Gnocchi di Pane Raffermo (Stale Bread Dumplings)

12 Mar

This is a quick and easy recipe for gnocchi made with stale bread!

These bread dumplings, also called Zanzarelli, are an ancient food. They began to appear in the Renaissance banquets in Lombardy as a delicacy and were prepared with bread crumbs, milk and chopped almonds. The recipe that I am proposing belongs to my family’s culinary traditions. I remember that I prepared these delicious dumplings with my grandmother at least once a week, especially on Friday (the gnocchi day). This dish is very tasty and can satisfy the palates of lovers of sweet-savory combinations and spicy food. The recipe includes stale bread, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and grated Parmesan cheese. Once boiled, the dumplings are served with melted butter flavored with sage. The sage’s aroma gives a fragrant and delicate taste to this recipe. You can enjoy it as a first course or as main dish. These are an excellent alternative to the traditional potato dumplings (see post gnocchi di patate) and can also be an appetizing vegetarian dish containing, however, eggs.

Preparation time: 20 min. Cooking time: 1-2 min. Servings: 4


180 g (6.5 oz) stale bread
150 g (5 oz) raisins
140 g (5 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
160 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg

60 grams (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted
3 sage leaves

1. In a large bowl soak the bread with milk. Let stand for about 15 min. until the bread is completely softened
2. Meanwhile in a small bowl, soak the raisins in lukewarm water for 5 minutes
3. Squeeze the bread with your hands to completely eliminate milk. In a large bowl combine bread, Parmesan, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, strained raisins, egg and flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough is smooth. The amount of flour should be adjusted after cooking a couple of dumplings as a test (See next point)
4. In a pot, bring plenty salted water to a boil. Drop in a small ball of dough (teaspoon-sized). Before cooking the entire amount of dough, I suggest you do a test with a couple of dumplings to see if the dough is set. The right dumpling should be firm but not hard and does not break into pieces in the water. If it breaks , you should add 1-2 tablespoons of flour and repeat the test.
5. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon as soon as it floats, about 1-2 min.
6. In a separate sauce pan melt the butter with sage, to give the flavor. Arrange gnocchi on a serving plate and toss with the flavored butter and grated Parmesan cheese.- Paola

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