Minichefs: homemade gnocchi

We’ve recently welcomed a new cookbook to our shelves, The Silver Spoon for Children. It’s the child-friendly version of the most influential and successful Italian cookbook of the last 50 years so we thought it only right to put it to the test with some of our Minichefs. Here’s how they got on making potato gnocchi with tomato sauce.

Silver Spoon for Children gnocchi recipe

Potato gnocchi and tomato sauce

Makes enough for four people

For the tomato sauce


400g tin tomato sauce
1 tsp light brown, soft sugar
1-2 garlic cloves
Basil leaves for serving


1. Put the tinned, chopped tomatoes into a saucepan and add the sugar.
2. Squash the cloves of garlic slightly with a rolling pin, then peel the garlic and add the tomatoes.

Tomato sauce for gnocchi

3. Bring the tomatoes up to a gentle simmer, cover and cook very gently over a very low heat for about 40 minutes. Stir the tomatoes occasionally with a wooden spoon.
4. Take the tomato sauce off the heat, tear the basil leaves into small pieces and add to the sauce with the oil.

Tomato sauce for gnocchi

For the gnocchi


1kg potatoes
1 large free range egg
240g plain flour


1. Using a potato peeler, peel the potatoes.
2. Cut each potato in half. Mind your fingers! Rest the halves, cut side down, on a board before you cut them into quarters. Put the potatoes into a colander.

Slicing potatoes for gnocchi

3. Half-fill a saucepan with water and put the colander on top. Cover with a lid, bring up to the boil, and steam the potatoes for 20 minutes. Cooked like this, the potatoes don’t absorb too much water – you want them to be quite dry to make the gnocchi.
4. Turn off the hob. Ask an adult to help you take the colander off the pan. Carefully poke a skewer or fork into a potato to see if it is cooked – the skewer should glide easily into the potato.
5. Put the potatoes into a bowl and using a potato masher or a ricer mash until smooth. Leave to cool.
6. Crack the egg into a bowl. Add the flour and egg to the cooled mashed potato and mix with a wooden spoon. Then put your hands into the bowl and mix to make a dough.

Adding egg and flour to gnocchi

7. Sprinkle some flour over your work surface, and put the dough onto the flour. Shape the dough into a big square. It should be about 1.5cm thick. Using a table knife, cut the square in half. Cut each half of dough into thin strips – about 1.5cm wide.
8. Roll each strip into a long sausage shape with your hands. Then cut them into small pieces about 1.5cm long, so you end up with lots of small cylindrical pieces, like dough worms. You want them to be quite even in size so that they take the same amount of time to cook.

Minichefs rolling out the gnocchi

9. Sprinkle some flour over a big plate or baking tray and put the gnocchi on the flour.
10. Heat a serving dish in a low oven so that you can keep your gnocchi warm when they are cooked. Ask an adult to help you bring a large pan of water to the boil, add about 8 pieces of gnocchi, and wait for the gnocchi to rise to the surface of the water. When the little bits of gnocchi bob up to the top, it means they’re cooked. This will only take about 1 minute. Cool, hey?
11. Using a slotted spoon lift the gnocchi out of the pan and put into your warm serving dish. Cook the rest of the gnocchi. Ladle your tomato basil sauce on top, and it’s ready to eat!

Minichef cooking gnocchi

The verdict on The Silver Spoon for Children

Our two 9 year old minichefs loved the gnocchi experience. Each step-by-step instruction is fully illustrated so our minichefs could follow the recipe almost entirely on their own. They were as proud as mother hens with their creations. The highlight? Rolling out the gnocchi dough and watching the first cooked pieces bobbing to the surface.

The process did take longer than we expected, as the gnocchi has to be cooked in batches (approximately an hour and a half) but that didn’t seem to phase these little people.

Our minichefs enjoying their gnocchi

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