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From the Kitchen: Pesto Gnocchi

March 31, 2011

It’s always nice to try a recipe that you’ve never made before and have it come out well on the first try. I made fresh gnocchi and pesto on Sunday for dinner and it was wonderful. The gnocchi had a perfect balance of pillowy firmness and the pesto was a harmonious combination of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil. All of the right notes were hit and our tummies were left warm and happy. I used my favorite cookbook, The Joy of Cooking to reference a basic gnocchi recipe and Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis for the fresh pesto sauce.

Potato Gnocchi (Recipe from The Joy of Cooking)- Makes about 80 gnocchi/Serves 4-6

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Scrub 2 lbs. of baking potatoes well. Prick each potato in a dozen places with a fork. Bake directly on an oven rack until easily pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. While potatoes are still hot, split them lengthwise and scoop out the pulp. Push it through a potato ricer or force through a sieve with the back of a spoon. There should be about 2 2/3 packed cups. Combine potatoes in a bowl with:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flours

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Stir vigorously, then turn out onto a work surface and knead until smooth and blended. Bring 3 to 4 inches of well-salted water to a simmer in a large pot. Have ready:

3 tablespoons olive oil

Roll about 2 tablespoons of the dough into a cylinder 3/4 inch wide. Cut into pieces 3/4 inch long. Roll each piece against the tines of a fork while pressing a small dent on the opposite side with your finger. Drop the gnocchi into simmering water and cook until they float, about 2 minutes. They should hold a firm shape and be chewy to the bite. if they turn out slimy and soft, knead into the dough:

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Then test again. When the dough is right, roll it into 3 or 4 ropes 3/4 inch wide, cut the ropes into 3/4 inch pieces, and form the pieces as gnocchi. Drop one-third to one-half of the gnocchi into the pot and simmer, uncovered until they float, then remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer to a wide bowl. Drizzle some the olive oil over the gnocchi. Toss to coat. Repeat until all the gnocchi are done. Serve at once with pesto sauce.

Basil Pesto (from Everyday Italian)

Into the bowl of a food processor, add 1 garlic, 2 cups packed basil leaves, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pulse until finely chopped. With the blender still running, slowly pour 1/3 cup of olive oil. Check for a thick, yet smooth consistency, adding more oil if necessary. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan.

After the success of this meal, I’m curious to try different types of potato gnocchi, mainly sweet potato, so you might see another gnocchi post soon. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. xoxo!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2011 11:29 am

    Gnocchi is my absolute favorite Italian dish (well, starch based). I have always been intimidated by it worrying that my hand will be a little too firm for the little pillows of potato. I guess I’ll try it out! Any lessons learned?

    • March 31, 2011 12:02 pm

      Hi Carmel,
      I have to admit, I was very nervous that my gnocchi endeavour would turn out to be just an experiment. My “win some, lose some” attitude was in full effect. But, I followed the recipe exactly and to our elated surprise, they were as good as any gnocchi I have ever had. I did end up adding the extra 3 tablespoons of flour to my potato dough after the first “test” boil because I found the gnocchi on the slimy side. From there on out, it was pretty much smooth sailing. I will say this, the gnocchi without any sauce do not have much flavor so don’t be discouraged when tasting the gnocchi alone, it will all come together at the end. The Joy of Cooking provided a very in depth step-by-step but if you don’t own a copy, I’m sure you’ll find an equally helpful recipe somewhere on the internet. Good luck! I’d love to know how it goes for you!

  2. March 31, 2011 12:54 pm

    Hi, I tried making gnocchi once. They turned out to be so hard that I could smash a window with them. I didn’t try to feed my children with them :)

    • March 31, 2011 1:27 pm

      Oh, Surrey gal, that’s just too funny! I hope you give them another shot. While my kitchen was destroyed in the process (my fault completely), I found gnocchi pretty easy and low maintenance to make.

  3. melinda permalink
    April 7, 2011 8:51 pm

    looks sooo yummy!!

    is giada’s cookbook good? I use the Joy of Cooking often- such a great gift! thank you!! I used it 2x today. Teryaki Marinade and Bloody Mary’s. Yes, a bit oof a weird combo, I know =)

    • April 7, 2011 11:28 pm

      This was the first time I used the Giada cookbook. The pesto was awesome so… so far so good! I need a bloody mary right now!…I’m literally in bed, btw.

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