Plum Gnocchi-Gnocchi di Susine are delicate potato gnocchi filled with sweet Italian plums and an addictive cinnamon sugar topping. You decide if you want it for dessert or serve it as a main pasta dish as they do in some parts of Italy.
This dish may seem totally strange to some of you. So many of you have probably had gnocchi and even made your own, but plum gnocchi (gnocchi di susine) may be a completely new surprise. It wasn’t a surprise to me the first time I had it in Italy.
It was a spectacular summer evening in Trieste. I had just arrived and was visiting the family of a dear friend. We were enjoying the evening sun and having an aperitivo while mamma was making dinner for all of us. It was the first time I had ever been to Trieste and I wasn’t totally familiar with typical dishes from that area of Italy. When mamma called us to the table and brought out to start the gnocchi di susine (plum gnocchi) I was pleasantly surprised!
I was very familiar with the dish as my Hungarian aunt (they’re called szilvas gomboc in Hungarian) used to make it often when I was growing up and so did my mom! My friends explained how Trieste is the capital of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region and it was ruled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
In what countries do they eat plum dumplings?
Not only are they enjoyed in Trieste and in Hungary, they are also found in Eastern European homes from Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia and Slovakia. Czechoslovakia and are called svestkove knedliky and in Croatia they are knedle sa šljivama. The dumplings are only made in the fall when the Italian Plums also called prune plums are in season. I’ve been very lucky to find them recently at my favorite fruit market every week and I make them often!
The gnocchi is just like making gnocchi di patate (potato gnocchi). The hardest part is probably getting the right size of the dumplings and carefully nestling in the plum pieces. You don’t want any pieces to pop out or it it will open up while boiling. The best part of the dish is probably the cinnamon sugar!! And you may ask is it a dessert or a is it something to have for dinner?
When we were in Trieste, it was served as a pasta starter before the meat. When I make it, I usually also have a soup and a salad and the kids just love the gnocchi as the main course. I’ve also heard of them being served with melted butter and grated Parmigiano Reggiano, but we stick to the traditional way with cinnamon sugar.
The Italian plums are small, but I still cut them in bite-sized pieces. I rolled out my portions of the gnocchi dough and stuffed them inside and formed small balls. When the gnocchi are cooked they are tossed in melted butter and toasted bread crumbs. The cinnamon sugar is tossed on top and trust me, my kids always like a little extra dash of the cinnamon sugar. Here is a great article in the New York Times to read up more on Trieste and this one in Saveur goes more into detail on the food of Trieste.
Tips on how to make gnocchi dough
1) mash the potatoes while they are hot.
2) cool the potatoes before adding to flour/eggs.
3) don’t forget to add flour to your working surface so it won’t stick while you are working it.
4) don’t over mix or it will become mushy.
5) cook in boiling/salted water.
6) don’t stir while cooking or they will stick.
7) they will float to top when they are ready
Some other delicious gnocchi for you to try:
GNOCCHI DI SUSINE-PLUM GNOCCHI
- 2 1/4 pound russet potatoes
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 10 small Italian prune plums or 4 red or purple plums pitted and quartered
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- Cinnamon and sugar to taste
- Place whole potatoes in a heavy pot with lightly salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a low boil and cook until just tender, about 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel and force through ricer or food mill onto a sheet pan, spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely.
- On a lightly floured board, gather potatoes into a mound in sheet pan, using a pastry scraper if you have one, and form a well in center. Pour beaten eggs and salt into the well, then blend into the potatoes. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of the flour over the potatoes and gently mix in. Add remaining flour as needed until a dough just forms. Dust top lightly with some flour and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Bring water to a boil with 1-2 tablespoons of salt. Pinch off a walnut-sized piece of dough and flatten into a 2 1/2 inch circle. Place a quarter plum piece stuffed with a half a sugar cube in the center of each round of dough. Close the dough around the filling to form a smooth package with no tears. Repeat with remaining dough and plums.
- Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and toast until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Add gnocchi, 8 or so at a time (so that they don’t touch) to the boiling water, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Wait for them to rise to the top and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well. Add to the bread crumb mixture and gently toss to coat.
- Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with remaining bread crumbs, cinnamon and sugar to taste. Serve warm as an appetizer, pasta main or dessert.