by Valentina


(4 people)


  • 400g Borlotti Beans, cooked
  • 1 medium potato
  • 50 g whole wheat flour
  • Salt


  • 30g butter
  • 5 sage leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pecorino cheese, grated

To make the gnocchi, purée the beans in a blender. For best results, pass the purée through a sieve.
Purée the boiled potatoes as well (remove the skins) and add them to the bean purée.
Add the flour and a pinch of salt, and knead well for a few minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape them into strips the size of a finger. Cut off 2cm pieces of dough to make the gnocchi, and add them to a floured tray as you cut them. At this point, you can freeze the gnocchi in the tray, or use them straight away.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add salt. Once added to the water, the gnocchi will be ready when they float to the surface, about 2 minutes.
For the sauce, melt the butter in a pan. Add the rinsed, dried and torn sage leaves. Making sure it does not burn, slightly brown the butter – swirl the pan around once it starts to foam. When ready, add the gnocchi as soon as they float to the surface and sauté them to coat with butter.
Finish with pepper to taste and a generous grating of cheese.

In many households, gnocchi have always been the comfort food of choice for many a Sunday lunches. Just like pasta, they work with any sauce, they are cheap to make, and will leave you dead on the couch after the hefty dose of white carbs ingested. This is why gnocchi are perfect for a Sunday: you can only eat them when you know no one will force you off the couch for at least a couple hours after eating.

Gnocchi are also one of those recipes that are victim of debating amongst Italians: are you supposed to add eggs? And what kind of potatoes should you use? and how much flour?
The homemade gnocchi I experienced ignored these questions and were crafted by the capable hands of grandmas and mothers, who did not need any measurements and whose recipes were handed down for generations.

I have never liked gnocchi that much, and my body does not react well to potatoes.

This recipe is therefore much different than the one I grew up with. Using beans to make gnocchi isn't much different than using pumpkin or ricotta. Borlotti beans are as cheap as potatoes, but add protein and consistency, and save us some white carbs.

I kept one potato in the recipe for a better consistency and used whole wheat flour, but these will work with any gluten-free flour as well.
If I make these with seafood or vegetable sauces, I like to go heavy with the condiment, so that I can use less gnocchi and more vegetables.

However, here I present them with a classic, simple sage and butter condiment. You can always try them with lighter sauces such as tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes sautéed in garlic and olive oil, vegetable sauces, Romanesco and anchovies…or, for a festive version, try them with ragú, baked with tomato sauce and mozzarella, or with a seafood sauce. They will taste great and, depending on how you dress them, they can be 100% vegan.

I love their texture so much that I could have a double portion with hardly any sauce, with no more than a sprinkling of olive oil.
But getting off the couch afterwards would be no easy feat, would it?

I am Valentina, a photographer. A transition from the countryside between Marche and Romagna to the USA made me passionate about green, natural cooking. Hortus Cuisine, my blog, was born three years ago from this passion, which now focuses on mediterranean diet and recipes and photography. When I am not taking photos, I love to work on my writing and on honing my knowledge about food and wine. Legumes are the throbbing heart of a blog like mine, which focuses on Italian food. Legumes are the very soul of mediterranean cooking; they are a poor yet beautiful maid, able to make a feast out of naught.