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Gnocchetti di Pane: A Savory Journey into Italian Comfort Food

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Don't throw away your day-old bread. Make this simple and delicious Gnocchetti di Pane. The are a wonderful alternative to the traditional potato gnocchi.

What are Gnocchetti di Pane?

Gnocchetti di Pane, often referred to as "bread dumplings," are a beloved Italian dish hailing from the northern regions, particularly Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. These delightful morsels are made from a simple combination of stale bread, milk, eggs, and Parmesan cheese. They are shaped into small, round dumplings and gently simmered in either a flavoured broth or sauce, resulting in a comforting and rustic dish that warms the soul.

Gnocchetti di Pane, the lesser-known Italian delight, is a dish that exudes comfort and tradition. These small, pillow-like dumplings are made from stale bread and are a testament to the resourcefulness of Italian cuisine.
Gnocchetti di Pane (Bread Gnocchi)

The History Behind Gnocchetti di Pane

Gnocchetti di Pane has a fascinating history dating back to when resourcefulness was key in the kitchen. The dish emerged as a solution to the problem of using stale bread, preventing the waste in time when food was not to be squandered. Over time, it became a beloved part of Italian culinary tradition, showcasing the ingenuity of Italian cooks. This is something that my Nonna Rosa has taught me over the years. Never throw away anything!

Gnocchetti di Pane (Bread Gnocchi) is a simple technique similar to potato gnocchi.  Day-old bread is used in replace of potatoes.
Making of Gnocchetti di Pane (Bread Gnocchi)

Why You'll Love Gnocchetti di Pane

Gnocchetti di Pane may be humble in origin, but they are rich in flavour and heartiness. Here are some reasons why you'll love this dish:

  1. Comfort Food: The warm soft dumplings make Gnocchetti di Pane the ultimate comfort food, perfect for chilly evenings.

  2. Budget-Friendly: Using stale bread reduces food waste, making this a budget-friendly and eco-conscious choice.

  3. Versatile: You can customise Gnocchetti di Pane by adding herbs or vegetables to the dough or varying the broth for different flavours.

  4. Italian Tradition: Embrace the history and traditions of Italian cuisine through this lesser-known classic.

Making gnocchi is so simple and a great way to get the whole family involved.


Gnocchetti di Pane (Bread Gnocchi)

Serves 6

Gnocchetti di Pane, the lesser-known Italian delight, is a dish that exudes comfort and tradition. These small, pillow-like dumplings are made from stale bread and are a testament to the resourcefulness of Italian cuisine.
Gnocchetti di Pane (Bread Gnocchi)


Ingredients For the Gnocchetti di Pane

  • 350g day-old sourdough bread

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1 1/2 cups of grated parmesan cheese + extra for serving

  • 80g flour + extra for dusting

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients of the Sauce for the Gnocchetti di Pane

  • 1 x 400g tin crushed tomatoes

  • 1 tbsp tomato paste

  • 2 whole cloves garlic

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • Handful of fresh basil leaves

  • Salt and pepper to taste


Tear the stale bread into small pieces and place them into a food processor. Blitz until the bread turns into a fine crumb. Once all the bread is blitzed, then transfer to a large bowl to rehydrate. Pour over the milk and allow to soak for 10 minutes until the bread becomes soft and pliable.

To the milk-soaked bread add flour, cheese, salt and pepper and use your hands to mix well. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and begin to roll out the dough until it becomes soft.

Using a clean knife or pasta cutting, cut the dough into four equal pieces. Set one aside and cover the remaining with a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out. Roll out the dough with your hands into the shape of a log, roughly about 2 cm/1 inch in diameter. Cut the log into 2 cm/1-inch pieces and roll them into balls and place them onto a lightly floured tray. Repeat the process until all the dough has been used. This amount should make roughly 1kg of Gnocchetti. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm. This will help the Gnocchetti to retain their shape during the cooking process.

To make a simple and delicious sauce for these Gnocchetti, to a saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until it has melted into the oil. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes over low heat until the sauce has thickened.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt and add the Gnocchetti. Cook the Gnocchetti in batches to prevent them from sticking to one another. The Gnocchetti will be ready once they rise to the surface, roughly 2 to 3 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on another clean tray or plate. Once all the Gnocchetti are cooked, add them to the simmering sauce. Gently toss the Gnocchetti in the sauce, carefully stirring with a spoon.

Serve Gnocchetti di Pane immediately with lots of extra grated parmigiano cheese.

Buon Appetito!


Gnocchetti di Pane is a hidden gem of Italian cuisine, showcasing the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Italian kitchen. Remember, the next time you have some stale bread on hand, don't toss it away; turn it into Gnocchetti di Pane for a delicious and soul-satisfying meal.

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