Thursday? It must be gnocchi! In restaurants throughout Italy, Thursday specials are typically reserved for the pillowy potato dumpling. Gnocchi originates in Northern Italy, where the colder climate was better for growing potatoes than grain. In fact, a lot of heartier Italian cuisine comes from Northern Italy, like risotto and polenta.
The word “gnocchi” (pronounced N’YAW-kee) has an unknown origin, but it’s speculated to come from the Italian wordnocca, meaning knuckle. Essentially, gnocchi are a form of dumplings, and, of course, not exclusive to Italy. But their light, airy texture and full potato flavor makes them a unique pasta with a long history in classic European cuisine. Even different regions of Italy have their respective versions. Before potatoes, gnocchi existed but with different ingredients such as squash and breadcrumbs. Gnocchi were the perfect peasant food, both filling and inexpensive. ‘DeLallo’
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Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. When the water is boiling rapidly, tip the gnocchi into the water and cook until they pop to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a flat tray. Don’t tip them into a bowl as they might become sticky.
Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add a dollop of olive oil and fry the gnocchi in a single layer for 5 minutes or until golden on both sides. Remove and set aside.
Add the smoked chicken to the pan (and a touch more oil if required) and cook for 3-5 minutes until just turning crisp. Add the artichokes and cook for another minute, stirring. Add the mascarpone and toss to combine. Add the gnocchi, herbs, lemon zest and seasoning. Toss gently, then cook for a couple of minutes to melt the mascarpone and coat the gnocchi in the sauce. Serve immediately.