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The Pasta Swap You Should Be Making For An Elevated Alfredo Dish

gnocchi alfredo
gnocchi alfredo - Hann Leon Stock/Shutterstock

When it comes to the pantheon of Italian-American cuisine, few dishes quite touch the richness of fettuccine Alfredo. What was once a simple plate of fresh pasta with a sauce made from butter and parmesan has morphed into a dish so laden with a creaminess that the noodles almost seem at best predictable if not altogether superfluous to the whole affair. We're not knocking Alfredo sauce or fettuccine, but it's high time that we reappraise the pairing and expand our vision of how the dish comes together. For a sauce as robust and assertive as Alfredo, maybe we need pasta with just as much backbone. That's where gnocchi steps in.

Fettuccine, although a staple, can feel mundane because it is simply another flour noodle. Gnocchi, on the other hand, are small potato dumplings that bring a pillowy soft, yet toothsome texture to the dish. Yes, like fettuccine they contain flour, but that's just to add support and body to the dumplings. The star of the show is the potato, offering up the almost nutty vegetal flavor and fluffiness incumbent on the tuber. What's more, the textured exterior so often found on gnocchi gives it loads of surface area that the Alfredo sauce can cling to.

Read more: 23 Types Of Potatoes And When To Use Them

Gnocchi Can Add Texture And Flavor

sweet potato gnocchi
sweet potato gnocchi - Patrycja St/Shutterstock

Now, let's talk about the preparation. While traditional fettuccine is simply boiled before being tossed in the Alfredo sauce, gnocchi offers a bit more versatility. One option is to add the gnocchi directly to the simmering Alfredo sauce after they have been boiled. This allows the dumplings to soak up the flavors of the sauce while maintaining their tender texture. The gnocchi act as sponges, absorbing a little of the Alfredo, resulting in a dish that is bursting with flavor. Alternatively, for those craving a bit of crunch, pan-frying the gnocchi before adding them to the sauce can take this dish to the next level. After boiling the dumplings, add them to a pan with butter, ghee, or olive oil and fry until golden for a crispy exterior that contrasts beautifully with the creamy sauce.

Gnocchi isn't just a textural variation to a dish of Alfredo sauce but can be a great foil for other ingredients that one typically adds to Alfredo sauce. Chicken, garlic, broccoli, and spinach all pair wonderfully with them. Gnocchi can also be themselves a vehicle for added flavors, such as complex sweet potato. Simply swapping roasted or steamed sweet potatoes out for regular potatoes makes for gnocchi that has a sugary bite to balance the savory, luscious sauce.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.