Adding Gnocchi To Stuffing Will Take The Texture And Flavor To Another Level

While mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and even turkey weren´t a part of the first American Thanksgiving in 1621, stuffing has always been on the menu. Today, stuffing has evolved into numerous iterations, many of which are baked in casserole dishes instead of inside the turkey as its name suggests. In fact, stuffing has become a veritable savory bread pudding, using hearty chunks of French bread, sourdough, or cornbread to soak up broth, seasonings, and caramelized aromatics. Bread may be the agreed-upon stuffing starch for most, but gnocchi is the texture and flavor upgrade for your stuffing that will definitely warrant a second helping at the Thanksgiving table.

Gnocchi are bite-sized potato and flour dumplings known for their rich, earthy flavor and chewy, hearty texture. With potatoes as the main ingredient, gnocchi is equally if not better suited to soak up all of the moisture and seasonings in your stuffing without drying out. Its earthy, savory richness adds depth of flavor while its heartier texture makes it the ultimate comforting Thanksgiving dish.

From a practical standpoint, gnocchi is just as easy to use as bread because it comes pre-made, packaged, and often frozen. Unlike loaves of bread, gnocchi won't be flying off the shelves around Thanksgiving, so you can count on it being an abundant and accessible stuffing ingredient. Just as there are many types of bread you can use in stuffing, gnocchi also comes in various flavors, providing the same broad range of ingredient pairings.

How to add gnocchi to stuffing and complement its texture and flavor

As a premade starch, you can use gnocchi interchangeably with bread in a classic stuffing recipe. An important preparation step for both bread pieces and gnocchi is to toast them before incorporating them with the rest of your stuffing ingredients. Toasting gnocchi will cook it through, crisp it up, and dry it out to increase its absorption capacity.

You can toss gnocchi in a bit of olive oil before toasting them in the oven at 450 F for 30 minutes, during which time you can saute the accompanying ingredients. When the toasted gnocchi comes out of the oven, combine it with the sauteed ingredients and mix with beaten eggs and broth in a casserole dish before popping it back into the oven for another 40 or 50 minutes.

You can swap gnocchi in for bread in a traditional stuffing recipe, pairing it with an herb-seasoned mirepoix saute, chicken broth, and eggs. However, you can also draw inspiration from gnocchi´s Italian origins by adding Italian sausage, sage, and oregano to the mix. You could also add fresh spinach, cracked pepper, and a few dollops of ricotta to your gnocchi stuffing for an Italianized, vegetarian version.

If you are used to a sweeter cornbread stuffing, try using sweet potato gnocchi paired with caramelized onion, rosemary, sage, chopped pecans, and crystallized ginger for a spicy kick. For the ultimate Thanksgiving-themed stuffing, add some pumpkin puree!