Summer Veggie "Chicche" (Small Gnocchi)
Updated: Aug 30
Delicious and tasty, "chicche" (pronounced kik-ke) are essentially small potato gnocchi, following the traditional classic gnocchi recipe. But, compared to gnocchi, they are much smaller and as such take even less to cook - just slightly over a minute.
I made them with a summery mix of sautéed vegetables - zucchini, asparagus, red and yellow peppers, garden peas, sweet corn, cherry tomatoes. Then added fresh mint and a dash of fresh cream and grated pecorino for a lush finish.
It's interesting how certain foods get all the attention, while others just as deserving never quite make it into the spotlight.
Gnocchi is one such example. Potato gnocchi have become quite popular outside Italy - there's something comforting and satisfying about eating these pillowy, slightly chewy dumplings.
But what you may not know is that potato gnocchi are just one of the countless varieties of gnocchi that are made throughout Italy. These are some of the ones you may come across as you travel across the country:
Potato gnocchi are certainly the most well-known variety. However, even here we need to make a fundamental distinction - they can be made with or without eggs. I've posted a version of my homemade eggless potato gnocchi here. The chicche I'm sharing today are just a smaller variety of these.
Canederli - bread gnocchi typical of the north-east of Italy, particularly the regions of Trentino Alto-Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia and parts of Veneto. The name and recipe can be linked to Knödel or Klöße - boiled dumplings commonly found in Central European and East European cuisine. They are usually eaten in a broth, or dry with melted butter and grated Parmigiano cheese.
Malfatti - coming from Lombardia (where Milan is), these are giant, colourful gnocchi made with semolina, ricotta, spinach and eggs. Really special, they go great with a simple tomato sauce. The name literally means "badly made", due to their irregular shape
Gnudi are a lighter variety made in Tuscany. Gnudi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈɲuːdi]) are gnocchi-like dumplings made with ricotta cheese instead of potato, mixed with semolina. The name, in Tuscan dialect, means "naked". They are great sautéed with butter and crispy sage.
Gnocchi Romani, as the name suggests, are prepared in Rome and are probably the most unique in this list. Made using semolina flour, they aren’t boiled but rather the ingredients are combined and gently cooked in a pan until a dough forms, which is then left to cool in a tray. Circles of dough are then cut out and laid in a pan, sprinkled with even more cheese and baked. Italian comfort food!!
And let's not forget all the alternative versions to the classic ones! You can swap all or part of the potatoes with sweet potatoes, pumpkin or squash, aubergine, spinach and so much more
Ingredients (for 2)
260g of chicche (or you can use regular potato gnocchi, same quantity)
1 medium-small zucchini, sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
8-10 asparagus tips (reserve the remaining part for omelette or risotto)
8-10 cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup garden peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A dash of fresh cooking cream
A generous amount of grated pecorino
A handful of chopped fresh mint
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and add, first, the sliced zucchini. Sauté for 2 minutes, then flip to cook on the other side. At this point, add the asparagus tips, garden peas, and season with salt and pepper.
Sauté for another 2 minutes, then add the sweet corn, cooking cream and cook for another minute. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the chicche. They will only require about a minute to cook (and slightly longer for regular gnocchi) so keep a close eye on them.
The chicche are ready when they start floating on top of the water. Scoope them with a slotted spoon or skimmer and transfer them directly to the pan with the veggies. Shake the pan delicately to mix them all up, turn off the flame and lastly top with fresh chopped mint and grated pecorino.
Serve immediately and buon appetito!