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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Sarmiento

Gnocchi with Pancetta, Shallots and Sage

A fresh and flavorful take on a centuries-old dish.

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

My paternal grandmother‘s family hailed from Florence, Italy, so naturally the love for all things Italian, especially food, was engraved in my upbringing.

Of the many wonderful memories I have of my late Nonna (Italian for grandmother), the one that stands out the most was how through food, she always gathered la famiglia.

(Instagram photo: blogsognoitaliano)

One particular tradition, which is actually celebrated throughout Italy and Latin America (where many Italian immigrants made their new home) was having gnocchi for dinner every 29th of the month and right before eating, place whatever money you had on you, under your plate.

This ancient custom was meant to bring prosperity. Its legendary origins date back to the 8th century where in Nicosia (Greater Asia), a young doctor named Pantaleon who had converted to Christianity, went on a pilgrimage through northern Italy, performing miraculous healings.

(Instagram photo: blogsognoitaliano)

On the 29th of an unknown month, he arrived at a small village, hungry. A poor, elderly peasant couple invited Pantaleon to their humble home and shared the only thing they had with him...gnocchi.

When the meal was over, Pantaleon thanked the couple and told them that they would have a year of excellent harvest and abundance of fishing. Unbeknownst to the couple, Pantaleon also left them gold coins under their plates.

Soon after, the village reaped in their best harvest and great fishing. Pantaleon was later consecrated as St. Pantaleon co-Patron Saint of Venice. The tradition of the 29th, gnocchi, and money under the plates continue still.

(Instagram photo: blogsognoitaliano)

Now, the question many of you might be asking yourselves, what is gnocchi?

Gnocchi (pronounced N-Y-OH-KEE) is a type of pasta alternative, similar to dumplings but smaller, and are most commonly made out of potatoes. They also have numerous variation in recipes and names across the various regions in Italy.

The word gnocchi is derived from the Italian word nocchio, meaning a knot in wood, or from nocca, meaning knuckle. It has been a traditional type of Italian pasta type dish since ancient Roman times.

(Instagram photo: blogsognoitaliano)

This particular recipe is in the style of Tuscan regional cuisine featuring simple, yet bold ingredients.

Andiamo a cucinare! Let’s get cooking!


Gnocchi with pancetta, shallots and sage

Wine pairing:

2019 La Fiera Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC (Abruzzo, Italy)

Serves 2-3


  • 1/4 cup of extra Virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 lb of pancetta, cut in small cubes

  • 1/3 cup of white wine

  • 2 large shallot, finely minced

  • 1/4 cup of fresh sage, torn by hand in small pieces

  • 1/4 cup of fresh baby Roma tomatoes, cut in quarters, lengthwise, seeded

  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • Sea salt & cracked black pepper


  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderately low heat until most of the fat has rendered and the pancetta is golden, about 10 minutes.

  • Add the wine and simmer over moderately high heat until evaporated, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a bowl. Pour the fat off and return the skillet to the stove.

  • Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Add the shallots and sage leaves and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent, about 8 minutes.

  • Stir in the tomatoes and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.

  • Add the pancetta and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and cook per package instructions.

  • Drain the gnocchi. Stir gnocchi in the pan with the shallot-and-pancetta mixture. Season lightly with salt and pepper, gently mix well.

Serve it up!

On individual plates, serve a generous heap of gnocchi, spooning some of the pancetta mixture on top and dusting lightly with cheese.

Mangia bene! Enjoy!

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

About the wine...

Special thanks to my friends at Winesellers Ltd. for their wonderful contribution of this Sangiovese.

To pair this piquant dish, I am opting for a wine from the Abruzzo region that possesses powerful fruit and sweet spice flavors.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo has earned a reputation as one of the most widely exported DOC wines in Italy. It is typically dry with soft tannins and often consumed young.

2019 La Fiera Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC (Abruzzo, Italy)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Ruby-red with violet highlights. Medium-full bodied red wine with notes of violets and crushed red fruits on the nose.

On the palate, the wine is juicy and soft with more red & blue fruit flavors, soft tannins, and a pleasant finish.

Grapes: 100% Montepulciano

Food pairing: Tomato-based pastas, spicy sausages and pizza.

For more information, visit:

Decorative wine drip collar by:

(Special discount promo code: CFW15)

(Instagram photo: blogsognoitaliano)

263 views4 comments


Feb 24, 2021

I love the story of Pantaleon and the gold coins under the plates! And your gnocchi look delicious - your Nonna would be proud.

Carlos Sarmiento
Carlos Sarmiento
Feb 24, 2021
Replying to

Grazie bella! That means the world to me. Fascinating story to research things when coming up with ideas for nonna happened to inspire me this time 😊


Feb 24, 2021

Not only your recipes are just fabulous, but the photography and your articles transport us in this journey of fine and peaceful times! Thank you!!

Carlos Sarmiento
Carlos Sarmiento
Feb 24, 2021
Replying to

Thank you so much! 🙏 That means a lot to me...that’s is my goal 😊

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