There are three main kinds of gnocchi that we see called for in recipes and on restaurant menus:
Gnocchi di Patate - This type of gnocchi is featured in a lot of Northern Italian cuisine and is probably what most of us actually know as gnocchi. It's made by mixing mashed potatoes with flour and egg to form a thick, starchy pasta dough. This dough is rolled into ropes and then cut into individual nuggets before being boiled. Potato gnocchi should ideally have a light, springy texture, and they're great served in a simple sauce.
Gnocchi alla Romana - As you can probably guess from the name, this gnocchi also hails from Italy - and more specifically, from Rome. It's made from semolina (coarsely ground durum wheat) that is cooked much like polenta by boiling the grain with milk or water. The cooked mash is spread out onto a sheet pan to cool and solidify, and then it's cut into rounds. The rounds get layered into a baking dish along with butter, cheese, and any other ingredients, and then baked until bubbly. Classic comfort food!
Gnocchi Parisienne - This is the French spin on the rustic gnocchi. In this preparation, the dumplings are made with - get this! - pâte à choux! The prepared choux paste is piped directly into boiling water and the gnocchi float to the top when done. The texture of this kind of gnocchi is much lighter and airier than potato gnocchi. Most often, the cooked gnocchi are briefly sautéed in butter, which gives them a browned and crunchy exterior to contrast the airy interior.
We'd definitely be hard-pressed to pick a favorite among these kinds of gnocchi! They all sound so delicious and appealing. Do you have a favorite?
Related: Have You Ever Made Gnudi?