Gnocchi has always been one of my favorite foods, and although I prefer to make ricotta gnocchi at home for ease of preparation and lightness, I love any well-made gnocchi. I decided to tackle potato gnocchi a couple of weeks ago and wanted to use beets to color and flavor my gnocchi. I first tried to roast my beets and then puree them. To create a light gnocchi, it is important to use as little flour as possible and to handle the gnocchi lightly. To ensure that adding the beet puree to my potato mixture wasn’t making my mixture too wet, I placed the pureed beets in a fine sieve in the sink for an hour and drained off as much liquid as possible. I went ahead and made my gnocchi, but the result was just too soft and wasn’t the perfect gnocchi I had been dreamt of.
Later that week I was making a veggie burger using vegetable pulp leftover from juicing and had an epiphany. The pulp from juiced beets is obviously pretty dry already, but the veggie burger recipe required that you placed the beet pulp on a baking sheet and then dried it in a low-temperature oven. This created a very dry beet pulp that worked well in the burger, and I knew it was perfect for my gnocchi. If you do not have a juicer, your alternative would be to grate the beets, and then pat the grated beets with paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible, then follow the directions to dry the beets in the oven. Russet potatoes are my favorite potatoes to use for gnocchi and I prefer to bake my potatoes rather than boil them which keeps the pulp dry creating a lighter gnocchi.
My second attempt at making beet gnocchi worked out perfectly and I ended up with a gorgeous colored gnocchi that was very light and tender. Once I had my gnocchi completed, I needed a sauce, and couldn’t help but imagine how a green pesto sauce would look tossed with this gnocchi. I chose kale as my primary green for my pesto because I thought it would play off the earthiness of the beets well. Although I have made a variety of different types of pesto over the years, I have never tried using kale but it was delicious with this beet gnocchi. The pesto had a fresh, vibrant flavor and would be just as wonderful tossed with just about any type of hot cooked pasta. If you are new to making gnocchi, you may find my tutorial How To Make Potato Gnocchi helpful to review.
Used In This Recipe:
Bellemain Stainless Steel Potato Ricer with 3 Interchangeable Discs
Calphalon Classic Stainless Steel 8 quart Stock Pot with Steamer and Pasta Insert
Zyliss Classic Rotary Cheese Grater
Deborah Mele 2015
- Pulp Leftover From Juicing 2 Medium Sized Beets - About 1 Cup Beet Pulp (No Juicer? See Notes Above)
- 2 Pounds Russet Potatoes, Scrubbed
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 2/3 Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese
- 1 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour Plus Extra
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Cups Chopped Kale
- 1 Garlic Clove
- 1/2 Cup Walnuts
- 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese
- 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
- 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread the beet pulp over a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, turning it over two or three times until dry but not browned.
- Cool the beet pulp.
- Turn the oven up to 375 degrees F. and bake the potatoes until they are fork tender, about 40 minutes.
- Cool the potatoes until they are just warm.
- Use a spoon to scoop out the potato pulp, and push the mixture through a potato ricer and into a bowl.
- Add the beet pulp, egg yolks, grated cheese, 1 cup of flour, and salt.
- Stir together the mixture, and as soon as it comes together, dump it onto a lightly floured surface.
- Knead the dough with your hands, just until it comes together, adding in extra flour as needed to prevent the dough from being too sticky.
- Divide the dough into four pieces.
- Take one piece of dough and roll it into a long tube about 1 1/2 inches thick, dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking.
- Cut the dough into 1 inch pieces and place on a lightly floured foil lined baking sheets.
- Continue to roll and cut the remaining dough, then refrigerate the sheets until needed.
- To make the pesto, place the kale and garlic in a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped.
- Add the walnuts, cheese, and lemon juice, and pulse until blended.
- Drizzle the oil into the bowl, processing until the mixture was fairly smooth but still has texture.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then drop in the gnocchi.
- As soon as the gnocchi rise to the top, (2 to 3 minutes) remove from the heat, and drain.
- Return the gnocchi to the pot, and add a scoop of the pesto.
- Carefully turn the pot with the gnocchi to coat with sauce.
- Spoon the gnocchi into individual bowls, with a spoonful of the pesto on top.
- Offer additional cheese at the table.