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Backcountry Gourmet: Italian Gnocchi Pasta

Cooking gourmet in the backcountry is equal parts creativity, and science. We live in an age where we don’t have to simply eat freeze dried foods or rice and beans every meal. There are so many options and ways to make your backcountry cooking experience not only one of efficiency, but a delight.

Last summer, one of our staff brought a new recipe to the attention of the instructor pool. Gnocchi pasta!



Gnocchi are a small, potato and flour style dumpling pasta that are super filling and delicious. The word Gnocchi is thought to come from nocca, which means knuckles or from the Lombard word knohha,  which means knot -like a wood knot or walnut. Many ingredients were used to make these small dumplings mostly in the northern part of Italy. But it wasn’t until the 16th century that potatoes were brought back with Spanish explorers from South America that they were added to this dumpling pasta.

Here is the recipe for backcountry Gnocchi so you too can enjoy this gourmet dish!

Backcountry Gnocchi


1 c potato flakes

1 c flour/baking mix

1 T olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

At least 1 c water to mix (possibly more)

spices of choice

Dried tomato powder or Pesto packet (follow directions on packet)

Parmesan cheese or Mozzarella


In a medium bowl, mix together potato flakes, salt, flour, and any spices you want to add to the batter. Garlic, rosemary, or oregano are good choices. Then add the oil  and slowly add water to the dry mix. Keep slowly adding water until you have a slightly sticky dough enough to make small balls with. If dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour. Once dough is ready, roll into small dumplings with your hands and set aside.

In a large pot, boil water. Add rolled gnocchi to the boiled water and cook until gnocchi are floating on the top of the water. Once all the gnocchi are floating, remove from the water. If making a marinara sauce, use boiled water to make your pasta sauce. Add spices to taste.By using the “gray” water for the sauce, you are able to reduce waste and practice good Leave No Trace ethics in the backcountry.  If making pesto, follow the directions on the pesto packet.

Place cooked Gnocchi in each person’s bowl and add the sauce. Sprinkle Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese on top of the pasta and sauce. Serve hot and enjoy!!