Search This Blog

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gnocchi with Mustard Greens Pesto

By Mango.

You know how there are certain foods that don't taste like much, but the texture more than makes up for it? To me, gnocchi is one of those foods. By itself, it doesn't have a whole lot of flavor going on (unless you add a little nutmeg, then you'll want to eat it like popcorn), but its soft, pillow-y feel in your mouth just leaves you wanting more. And you can dress it up with any kind of pasta sauce, or even a thick curry, if you want to try fusion. I went with a quick and easy pesto. I like to use mustard greens in my pesto. It's a nice, tasty way to sneak in raw greens, and there's enough bite and color to bring vibrance and freshness to an otherwise heavy pasta dish.

Gnocchi ingredients.
Here's what you will need for the gnocchi; this should make enough for 4 people.

3 Russet potatoes, baked and peeled (I baked these whole, with skin, in a 425 degree oven until done. I've seen recipes that boil the potatoes too, but I've read that baked potatoes give a better flavor and texture to the end product)
3 egg yolks
1 cup of all-purpose flour
Half teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, about a quarter teaspoon
Quarter teaspoon nutmeg. (freshly ground would be better, but I didn't have any at hand)
A block of good Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which should be grated to yield a half cup of cheese.

The first thing that you don't want to do with the potatoes is mash them. The less squeezing and smashing, the more light and non-rubbery your gnocchi will be. So what you want to do is grate them using the large holes on a box grater. 

Grated baked potatoes. 
Once you have grated all the potatoes, make a little well in the middle of the potato mound and add the egg yolks, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and grated cheese.

 Use your fingers to gently mix everything together (no smashing!). Then, sprinkle about half of the flour onto the mound, and fold the potato mixture over itself two times to gently mix in the flour. Continue sprinkling the rest of the flour in, gently folding once or twice in between flour additions to bring it all together. You do not want to knead it or overdo the folding. It's very similar to making biscuits, where the less you bother with it, the better it will be. 

Gnocchi dough.

The dough will look uneven and messy, but that's okay. Now comes the fun part! Cut the dough into 4 pieces, and gently roll each piece into cylindrical shape, about a half inch in diameter. This part reminded me of kindergarten, when we were handed balls of plasticine and it was the best thing ever, which also somehow managed to occupy a solid 6 hours of my day.

(Panda: Plasticine? 
Mango: You know, that thing kids play with? 
Panda: ......
Mango: *making squeezing gesture with hands*
Panda: ...Playdough?
Mango: Yes! Playdough! That's what your people call it.)

Roll it out...

..and then cut into half inch pieces.

You can roll each gnocchi piece over the back of a fork to give it shape. The indents caused by the fork will also help the gnocchi pick up more pesto. 

Plop the gnocchi into simmering salted water. They will sink to the bottom but when done will float to the top!

And that's gnocchi! For the pesto, here are ingredients that I use:

One bunch of mustard greens (so green!), juice from half a lemon, a small bunch of basil leaves (20-30 leaves), a half cup of pine nuts (I've used hazelnuts too, quite delicious!), olive oil (in squeeze bottle), salt, pepper. Oh, and a heaped quarter cup of grated parmesan cheese which I forgot (as usual) to picture here. 

Blend away! Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. 
I over-blended :-(  I usually like it a little more textured, but it was still delicious!
Toss the gnocchi in the pesto and begin the nomnoms!


  1. I love gnocchi. Excellent technique baking the taters instead of boiling. That concentrates the potato flavor.

    I didn't see olive oil in your pesto?

    1. Thanks! The olive oil is in the squeezy bottle next to the pepper mill. Not easy to spot though, so thanks for pointing it out! I will add a comment to the pic.