Ultimate Gnocchi Alla Bava Guide: Cooking, Serving & Storage Tips

In the heart of Italy’s culinary landscape, nestled among the rolling hills and vibrant vineyards, lies a dish that captures the essence of comfort food—gnocchi alla bava. This delightful recipe is a testament to the simplicity and richness of Italian cuisine, combining pillowy gnocchi with a lusciously creamy cheese sauce that’ll have you swooning from the first bite.

We’ve always been fascinated by how a few simple ingredients can transform into a meal that feels like a warm hug. Gnocchi alla bava does just that. Originating from the Piedmont region, known for its exquisite dairy products, this dish showcases the perfect marriage of potato gnocchi and the irresistible bava, a sauce made from the finest local cheeses.

Join us as we dive into the world of gnocchi alla bava, where we’ll guide you through each step to creating this comforting classic at home. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a curious foodie, this recipe promises a journey to the heart of Italian comfort food, no passport required.


We’ve carefully selected and listed all the ingredients you’ll need to create your very own gnocchi alla bava at home. This recipe promises to transport you straight to the Piedmont region with every bite.

For the Gnocchi

  • 2 pounds of russet potatoes, about 4 large ones
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups of Fontina cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, a pinch for an extra layer of flavor
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional)

Required Tools and Equipment

To seamlessly create the inviting and sumptuous gnocchi alla bava, we’ll need a set of specific tools and equipment. These essentials will not only make the cooking process smoother but also ensure that our dish turns out just as delicious and inviting as the Piedmont original. Here’s what we’ll need:

  • Large Pot: For boiling the gnocchi, ensuring they’re cooked to perfection.
  • Skillet or Saucepan: Essential for preparing the creamy cheese sauce that distinguishes gnocchi alla bava. A medium size is ideal to accommodate the sauce ingredients.
  • Slotted Spoon: To safely extract the gnocchi from the boiling water without bringing along excess water.
  • Colander: Handy for draining the boiled gnocchi if you prefer this method over using a slotted spoon.
  • Wooden Spoon or Whisk: These will be our best allies in stirring the sauce, ensuring it’s smooth and evenly heated without sticking or burning.
  • Cheese Grater: Freshly grated cheese is a game-changer for our sauce, providing the melt-in-your-mouth texture and rich flavor.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Precision is key in cooking, so we’ll use these to measure both liquid and dry ingredients accurately.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: For preparing any garnishes or additional ingredients we decide to add, such as fresh herbs for a pop of color and flavor.
  • Ovenproof Dish: If you opt to broil the gnocchi alla bava briefly for a golden top, this will be necessary.

Gathering these tools before starting will ensure a smooth cooking process, allowing us to focus on the joy of cooking and the delicious meal we’re about to enjoy. With everything in place, let’s move forward to bring this comforting Italian dish to life in our kitchen.

Prep Work for Gnocchi alla Bava

Embarking on the journey of making gnocchi alla bava, we start with the all-important prep work. Let’s dive into the crafting of the dough and shape our gnocchi to perfection.

Making the Gnocchi Dough

  1. Measure Ingredients: First up, gather 2 pounds of russet potatoes, 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting, and 1 large egg. Ensuring all ingredients are measured accurately is key to a smooth dough.
  2. Cook the Potatoes: Wash the potatoes thoroughly and boil them in a large pot of salted water. Cook until they’re fork-tender, which typically takes about 20-25 minutes. Drain and let them cool just enough to handle.
  3. Peel and Mash: Peel the skins off the potatoes while they’re still warm. Using a potato ricer or masher, mash them into a smooth texture with no lumps. It’s essential for the gnocchi texture that the potatoes are mashed finely.
  4. Form the Dough: On a clean surface, spread the mashed potatoes in a mound and make a well in the center. Crack the egg into the well and sprinkle the flour around and over the potatoes. Using your fingers, start incorporating the flour and egg into the potatoes gently. Knead the mixture until it forms a smooth, pliable dough. Avoid over-kneading to prevent the gnocchi from becoming tough.

Shaping the Gnocchi

  1. Divide the Dough: Once your dough is ready, divide it into four equal parts. Take one part and keep the others covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying.
  2. Roll and Cut: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough piece into a long rope, about 3/4-inch in diameter. Using a sharp knife, cut the rope into 1-inch pieces. This size is ideal for gnocchi as it allows for a quick cook time and ensures each piece cooks evenly.
  3. Indentations: To give your gnocchi the classic ridges, gently press each piece against the tines of a fork or a gnocchi board if you have one. Roll it slightly to create the traditional indentations. These grooves are not just for aesthetics; they help hold more of that delicious creamy cheese sauce.
  4. Flour and Rest: After shaping, lightly dust the gnocchi with flour to prevent sticking and lay them out on a floured baking sheet. Let them rest for a few minutes while you work on the remaining dough.

Proceeding with these prep steps, we ensure our gnocchi alla bava will have the perfect texture and shape, ready to be bathed in the rich, creamy cheese sauce that makes this dish so irresistibly comforting.

Cooking the Gnocchi

With our gnocchi dough ready and resting, it’s time to turn these pillowy delights into the star of our gnocchi alla bava dish. Cooking gnocchi is a simple process, but timing is everything to achieve that melt-in-your-mouth perfection. Let’s dive into the steps to ensure our gnocchi comes out just right.

  1. Bring a Large Pot of Salted Water to a Boil: First up, set a large pot of water on high heat and bring it to a rolling boil. Add a generous pinch of salt. The salted water not only seasons the gnocchi but also helps to bring out the flavors of our creamy cheese sauce later on.
  2. Cook the Gnocchi in Batches: To avoid overcrowding and ensure even cooking, we’ll cook the gnocchi in batches. Gently lower about a quarter of the gnocchi into the boiling water. It’s crucial not to stir them immediately to prevent them from sticking together or breaking apart.
  3. Wait for the Gnocchi to Float: This is where the magic happens. After a couple of minutes, the gnocchi will start to float to the surface of the water. This is a telltale sign that they are cooked through and ready. The floating is a beautiful sight – it means our little dumplings are light, airy, and poised for perfection.
  4. Retrieve and Drain: Using a slotted spoon, carefully lift the floating gnocchi out of the water and transfer them into a colander or onto a clean kitchen towel to drain. Be gentle to keep their shape intact. This step ensures that our gnocchi aren’t waterlogged, maintaining their ideal texture.
  5. Keep Warm Until Serving: As we continue cooking the remaining batches, it’s important to keep the already cooked gnocchi warm. A covered dish in a slightly warmed oven works perfectly for this. It prevents them from sticking together and ensures they receive the cheese sauce at just the right temperature.
  6. Toss With A Bit of Olive Oil (Optional): If you find your gnocchi starting to stick together while waiting for the cheese sauce, a light drizzle of olive oil can work wonders. Just toss them gently to coat. This step not only keeps them from sticking but also adds a subtle richness that complements the creamy sauce.

Preparing the Sauce

Now that we’ve mastered making the perfect gnocchi, let’s turn our attention to the heart of gnocchi alla bava – the creamy cheese sauce. This sauce is what brings the dish together, coating each gnocchi pillow in a velvety layer of flavor.

Melting the Cheese

Before we start, make sure you have the following ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups of grated Fontina cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, slowly pour in the heavy cream, stirring constantly to combine the butter and cream smoothly. Reduce the heat to low, allowing the mixture to gently simmer. Gradually add the grated Fontina cheese to the saucepan, stirring continuously. The low heat is crucial here; it ensures the cheese melts into the cream without separating or becoming grainy. Continue stirring until you achieve a homogeneous and smooth sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Keep the sauce warm on the lowest setting while you prepare to combine it with the gnocchi.

Combining the Ingredients

With the sauce ready and the gnocchi cooked and waiting, it’s time to bring everything together:

  • Prepared gnocchi
  • Prepared cheese sauce
  • Extra grated Fontina cheese for garnish (optional)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish (optional)

Gently fold the cooked gnocchi into the cheese sauce, ensuring each piece is evenly coated. If the sauce seems too thick, you can thin it slightly with a tablespoon of the gnocchi cooking water. This step not only ensures the perfect consistency but also adds another layer of flavor to the sauce. Once the gnocchi are beautifully coated with the creamy cheese sauce, transfer the dish to a serving platter. Sprinkle with extra grated Fontina cheese and freshly chopped parsley for a touch of color and freshness. Serve immediately, and watch as this dish becomes an instant favorite.

Assembling Gnocchi alla Bava

After carefully cooking the gnocchi and crafting a silky cheese sauce, it’s time to bring this comforting Piedmontese dish together. Here, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to assemble gnocchi alla bava, ensuring each bite captures the heartwarming richness and simplicity the dish is celebrated for.

Preparing the Serving Dish

First, we’ll start by warming the serving dishes. This helps maintain the temperature of the gnocchi alla bava, keeping it piping hot from the kitchen to the table. Simply fill them with hot water for a few minutes, then dry them thoroughly before plating.

Combining Gnocchi and Sauce

Next, in a large pan, combine the freshly drained gnocchi with the creamy cheese sauce over low heat. Gently stir to ensure each gnocchi is evenly coated with the velvety sauce. The low heat is crucial here to meld the flavors without causing the cheese sauce to split or the gnocchi to become mushy.

Adjusting Consistency and Seasoning

As we combine the gnocchi with the sauce, we’ll pay close attention to the consistency. If the sauce seems too thick, a splash of the reserved gnocchi cooking water can be added to reach the desired silkiness. This is also the perfect time to taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a touch more salt or pepper as needed.

Plating with Garnish

Now for the final touches. We carefully plate the gnocchi alla bava, ensuring a generous amount of sauce with each serving. To elevate the dish further, we sprinkle additional grated Fontina cheese over the top for an extra layer of cheesy goodness. A sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley not only adds a burst of color but also a fresh, herbal contrast to the rich flavors.

Serving Immediately

Gnocchi alla bava is best enjoyed immediately, while it’s warm and the cheese is at its melty, stretchy best. We recommend serving it straight from the stove to the table, ensuring every bite is as delightful as intended.

Following these steps, we ensure that our gnocchi alla bava not only embodies the comforting essence of Piedmontese cuisine but also presents beautifully, promising a delicious and heartwarming meal.

Serving Suggestions

After perfecting the preparation of gnocchi alla bava, ensuring each pillow-like gnocco is generously coated in that irresistible creamy cheese sauce, the focus shifts to serving this Piedmontese delight in a manner that elevates the dining experience. Here, we share our top suggestions for serving gnocchi alla bava, promising to transform a simple meal into a feast for the senses.

Pair with the Perfect Wine

A dish as rich and comforting as gnocchi alla bava deserves to be accompanied by a wine that complements its flavors. We recommend a light, dry white wine such as Gavi or Arneis from the Piedmont region. These wines offer a crispness that beautifully balances the creaminess of the cheese sauce, enhancing the dish’s overall taste profile.

Accompany with a Fresh Salad

To add a touch of freshness and contrast to the meal, serve your gnocchi alla bava alongside a simple green salad. A mix of arugula, baby spinach, and a sprinkle of walnuts, dressed with a light vinaigrette, offers a refreshing bite that cleanses the palate between mouthfuls of the rich gnocchi.

Offer Rustic Bread

There’s nothing quite like a piece of crusty, rustic bread to accompany a saucy dish. Serve your gnocchi alla bava with slices of freshly baked bread. It’s not only a delightful addition to the table but also practical for sopping up any remaining cheese sauce, ensuring not a drop of that liquid gold goes to waste.

Garnish Creatively

A sprinkle of finely chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or basil over the plated gnocchi alla bava can add a pop of color and a hint of freshness to the dish. Additionally, offering a small bowl of freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the side allows guests to adjust the cheesiness to their liking, making the meal even more enjoyable.

The pairing of wine, the contrast of a fresh salad, the practicality of rustic bread, and the final touches of garnish elevate the gnocchi alla bava from a simple meal to an unforgettable dining event.

Make-Ahead and Storage Tips

In the bustling rhythm of daily life, finding ways to simplify meal preparation can be a game-changer. That’s why we’re diving into make-ahead and storage tips for gnocchi alla bava, ensuring you can enjoy this delightful dish even on your busiest days.

Preparing Gnocchi in Advance

Gnocchi boasts the wonderful perk of being freezable, which makes them perfect for prepping ahead of time. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Spread the freshly made, uncooked gnocchi in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure they’re not touching, to prevent them from sticking together.
  2. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about two hours or until the gnocchi are firm.
  3. Once firm, transfer the gnocchi to a freezer-safe bag or container. They can be stored in the freezer for up to two months.

By freezing them this way, you can cook the gnocchi straight from the freezer, adding just a minute or two to the boiling time.

Storing Leftover Gnocchi Alla Bava

Leftovers can be just as satisfying if stored and reheated properly. Here’s what to do:

  1. Allow any leftover gnocchi alla bava to cool down to room temperature.
  2. Transfer the cooled dish into airtight containers.
  3. Refrigerate and consume within two days for the best quality.

For reheating, gently warm the leftover gnocchi in a saucepan over low heat. If the sauce has thickened too much, adding a splash of milk or water can help to bring back the creamy consistency. However, keep in mind that gnocchi are best enjoyed fresh, so we recommend only making as much as you anticipate eating in a session or two.


We’ve walked through the delightful journey of making and savoring gnocchi alla bava, a dish that’s as comforting as it is rich in flavor. It’s clear that with the right pairings and a little bit of planning, this Piedmontese classic can transform any meal into a special occasion. Whether you’re prepping ahead for a busy week or looking to impress dinner guests, the tips we’ve shared make it easy to bring a taste of Italy to your table. So let’s embrace the simplicity and elegance of gnocchi alla bava, and make it a staple in our culinary adventures. Here’s to many more meals that are as enjoyable to prepare as they are to eat. Cheers!

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