Fried gnocchi was a recent discovery for me and is now one of the great loves of my life. Packet gnocchi used to be a big no-no. I found it to be chewy, slimy and stodgy and no match for fresh homemade gnocchi. This meant that gnocchi was a rare event in my household, only made possible by the odd rainy Sunday that afforded me the time to make it from scratch.
Fried packet gnocchi was a real game-changer. I was delighted to find that those pallid processed little lumps could be transformed into delicious crispy pillows. This recipe combines pan-fried gnocchi with feta, spinach, tomato, pine nuts and fennel. It's a quick and easy one-pan dish that's super tasty and nutritious.
Looking for more ways to transform store-bought gnocchi into a delicious dinner? Take a look at my creamy Baked Gnocchi packed with tasty veggies, finished with a crispy cheese topping with just 35 minutes of prep and cook time. Or this Sweet Potato Gnocchi (with brown butter and sage) is surprisingly easy if you fancy making your own gnocchi.
🛒 What do I need to make this recipe?
- Gnocchi- I recommend using a high quality fresh packet gnocchi for this recipe, such as De Cecco or Dell' Ugo. You can also make your own if you're up for it. I used this recipe last time. Note, that homemade gnocchi has a more delicate consistency than store-bought. It's best to boil the homemade gnocchi for a few minutes until they rise to the top of the pan before you fry them.
- Pine nuts - add a little more protein as well as a yummy crunchy texture. You can switch these for pistachios, walnuts or pecans or sunflower seeds.
- Chilli - you can use chilli flakes instead of fresh chilli, around ½ tsp should be sufficient for 2 people.
Tools & equipment:
This is a simple one-pan recipe that requires 3 main items of cooking equipment and will leave you with a minimal amount of washing up.
- Sharp knife
- 1 medium to large frying pan.
- Pestle and mortar - for lightly crushing the fennel seeds. You can skip this step if you do not have one. The dish will still be yummy.
- Garlic crusher - the quickest way to mince garlic, but you can use a knife if you do not have one.
🧑🍳 How to make Pan Fried Gnocchi With Spinach & Feta
1. Crush the fennel seeds
Lightly crush the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar. This helps to release their flavour when you toast them. If you do not have a pestle and mortar or are in a hurry, you can skip this step. The dish will still taste great, the fennel flavour just won't be as enhanced.
2. Toast the pine nuts
Place a frying pan on a medium to high heat, add the pine nuts and toast them until they begin to brown. Then remove them from the heat and set them aside.
3. Fry the gnocchi
Add the butter and olive oil to the pan. Add the gnocchi as soon as the butter and oil start to bubble and fry for a few minutes until brown, turning to ensure they are cooked on both sides. Set aside when done.
4. Cook up all the other ingredients
Pour the lightly crushed fennel seeds into the pan and toast for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add the chilli and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes, adding a little more oil at this point if you need to. Then add the chopped tomato and cook for a few more minutes. Add the spinach as soon as the tomato begins to soften and cook for a few more minutes until it begins to wilt.
5. Bring it all together and serve
Add the gnocchi back in the pan and toss in the heat for a minute or two. Serve immediately, topped with toasted pine nuts and freshly ground black pepper.
👍 Top tips for perfect fried gnocchi
- Keep an eye on the pine nuts - it only takes a few minutes to toast the pine nuts and they can go from nicely brown to burnt very quickly.
- Fry the gnocchi until brown - you don't want to miss out on that delicious crispy-ness so make sure you fry the gnocchi until it is brown on both sides.
- Add more oil if you need to - you might need to add a little more oil when you fry the chilli, garlic and tomato.
Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days and reheated on the stove or in the microwave. This dish is not suitable for freezing.
Generally no, I never boil packet gnocchi before I fry it. I've found it only adds time and washing up and does not enhance the taste or texture. However, I would advise boiling homemade gnocchi first. It has a more delicate consistency and can stick to the pan if you fry it without boiling first.
I generally prefer fried gnocchi, especially if it's store-bought rather than homemade. When it's done well it's crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle and doesn't have the stodginess and slimy texture that you can get with packet gnocchi.
Yes, just place a frying pan on a medium to high heat and add a little butter and olive oil. Place the frozen gnocchi in the pan when the oil and butter start to bubble and fry for a few minutes until they are brown on one side and then flip them over. Note that frying frozen gnocchi might take a little longer than cooking it from chilled.