Golden brown pan fried gnocchi layered with tomato, corn and zucchini served with a mountain of grated parmesan cheese. This is an easy side dish recipe that will please adults and children alike.
Why You’ll Love This Side Dish
Crispy outside, fluffy inside. Tiny golden brown morsels that you can pop into your mouth and devour in minutes. Seriously, who doesn’t like pan fried gnocchi?
I first discovered pan fried gnocchi when my kids were little. What a great way to add some extra carbs to the meal that had a crunchy texture without too much oil, and it was not messy for them to eat by themselves. Since then, I like to add pan fried gnocchi as a side dish.
To be honest, as much as I love boiled gnocchi with a classic sauce, I find the dish too rich for me to finish by myself.
On the other hand, pan fried gnocchi delivers a whole different perspective and depending on what you serve it with, the dish does not feel overly rich but satisfying at the same time.
For my latest side dishes with pasta recipe, I decided to raid the fridge and use any leftover vegetables I had. A punnet of cherry tomatoes, one zucchini and one ear of corn left.
These three vegetables were perfect for a pan fried gnocchi recipe. Fresh, sweet and colourful. An easy way to spruce up pan fried gnocchi.
This pan fried gnocchi recipe does not have a sauce as such. Instead, I let the natural juices of the cherry tomatoes mingle with the gnocchi and grated parmesan cheese to combine the ingredients.
Golden brown pan fried gnocchi with tomato, corn and zucchini is a quick side dish to share with the family. The flavours will suit adults and children alike. Delicious accompaniment with roast chicken, baked fish or even a hearty stew for dinner.
What Is Gnocchi?
Little potato dumplings. Essentially that is what I think gnocchi is.
Gnocchi is a traditional Italian dish typically served as a first course. It is made using mashed potato, flour and egg.
The three ingredients are rolled into a dough and then cut into small 1 inch pieces. The small dumplings are pressed with a fork or a cheese grater to make ridges.
There are varying recipes for potato gnocchi these days, including substituting potato with pumpkin or cauliflower.
Another popular addition is adding ricotta for a more fluffy texture or spinach for green gnocchi. However, I believe when the classic recipe is so good, there is no need to mess with it.
What Do Gnocchi Taste Like?
To me, potato gnocchi tastes like fluffy balls of mashed potato but not mushy. There is still a slightly chewy texture but not dry or tough.
I know people say potato gnocchi can be too dense, possibly because more flour is used than potato. Nevertheless, good potato gnocchi is not heavy and does not taste too doughy.
As gnocchi is made from potato and flour, there is no real flavour to them. So like other forms of pasta, they are great vehicles to carry other flavours.
Boiled vs Fried Gnocchi?
Traditionally, you would boil the potato gnocchi in a gnocchi dish and then serve with a savoury sauce. The texture of boiled potato gnocchi is soft and silky. Plus, with the sauce, boiled gnocchi is full of flavour and satisfying.
However, there is growing popularity in fried gnocchi. This creates a delicious golden crust on the outside with a fluffy middle on the inside. Guess it is like eating mini roast potatoes!
For boiled gnocchi, it serves more like an entree or main meal as it is like what we know traditional pasta dishes to be. Whilst for fried gnocchi, I feel it can be served as a side dish or even a snack dish to serve with a dipping sauce.
So when it comes to boiled vs fried gnocchi, I enjoy eating both. They have different results and satisfy unique cravings.
How To Fry Gnocchi?
In this gnocchi recipe, I have selected to pan fry my potato gnocchi. The process is simple and I use the same pan for cooking the vegetables. Less washing up!
However, you can also fry gnocchi using the air fryer or even deep fry. This will also create a crunchy golden crust and fluffy inside. An air fryer will probably be better if you have one as it will use less oil than deep frying.
Flavour/Texture: A satisfying gnocchi side dish recipe with crispy pan fried gnocchi bites mixed together with sautéed vegetables adding freshness and crunch. There are interesting textures that don’t make this a boring fried gnocchi recipe.
I love the natural sweetness of the vegetables with a slight hint of the tartness of the balsamic vinegar and finally tied together with salty parmesan cheese—a great balance of flavours for this quick side dish.
Ease: This is an easy side dish as everything is cooked in the pan. Little prep is required to get the tomato, corn and zucchini ready for the pan.
Time: Prep and cooking will take less than 25 minutes.
These are the ingredients you need in Pan Fried Gnocchi.
Gnocchi: I used store bought hand made potato gnocchi for this pan fried gnocchi recipe. The one I bought is considered fresh gnocchi found in the cold fridge section and other fresh pasta options at your local supermarket.
Butter: To create a golden crust and a lush flavour, I prefer to use butter for pan fried gnocchi. However, olive oil would work too if you choose not to use butter.
Cherry tomatoes: I love to pan fry cherry tomatoes. They add a pop of sweetness, and the natural juices add to the overall flavour. Just like we did in our Blistered Tomato and Basil Salad.
Corn: Fresh corn adds wonderful texture and glorious brightness to this pan fried gnocchi recipe. I prefer to use fresh corn over frozen or canned corn as it adds a little more crunch. This also works in our Charred Corn Avocado Salad.
Zucchini: We have red cherry tomatoes, yellow corn and now adding green zucchini to complete the colour wheel!
Shaved parmesan cheese: Tiny flakes of savoury parmesan cheese will give this side dish the finishing touches. It helps tie in all the different flavours.
Variations and Substitutions
Vegetables: I used tomato, zucchini and corn in this recipe because that is what I had in the fridge. However, you can try other combinations with pan fried gnocchi. I think pan fried gnocchi with spinach would be delicious, as well as red bell peppers, pumpkin, peas or broccoli.
What sauces for gnocchi: Pan fried gnocchi can hold up to a variety of sauces. The quintessential sauce for gnocchi is a brown butter sauce.
Alternatively, try a classic tomato sauce or even stir through a homemade pesto such as our Basil and Mint Pesto. If you are looking for something creamier but not too heavy, try our Crème Fraîche Dressing.
Vegan option: Check the ingredients in your store bought gnocchi to see if it includes eggs. Some gnocchi recipes use eggs, and some don’t. Switch the butter for olive oil and also omit the parmesan cheese for a vegan recipe.
Gluten free gnocchi: There are gluten free potato gnocchi options available which include switching out the wheat flour for gluten free flour.
Low carb variations: Traditional gnocchi is made with potatoes which may not suit low carb diets. Try seeking out alternatives like pumpkin gnocchi or cauliflower gnocchi, which may have lower carbs than potato gnocchi.
Follow these instructions on how to make Pan Fried Gnocchi:
Wash cherry tomatoes. I like to keep them whole so they can get charred when frying in the pan.
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and then thinly slice each half on a diagonal.
Next, remove corn kernels from the cob. To do this, I place the ear of corn lying flat on the chopping board. Then slice down the side of the corn to remove the kernels. Next, I rotate the cob, so the cut part is on the chopping board. Keep cutting and turning until all the kernels are cut off.
In a skillet or large frypan, add butter and melt over medium-high heat.
Add potato gnocchi and let them fry for about 2-3 minutes on one side until they start to crisp up. Then toss around and continue to fry until golden brown on both sides.
Remove pan fried gnocchi and set aside.
In the same skillet or large fry pan, add olive oil.
Place cherry tomatoes and fry for 2 -3 minutes or until slightly charred.
Drizzle balsamic vinegar over cherry tomatoes and let them absorb the vinegar.
Then add sliced zucchini and corn to the frypan and continue to sauté with tomatoes for another 2-3 minutes.
Once done, return pan fried gnocchi to the pan. Mix with sautéed vegetables.
Season with salt and pepper.
Remove pan fried gnocchi with tomato, corn and zucchini from the fry pan to a large serving plate.
Add grated parmesan cheese and serve.
How to Serve
Here are some main dishes that will go well with Pan Fried Gnocchi.
For a vegetarian feast, enjoy the pan fired gnocchi side dish with Mexican zucchini boats. The black beans and enchilada sauce is simply delicious!
If you’d like to make pizza at home, try this Prosciutto cauliflower crust pizza that has crispy edges and a delicate flavour. Honey balsamic sheet pan chicken is a family favourite that is perfect paired with a pasta side dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Generally, you do not need to pre-boil potato gnocchi before frying. However, if you have a dried version and not the fresh type, it might be worth boiling it first according to the package and then pan fry.
Yes, you can pan fry gnocchi from frozen. The heat from the pan should be enough to defrost and cook through the gnocchi. Again no need to par-boil beforehand.
If your potato gnocchi is dry and not wet, it generally should not stick. If you have boiled the potato gnocchi first, then pat dry the gnocchi before pan frying. Ensure your skillet or fry pan is hot and coated with butter. Let the gnocchi sit until it gets a crisp base, and then stir.
You can make pan fried gnocchi ahead of time and reheat on a pan just before serving. However, it can be served at room temperature too. I would add shaved parmesan cheese at the time of serving.
Each brand of gnocchi may vary, so best to follow the instructions on packaging. Generally speaking, boiling gnocchi takes about 2-4 minutes, and pan fried gnocchi will take 6-8 minutes.
Yes, of course! This pan fried recipe is based on store bought gnocchi. Using packaged gnocchi makes this a quick side dish. But, of course, you can make your own as well. I’ve never tried, so would be happy to see your favourite homemade gnocchi recipe!
For those looking for a delicious and satisfying vegetarian side dish, this is one to make. Golden brown pan fried gnocchi with colourful sweet vegetables is perfect for sharing with family and friends.
I just love how I can prepare this quick and easy side in advance and transport it to my next potluck dinner party.
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Pan Fried Gnocchi with Tomato, Corn and Zucchini
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- Wash cherry tomatoes.
- Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and then thinly slice on a diagonal.
- Slice corn kernels from corn cob.
- In a skillet or large fry pan, add butter and melt over medium-high heat.
- Add gnocchi and pan fry for about 6-8 minutes until golden brown on both sides. Remove pan fried gnocchi and set aside.
- In the same skillet or large fry pan, add olive oil.
- Place cherry tomatoes and fry for 2 -3 minutes or until slightly charred.
- Drizzle balsamic vinegar over cherry tomatoes and let them absorb the vinegar.
- Then add zucchini and corn to the fry pan and continue to sauté with tomatoes for another 2-3 minutes.
- Once done, return pan fried gnocchi to the pan.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove from the fry pan to a large plate.
- Add grated parmesan cheese to serve.
- Store bought gnocchi works perfectly fine for this recipe and makes it a quick side dish.
- There is no need to pre-boil gnocchi before frying the gnocchi. However, if you have a dried version and not the fresh type, it might be worth boiling it first according to the package and then pan fry.
- Substitute tomato, corn or zucchini with other vegetables if you don’t have these readily available. Try spinach, red bell peppers, pumpkin, peas or broccoli.
- For a vegan option, check the ingredients in your store bought gnocchi to see if it includes eggs. Some gnocchi recipes use eggs, and some don’t. Switch the butter for olive oil and also omit the parmesan cheese.
- There are gluten free gnocchi options available which include switching out the wheat flour for a gluten free flour.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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