If the mixture feels ‘wet’ or sticky, add more flour a little at a time.

When the dough is no longer ‘sticky’ turn out, in one lump, onto a floured work surface and let rest for 5 minutes under a slightly damp cloth.

Cut dough into 5-6 pieces with a bench knife. Roll out each piece into a long ‘hot dog’ shape. Cut to size. Roll on a gnocchi paddle or across a fork to make the indentations that are important for holding sauce on the dumplings. Or don’t.

Boil in salted water and utilize, or freeze by placing on a sheet tray, freezing and then bagging while frozen.

Andrew Zimmern's Spilled Milk
Andrew's favorite recipes, inspired by his travels, life and more.
Andrew Zimmern