Umbrian Breadcrumb Gnocchi with Sausage and Beans (gnocchetti collescipolani)
This breadcrumb gnocchi with sausage and beans is a hearty traditional dish from Umbria. The gnocchi are unusual as they are made with just breadcrumbs, flour and water. However, they are easy to make and go so well with the rich and flavourful sauce. Definitely, a recipe to add to your autumn/winter menu!
For the breadcrumb gnocchi
- 180 g Italian '00' soft wheat flour (6oz) or all purpose flour
- 120 g breadcrumbs (4oz) homemade or store bought
- 1 tsp salt
- 120 ml warm water (1/2 cup)
For sausage and bean sauce
- 200 g borlotti beans (7oz) precooked or canned
- 100 g guanciale (3.5oz) or pancetta. Cut into cubes.
- 200 g tomato passata (3.5oz) or peeled and chopped fresh tomatoes
- 2 Italian pork sausages Casing removed and meat crumbled
- 1/2 onion peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery finely chopped
- 2 carrots finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove peeled and finely chopped
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
- salt for gnocchi and to taste
Make the breadcrumb gnocchi
Mix the breadcrumbs, flour and a tsp of salt together in a bowl. Slowly add the warm water while using your hands to work the ingredients into a dough. You may not need all the water or you may need to add a bit more. The dough has to be soft and slightly tacky but not wet.
Turn the dough out onto a pastry board and knead a little. Not a lot as otherwise your gnocchi will be too dense. Cover the dough with clingfilm (plastic wrap) and let it rest for 30-60 minutes.
After letting the dough rest, make the gnocchi by rolling pieces of dough into 'snakes' about 1.5 cm (0.5ins) thick and then cutting the snakes into small 1-2 cm (0.5-0.75 ins) pieces. Put the ready gnocchi onto a tray or tea towel that’s been dusted with flour while you make the rest and the sauce. I find semolina flour is the best for dusting
Make the sausage and bean sauce.
Remove the casing from the sausages and crumble the meat into small pieces. Cut the guanciale/ pancetta into small cubes or strips. Peel the onion and wash the carrots and celery. Finely chop all 3. Peel and finely chop the garlic.
Sauté the onion, garlic, celery and carrots over a low heat in extra virgin olive oil. Then add the guanciale and the crumbled sausages. Turn the meat so it browns. After about 10 minutes, add the tomato passata and continue cooking for another15 minutes. Add salt to taste and then add the boiled/canned beans and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Finish and serve.
Just before you are ready to serve, cook the breadcrumb gnocchi in plenty of boiling salted water. Remove them using a slotted spoon as they come to the surface and add them to the sauce. (taste test before removing the gnocchi from the water). Mix everything together well and serve with grated pecorino.
If using dried beans (as I did) you will need to soak them overnight and then cook in water for about 45-60 minutes. Otherwise rinsed canned beans work well too!
Cooking times don't include cooking the beans or leaving the gnocchi dough to rest.