The phenomenal Gnocchi alla Bava is an original recipe from Aosta Valley.
It is a creamy and rich dish, and it tastes so wonderfully good. It can be prepared with the classic potato gnocchi or, as per the tradition of the Aosta Valley, with the buckwheat flour.
Despite the name, buckwheat isn’t related to wheat, so it is naturally gluten free!
As always, just a few simple high quality ingredients: look for red potatoes, all purpose or buckwheat flour, and the fontina DOP cheese.
At the feet of the Alps, there is the smallest of the Italian Regions, Val d’Aosta. Here they produce the fontina DOP cheese. An incredibly rich and creamy cheese, sweet and pungent, with a taste of butter and roasted nuts. Traditionally made from unpasteurized milk, the texture is semi-hard, smooth and adorned with small holes in the body.
The phenomenal gnocchi alla bava is a typical winter dish. After staying outside in the cold you just look forward to warming up your body and your soul with a comfort food.
The name has not fancy origins.
Indeed, the “bava” in Italian is the drool. The name comes from the texture of the condiment that is like the saliva. Not every cheese adapts so well to make the perfect creamy condiment like the fontina.
- 1 1/2 lbs (600 g) red potatoes
- 1 1/2 cups (180 g) all purpose flour (use the buckwheat flour to make them gluten free, or just more traditional!)
- salt to taste
- 1 2/3 cups (400 ml) heavy cream
- 1/3 lbs (150 ml) Fontina DOP cheese
- milk to taste
- black pepper to taste
- fresh oregano if you like it
How to make the homemade Gnocchi:
- Wash the potatoes and boil them with the peel on for about 30/40 minutes (test with a fork, they have to be soft)
- Peel the potatoes when they are still warm and press them with a potatoes masher
- Add salt and the flour a little bit at the time, while kneading quickly with your hands until the dough is smooth. The less flour you use, the softer the gnocchi will be. The quantity of flour depends a lot on the quality and dryness of the potatoes
- Cut the dough in small pieces and roll them until they are 1/2 inch thick. Cut the gnocchi (1 inch)
- Slightly press and roll the gnocchi on a fork to give them the typical shape
- Warm the heavy cream in a pot to medium heat, then add the chopped fontina
- Stir until the cream is smooth. Eventually, you can add some milk to taste
How to prepare the gnocchi alla bava:
- Boil the gnocchi in salty water: once they come to the surface they are ready to drain
- Add the gnocchi to the creamy sauce, grind some black pepper to taste and serve
- They are good also if you cook them au gratin for a few minutes before serving
A little but of history of gnocchi alla bava
Where the gnocchi alla bava come from?
They say that the famous King Carlo Alberto’s chef, Mr. Giovanni Vialardi, mentioned this recipe in his 1854 culinary book, Essay on cooking and pastry.
During that period, the royal cuisine imitated the French one, very famous at the time. The original name of the gnocchi alla bava was “Savoyard quenelle” from the French quenelle and with reference to Savoy, the historical region where the Italian royal family originated.
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