Piatto rustico – gnocchi di polenta con ragù di verdura e ricotta salata


Let’s pursue our polenta adventures with this rustic dish that can be made with leftover polenta. I don’t like to throw away food, but I don’t like to eat something that is leftover just because it’s a leftover, it needs to be good and flavorful. Rather than throwing away solid and somehow plain polenta, let’s turn it into something delicious.

I grew up with potato gnocchi so these polenta gnocchi are not something I inherited from my mom, beside they are a specialty from Trentino region (or Trentino Alto Adige) where they eat lots of polenta) which is located in the North-East of Italy close to the Austrian, Swiss and Liechenstein borders. They serve polenta gnocchi often with wild mushrooms and melted cheese sauce. You can use whatever you like on the gnocchi, it’s all up to your tastes (of course, I wouldn’t put melted chocolate on top!) but any tomato sauce, seafood or cheese based sauce would work fine. You can substitute ricotta salata with parmesan or pecorino too.

The sauce is vegetable based, I wanted to stay on the light and simple side with carrots, celery and zucchini with a tomato sauce enhanced by some cayenne or peperoncino.

I have to say that I find these gnocchi to be lighter than potato gnocchi and quite delicious and such a great dish when you don’t know what to do with leftover polenta.

Ingredients for 2

For the gnocchi

  • 1 cup leftover polenta
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 1 egg

For the sauce

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbs olive oil (+1 for drizzling at the end)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 1/2 zucchini, diced
  • 5 tbs crushed tomatoes
  • cayenne to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • ricotta salata


For the gnocchi

In a wooden board mix polenta, flour and egg and mix well until the mixture is smooth and non sticky. If sticky at a little flour. Proceed like you would for regular potato gnocchi. Cook like regular gnocchi in a salted boiling water. When the gnocchi come at the surface, remove from heat and drain.

For the sauce

In a pan, heat olive oil, add garlic and stir until fragrant without burning the garlic. Add all the cut vegetables, basil. Cover and cook at slow temperature until the vegetables are cooked but still a bit firm. Add crushed tomatoes, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook until the sauce thickens a bit and water evaporates.

Pour sauce on top of gnocchi, decorate with ricotta salata and drizzle with some extra olive oil. Serve very hot.