Gnocchi di pane (bread gnocchi) with mint

(read in Italian)

Gnocchi di pane (bread gnocchi) with mint

There are plenty of ways to use leftovers and find simple strategies to reduce food waste: it’s not really a matter of complexity or perfection, but it’s more about consistency. Stale bread can open up a wide array of possibilities and the chance to create many delicious meals. These gnocchi made with leftover bread and a few other ingredients are a great way to create something a bit more special for dinner and they are super easy to make!

This is an example of how you can turn stale bread into a completely different meal by hydrating it, creating a brand new texture and the starting point for your gnocchi. You could also use stale bread to add some crunchiness to a salad (exactly what I’ve done with this lentil salad with blueberries, feta, and bread croutons), to make a tasty French toast, or to create a flavorful Summer salad in which the bread absorbs all the juice from the ripe tomatoes.

The classic potato gnocchi are a timeless classic and I know I can never go wrong with them (if you have never tried to make them at home, you should definitely give them a go and here there’s an example). But sometimes changing is good!

You can make these bread gnocchi with any kind of bread and the flavor of the final result will be related to this main ingredient: I prefer using a tomato-based sauce for gnocchi made with stale white bread, and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or a bit of butter or fresh cream for those made with brown bread. Here I’ve used a a few slices of whole grain walnut bread and it was already pretty rich in flavor so I’ve simply tossed my gnocchi with olive oil, black pepper, and aged cheese (this was cheddar but even a cheese made with sheep milk would be perfect).

Gnocchi di pane (bread gnocchi) alla menta
Gnocchi di pane (bread gnocchi) with mint
Gnocchi di pane (bread gnocchi) with mint
Gnocchi di pane (bread gnocchi) with mint

Gnocchi di pane (bread gnocchi) with mint

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 200 g stale bread
  • 80-110 g flour (you can use any kind of flour – here since the starting point was brown bread, I’ve used a mix of white unbleached flour and whole grain flour to ease the preparation of gnocchi)
  • 1 egg
  • 130-150 ml milk
  • 1 large handful of fresh mint leaves
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • to serve: extra virgin olive oil, freshly grated aged cheese, black pepper

In a bowl, mix the the bread (chopped into small pieces) with the warm milk: leave it to rest for approx. 20 minutes, then use a fork to break the last few pieces of bread and create a sort of creamy mixture. It’s better adding more milk after this step if you notice that the bread is not properly soaked, rather than ending up with a watery mixture.

When the soaked bread will be ready, combine it with the flour, egg, black pepper, and mint (finely chopped). Use a spoon to mix all the ingredients first, then use your hands for checking the consistency toward the end of the preparation. Depending on which bread are you using, you may need to add a different amount of flour: the dough will be ready when it doesn’t stick to your hands and you can create a ball with your hands. Try not to over-knead the dough. Divide it into a few pieces, then roll each of them to make even ropes. Use a non-serrated knife or a pastry cutter to cut the ropes and create your gnocchi (they will measure approx. 1.5-2 cm). Toss the gnocchi with some flour to ensure they won’t stick to each other while you wait to cook them.

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot with boiling water, waiting until they float to the top (I usually wait other 30 seconds or 1 minute, depending on the size of my gnocchi). Gently remove the gnocchi from water and drain them well. Place in each serving bowl and toss them with olive oil, grated cheese, and black pepper.

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