When you’re writing a novel where Italian food plays a starring role, let’s just say the “research” is pretty fun.

To wit, I took a class in making homemade gnocchi last week, and it was not only lots of fun and easier than I thought, but incredibly delicious.

And while my group’s work (see left) probably wouldn’t pass muster with an Italian grandmother or win any awards for their inherent beauty (my contributions included a couple of the ones that looked like Frosted Mini Wheats, while the others resembled a chrysalis rather than the “football” shape we were aiming for), they were perfectly plump and pillow-y good when we paired them with three different sauces we whipped up (brown butter and sage, tomato and pancetta and Gorgonzola and walnut, respectively).

Yes, in case you were wondering, gnocchi with three different sauces makes a pretty fantastic lunch, and I’m looking forward to ricing a few Yukon golds on my own at home in the not-so-distant future. Maybe I can even get the gnocchi shape right this time around, fingers crossed, anyway.