Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pesto Gnocchi and Roasted Tomatoes

Well, as you can see, this is a rustic dish.  I did a little research to see if the term "gnocchi" really does entail those perfect little ridges that I didn't even attempt to create, and as it turns out, the answer is sadly "yes."  Wikipedia told me that the etymology of gnocchi might go back to translations of either "knot" or "knuckle," neither of which my gnocchi resemble. 

The more aptly-named (read "honest") post title would be "potato dumplings in the Italian style with pesto and roasted tomatoes."  However, my approach to all of these aesthetic technicalities is that people can go shove it if they complain about the imperfections of your scratch-made food. 

Speaking of the technicalities of food-naming, I recently began listening to The Sporkful, a food podcast, and the episode "The Existential Nature of Soup" and "Sausages" produced a philosophical conversation on exactly what constitutes soup and whether a hot dog is a sausage.  At best, these debates are entertaining banter and hardly change the fact that good food is good.  So call these gnocchi, or potato dumplings, or whatever you want.  They taste delicious. 

If you do let go of the idea that gnocchi have to be these perfect little ridgy footballs, then it is an awesome alternative to more intimidating and labor-intensive pastas (and it doesn't require a pasta machine). 

Gnocchi Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
  • 1.5 lbs. baby gold potatoes 
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 5 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten 
  • salt for seasoning
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
Roasted Tomatoes:
  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 large red onion, sliced
  • 5 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
Wash and boil the potatoes for about 30 minutes in a large pot of water, or until easily pieced with a fork.  Drain and rinse the potatoes under cold water, and then let cool until they can be handled easily.
While you boil your potatoes, you can toast your pine nuts in a small pot with just a touch of olive oil.  Over low heat, swirl them around until they are golden brown.  Add the pine nuts, along with the rest of the ingredients for the pesto, into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Then, quickly quarter your tomatoes, peel your garlic, and slice your onion.  Toss them in olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper and spread out on a baking pan.  Roast in the oven until browned, about 30 minutes, while you make the gnocchi dough.
When you potatoes are cooled enough to handle, peel them with a paring knife (the skin should peel away pretty easily).  You can either mash the potatoes until smooth, or use the food processor.  To the potatoes, add the ricotta, egg, flour, and seasoning.  Mix by hand and knead when the dough becomes less sticky.  Add any additional flour so that the dough does not stick to your hands.
Quarter the dough, and roll each piece into dowels (whatever thickness you desire, mine were about 3/4 inch).  Cut the dowels into 3/4 inch pieces and set on a floured surface.  
Cook the gnocchi in boiling water for just a few minutes until they float.  Drain with a slotted spoon and toss in the pesto before adding the roasted tomatoes.  You can freeze any remaining gnocchi and cook from frozen later.


  1. Replies
    1. hope yours turn out prettier than mine! good thing shape doesn't change the flavor.