October 9, 2021

Everyone loves pasta and you can create lots of delicious meals with pasta. Lots of people believe that gnocchi is a type of pasta… but it’s not, exactly.

They can both be used in similar ways, but they are both two very different ingredients to use in your cooking. In this article, we will discover everything about gnocchi and pasta. Read on to learn more.

What Is Gnocchi?

Gnocchi originates from Italy and is often made with Italian flavors, but other varieties of this dumpling have started to arise from France, Croatia and even Southern America. In Italian, gnocchi actually means ‘lumps’, which is what they do look like.

Gnocchi is made with potatoes, flour, eggs and occasionally cheese. It is formed into a solid dumpling shape and can be rolled onto the back of a fork to create indentations. These little grooves help hold onto and suck up any sauce that you use with the gnocchi.

Gnocchi is a great alternative for a healthier and gluten free pasta option, as a lot less flour is used. It can be treated like pasta and can be cooked by being boiled in water or tossed in a sauce to heat through.

Like pasta once it has been formed, fresh gnocchi takes only a few minutes to cook. They are seen as very small bite sized pieces.

There are lots of gnocchi recipes out there that you can try. However, Gnocchi’s main ingredient is potatoes, which makes gnocchi normally quite light and fluffy to eat.

What Is Pasta?

Pasta is made using mainly flour, which is made into a dough using egg and water. It is then kneaded and formed into the shape as desired.

There are around 100 different types of pasta, all of which are different sizes and shapes. However, you will notice that pasta is a lot thinner than gnocchi.

The Different Shapes Of Pasta

As mentioned beve, there are 100 different types of pasta and a lot of them have different shapes. Below are some of the most common shapes you can find pasta in. A few of these shapes you should recognise, if you are a regular pasta enjoyer.

  • Strand pasta like spaghetti,
  • Shaped pasta like penne or farfalle,
  • Ribbon pasta like tagliatelle
  • Stuffed pasta such as ravioli
  • Soup pasta like fregula.

Each different type of pasta has different benefits for the dishes they are used for. Shaped pasta, especially tubed shaped pasta are known for their ability to be able to collect the pasta sauce in their hole. Which means every bite you have a taste of pasta sauce.

While stuffed pasta is a great way to get more textures and flavors into your dish. Soup shaped pasta can look like yellow colored rice, but unlike rice, it absorbs a lot of sauce and flavor.

Each different shape has benefits, but normally it is all about getting the most flavour possible. Pasta on its own doesn’t have much taste, but once it soaks up the flavors of a sauce or a dressing it changes and makes it interesting to eat.

How Do You Cook Gnocchi And Pasta?

How Do You Cook Gnocchi And Pasta

When it comes to gnocchi, sometimes you need to boil them first, which makes them very light and pillow-like. Leaving your gnocchi like this is perfectly fine, as it will absorb any flavourings like a sauce.

However, you can also fry gnocchi, which will result in you having crispy gnocchi on the outside and soft, fluffy gnocchi on the inside.

A lot of Italians would suggest that you don’t fry the gnocchi, because frying is seen as a new method, but it is up to you how you cook your gnocchi and all methods bring a new flavor and texture to the gnocchi.

The cooking of pasta is very similar to gnocchi, however we normally always boil it to cook it. Once it is tender, in a lot of recipes you will toss the pasta in the sauce you are cooking with, as the pasta soaks up this sauce. This adds more flavor to the pasta, as the sauce literally sticks to it.

Both pasta and gnocchi have very similar cooking methods and neither really requires much effort. It all depends on the dish that you are cooking.

When Do You Use Pasta Or Gnocchi?

Both ingredients can used in place of each other. There are lots of different recipes out there, but even though they aren’t the same thing they can be used very similarly. If you are a lover of pasta then you can substitute pretty much any of your beloved pasta dishes for gnocchi.

Both ingredients crave a dish with a sauce that they can soak up. However, you can get inventive with what you add to your dish alongside pasta and/or gnocchi.

Nutritional Value Of Pasta And Gnocchi

Both gnocchi and pasta are seen as carbohydrate heavy foods. Yet the amount of carbs they both contain differ massively. It might be surprising but pasta actually contains more carbohydrates than gnocchi.

Pasta has two times the amount of carbohydrates per serving compared to gnocchi. This might be surprising because gnocchi is made of potatoes, but it is all the flour that pasta uses which makes more carbohydrate heavy.

Alongside this, gnocchi is very sodium rich, with over 200 grams per serving. While pasta doesn’t come close to this sodium content.

As gnocchi is made with potato, the potatoes that you choose can affect the nutritional value and health benefits of the gnocchi. Sweet potato gnocchi are high in many nutrients that our bodies need.

While sweet potato is also great for your digestive system and overall brain function. So, sweet potato gnocchi has more benefits to you than regular gnocchi, but it does depend on what else you add to your gnocchi mixture, which could affect the nutritional value of your gnocchi.

Although, like gnocchi you can make pasta slightly healthier, by the flour that you use. You can make wholemeal flour which is slightly better for you.

The issue is what you have with your pasta and gnocchi as it is normally a very rich sauce, which then affects the healthiness of the pasta or gnocchi.

Neither gnocchi or pasta are foods that you should really be eating every day. Both are high in carbohydrates and low in other nutrients and protein that you need.

They both can be enjoyed as a treat once in a while, if you are someone who is careful with their diet and what they eat. Out of the two, gnocchi is slightly better for you, but neither have many benefits for you.

Final Thoughts

A lot of people think that gnocchi is a type of pasta, but really it is a type of small potato dumpling. However, this confusion might come from the fact that gnocchi looks very much like pasta and can be treated pretty much exactly like any other pasta that you normally use and eat.

Overall, gnocchi is better for someone who is trying to eat less carbohydrates, but neither pasta or gnocchi are very nutritious for you.

Gnocchi has a limited amount of shapes and sizes that you will see it in. Compared to pasta, where there is a long list of different shapes and sizes that you can find and make pasta into. Yet both are very versatile ingredients, which you can use in substitute for one another.

Both, pasta and gnocchi will help you create your all time favorite italian dishes.

Rick Zullo

Former doctor, current science teacher, and life-long food lover, Rick's passion for Mediterranean cuisine was ignited while living as an expat in Rome, Italy. 


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