Growing up, I would spend every Christmas Eve with the Italian side of my family. We would get together for what is called The Feast of the Seven Fishes. This is an Italian-American tradition of having a large meal to celebrate this special holiday. The meal is meatless because in the Catholic tradition, many families abstain from eating meat on the eve of certain holy days. In our family, this would be our traditional Christmas Eve meal before attending midnight mass. The several hour-long dinner consisted of various fish dishes and a few pasta dishes.
As a child, I wasn’t very keen on seafood, especially the boccala and smelts which seemed to be menu staples year in and year out. Knowing this, my Nonna would make me my favorite dish – potato gnocchi with marinara. Since I was always the first one to her house, she would wait until I arrived so she could make them in front of me. She would roll the dough and potato mixture into long logs then cut them every half-inch or so. My favorite part was watching her use her thumb to roll each piece into a perfect pillow-like shape. The gnocchi was always served with her homemade marinara and a generous sprinkling of pecorino romano. My mouth is watering as I write this 🙂
During the height of COVID, I decided to try my hand at Nonna’s amazing dish. While I have yet to replicate the exact texture of her gnocchi, I still love watching the process. However, instead of watching Nonna, I now watch as Sandy rolls out the dough mixture I made, and Ethan, Jace, and Trey take turns cutting and thumb-rolling each one. One thing that hasn’t changed is the warmth I feel each time I enjoy homemade gnocchi.
Nonna never wrote down her recipes, but THIS one will get you pretty close.
Head of School