Food & Wine

The origin of the gnocchi sbatùi

Gnocchi Valpantena

The simplicity of the origins

The dictionary of the Italian language includes several words that originate from more or less specific places in the Italian territory. Just as by 'fiumara' we mean the rivers and streams of southern Italy, with wide and dry beds all year round except for the rainy season, in the north the word 'malga' originates from those typical pastures of the Italian Alps eastern and sometimes central areas, where the animals spend their days during the so-called 'summer season', and by those characteristic wooden structures used as shelter for livestock, tool shed and residence for the people who take care of the pasture.
Even in Veneto, between Valpantena and Lessinia, 'malga' is a common term, so common that it has been associated with a typical regional dish and in particular of this area: gnocchi di malga. The name literally betrays the birth of this delicious dish of the Veneto mountain tradition. The simplicity of its ingredients derives from the raw materials available to the farmers, forced to spend a lot of time alone and isolated right in the huts. As is the case with various other typical dishes of Northern Italy, even the gnocchi di malga, a dish that combines the charm of the history of the place with the modern desire to rediscover typical local dishes, are distinguished by the poverty of ingredients and their substantiality, which allowed farmers to face the long days in the pastures.

... di malga, sbatùi or from Lessina?

Gnocchi di malga are a very famous dish in the Valpantena area but the name could confuse those who discover them for the first time. The dish, especially among local residents, is commonly called gnocchi sbatùi.
The reason? The soft wheat flour and water are mixed and then mixed vigorously, almost 'beating' the resulting dough. For this reason the denomination 'gnocchi sbatùi' has become very popular. But that's not all. In 2022 the dish took on a territorial brand, Gnocchi della Lessinia, officially becoming part of the national list of traditional agri-food products, at the end of an almost two-year journey. Call them di malga, sbatùi or della Lessinia.
The most important thing is to visit Valpantena and try one of the local delicacies.

Gnocchi Sbatui

The Recipe

Ideal for winter evenings, gnocchi  di malga can be made following a very simple recipe.

In reference to a number of diners that does not exceed four units, 500g of flour and an equal measure of water at 70 degrees are needed, in order to obtain a thick mixture to be divided with the aid of a spoon. The dough must be boiled in salted water until the gnocchi rise to the surface, before being drained. Then a fundamental step: the gnocchi must be completely covered with melted butter and with a generous sprinkling of grated cheese (Monte Veronese is the ideal ingredient but it can be replaced with the more common Grana). The butter must be melted in the pan, into which the gnocchi are poured to be sautéed for the time strictly necessary before being served.