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Italian: Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce April 13, 2012

Filed under: Dinner,Italian,Recipes — multiculturalfamilyrecipes @ 4:12 pm



For Gnocchi

  • 2lbs whole baking potatoes
  • 2 beaten egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • Pinch of salt

For Pesto Sauce:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves (minced)
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash potatoes and dry with paper towel. Pierce each potato multiple times with a fork around each potato to vent so they don’t explode. Bake the potatoes for about an hour until their skins are tender. Let cool on a rack by cutting them open to let the moisture escape.
  2. Scoop potatoes from their skins. Place potato in a potato ricer and press each through into a large bowl. (or mash them by hand and fluff with a fork.) Do this process while potatoes are still warm, but cool enough to handle.
  3. Add flour, egg and a pinch of salt to the large bowl. Mix by hand into a big ball of dough. Do not overmix.
  4. Prepare a work area and dust with flour. Take the dough, one large piece at a time, and roll it out gently with your hands until you have rolls about 3/4 inch in diameter. Keep it light, do not make it too dense. Use a light pressure and roll the dough away from you.
  5. Cut the rolls of dough into pieces about an inch long. They should look like little pillows. Use your fingertip to poke a small indent into each piece. As you make them, place them on a flat baking pan that is lined with wax paper. You can freeze the extra to save for another day by putting saran wrap. Once frozen, they can be placed in a ziplock freezer bag for easier storage.
  6. Once the gnocchi is made, it would be time to start making the pesto (or any sauce you wish to use for this recipe, pesto is not mandatory). For the Pesto sauce, you would first need to combine the basil and pine nuts into a food processor. Pulse in food processor a few times. Add garlic and pulse a few more times.
  7. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop and scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula, add the grated cheese, and pulse until blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. For this meal, bring at least 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add salt and gently drop a few gnocchi at a time to the water. When most have risen to the surface, remove them a few at a time with a slotted spoon, draining well. Place on a warm serving dish and pour fresh (or jarred) sauce on top and serve hot. Use salt, pepper and parmesan cheese to taste.


Potato Gnocchi is a classic Italian recipe coming from the Tuscany region. I learned how to make this dish while studying abroad in Florence, and my family confirmed that this was the same recipe they use as well. For this dish, my family usually serves with the Italian meat sauce, but Pesto is a delicious alternative. The pesto used in this recipe can be used for virtually any pesto dish you can think to make. As always, you can use store bought gnocchi or pesto to make either part of this dish.


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