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For me, the gastronomic journey in the Rieti area has become an annual appointment that has been repeated for three years now and that each time makes me discover new recipes of a cuisine made of few ingredients, authentic and with an unmistakable flavour: this is what Gnocchetti in frasca gluten-free dumplings make you experience.

But what are Gnocchetti in frasca? They are a dish handed down by the inhabitants of Micciani in Cittaducale, prepared with grains that were harvested and milled in the mills along the Peschiera river in the Velino Valley. These small dumplings were in fact prepared by mixing two flours, corn and wheat flour (which I have replaced with a gluten-free flour), on which the survival of families was based. The accompanying sauce is based on stewed beans that were flavoured with a few slices of guanciale, i.e. pork cheek, to give an unmistakable touch of flavour and the calories needed to cope with the hard work in the fields and the harsh temperatures of winter.

Today, considering instead that the need is to reduce calories more and more, we can possibly do without the splendid guanciale (which I used while remaining faithful to tradition, choosing the Guanciale amatriciano Sano) to prepare Gnocchetti in frasca with beans and tomato, thus transforming the recipe into a vegan and nutritionally balanced dish.

Tradition dictates that Gnocchetti are served as a soup by adding the cooking water from previously prepared Borlotti beans: in short, the perfect dish for cold winter days.

Read about the history of Spaghetti all’Amatriciana to get to know a land yet to be discovered.

gnocchetti-in-frasca

Gnocchetti in frasca gluten-free dumplings

20g carbohydrates per 100g

considering adding 500g of cooking water to the soup

Ingredients for 6 servings

  • 400g tomato sauce
  • 200g gluten-free pasta flour mix, brand Molino Dallagiovanna**
  • 200g coarse corn flour*
  • approx. 160g lukewarm water
  • 150g dry Borlotti beans
  • 2 slices of pork cheek*
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece of Kombu seaweed (optional)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Soak the Borlotti beans for at least 12 hours, adding a piece of Kombu seaweed of your choice, which will help the digestion of the legumes once cooked. Cook the beans in plenty of water with the addition of a bay leaf, then keep them aside.
  2. Cut the pork cheek into cubes and put in a large pan to brown with a drizzle of oil, then add the tomato sauce and let it flavour for at least 15 minutes. Add the cooked Borlotti beans with a few ladles of their cooking water to make the soup rather liquid.
  3. Place the two flours on a chopping board forming a well, add a pinch of salt and start adding the lukewarm water in the centre of the well, mixing with a fork to start forming a dough. Add the water gradually as the amount may vary depending on the flour and humidity. When the flours are mixed enough to be worked by hand, start kneading them with your hands to obtain a homogeneous, smooth, firm and non-sticky mixture.
  4. Take pieces of dough, form long cylinders with your hands and cut them into 1 cm square dumplings.
  5. Put a large pot of water on the stove, salt it when it comes to the boil and throw in the dumplings to cook them. Drain them with a slotted spoon and pour them into the pan with the Borlotti bean sauce to allow them to take on flavour, adding more Borlotti cooking water. Season with salt and pepper and serve the Gnocchetti when they have the desired texture and flavour.

Version with gluten of Gnocchetti in frasca dumplings

Replace the Molino Dallagiovanna fresh pasta flour mix with an equal amount of wheat flour, adjusting the amount of water needed for kneading.