Saffron Spelt Gnocchi

saffron spelt gnocchi

We adapted these saffron spelt gnocchi from a traditional Sardinian dumpling made from semolina flour flavored with saffron called malreddus. Traditionally, saffron was cheaper in Sardinia than eggs, so they used it to give the dumplings a nice golden color and the flavor of saffron.

We enjoyed ours tossed in a tomato sauce enriched with butter. They would also go well with a meat ragu. Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese is appropriate.

Saffron Spelt Gnocchi

saffron spelt gnocchi Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook time: 3 minutes
5-10 servings



  • 400 g/1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 795 g/4 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp white spelt flour, plus more as needed and for dusting
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Boil the water. Put the saffron in a small bowl, pour boiling water over, and let the saffron steep for 10 minutes
  2. Combine the white spelt flour, salt, and olive oil in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook
  3. Strain the saffron water through a fine-mesh strainer placed over the large bowl. Press the saffron threads with your fingers to extract as much flavor as possible, then discard them.
  4. Knead by hand or in the stand mixer on medium speed until the dough comes together and is very smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest for an hour at room temperature.
  5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; dust well with more white spelt flour
  6. If the dough is at all sticky, knead in more white spelt flour 1 tsp at a time
  7. making gnocchi
  8. Put some white spelt flour on a plate. Cut off a chunk of dough about the width of two fingers with a knife or a bench scraper. Rewrap the rest to keep it from drying out. Coat the chunk by lightly rolling it in the white spelt flour on the plate. Roll it into a log about 1/ 4 in (6 mm) in diameter with your hands on an unfloured work surface. Cut the log into 1/ 2-in (12-mm) pieces.
  9. saffron gnocchi
  10. Lightly press each piece against a gnocchi board or the back of a fork with the side of your thumb. Curl the dough slightly around your thumb so the smooth side is indented a bit. Lay each piece ridged side up on the floured parchment paper. Make sure they don’t touch so they don’t stick together. Repeat until you’ve used all the dough.


  • If you don’t want to cook the dumplings immediately, cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Or freeze some or all of them on the baking sheets and transfer to an airtight container once they’re frozen. Use within 1 month. You don’t need to thaw them before cooking.


  • Generously salt a large pot of water and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Put the saffron spelt gnocchi in and simmer until they float to the surface, 1 to 3 minutes. Keep simmering them for 1 to 2 minutes more, until slightly al dente, then scoop them out right away with a slotted spoon or pasta scoop and toss them with whatever sauce you’re using. Serve immediately, passing parmesan or pecorino romano cheese.

Adapted from Pasta by Hand: A Collection of Italy’s Regional Hand-Shaped Pasta, by Jenn Louis

Author: Daniel Lieberman

Daniel Lieberman is a cook and writer living in the hills of Western Massachusetts. When he's not cooking he listens to opera and reads a lot.

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