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Gnocchi in a Pesto sauce

Posted by: The Chiappas | 08.08.13

the recipe image

Gnocchi is a great dish that can go with lots of different sauces; Miki loves a classic tomato sauce; Emi’s favourite is the creamy walnut sauce and Romina loves a good Bolognese Ragu.  But if you’re in a rush, this super quick pesto does just the trick!

for the gnocchi

500g floury potatoes (large baking potatoes are best or King Edward or Maris Piper)

fine salt

1–2 medium eggs, preferably free-range or organic

150–200g plain flour, plus extra to dust

polenta, to dust


for the Pesto

50g fresh basil, leaves picked

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

50g pine nuts

50g freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra storing (optional)

fine salt and freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil over a high heat. Add the unpeeled potatoes and cook until tender; this could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your potatoes. They are ready when they fall off the blade of a knife easily. It’s important to cook the potatoes with their skins on, as this helps prevent excess moisture getting in.

Drain the potatoes and peel them while they’re still hot – use a tea towel to help hold them. Mash the potatoes while they are still hot, too. Try to make the mash as smooth as possible. Season with a pinch of salt and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Add an egg and 150g flour to the mash and mix to form a malleable dough. It needs to be firm and not too sticky. If it seems too soft, add some extra flour; if it is too stiff, add the second egg. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Dust the work surface with flour. Take off a handful of dough and roll it into a long sausage shape – the narrower the better.Using a knife, work your way along the dough cutting it into small, evenly sized squares, about 1cm wide. Place your finished gnocchi on trays dusted with polenta. Be careful not to overcrowd the trays or allow them to touch each other as they will stick together in a clump. (At this point you can freeze the gnocchi and once frozen bag them up to save on storage.)

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil to get ready to cook the gnocchi.

Meanwhile make your pesto; put the basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan and oil in a food processor, and blitz until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Carefully place the gnocchi in the boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes, until they start floating to the top – when they float that means they will be cooked! Using a spider or a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to a serving dish.  Mix in your pesto and serve.

Molto semplice!




This recipe will be found in our book “Simply Italain, At Home with the Chiappa sisters” being published in 2014 by Penguin: Micheal Joseph.  To pre order a copy NOW click here.

8 thoughts on “Gnocchi in a Pesto sauce

  1. Regina Ali says:

    This looks wonderful. The only thing is, last time I made fresh pesto with pine nuts my daughter and I had an awful metalic taste in our mouths for days afterwards. I found out it came from the pine nuts. So what pine nuts should one use, they should be Italian, I assume?
    Thank you.

  2. Emi Chiappa says:

    I’m not sure what caused this…we have never had it happen. We just buy the regular kind from the supermarket. Was it maybe the blade of the blender?

  3. Chloe Baldwin says:

    Just made this dish but with a simple tomato, garlic and basil sauce (my husband is allergic to lots of basil, but can get away with a few leaves) and it was delish! Thank you for the recipe, can’t wait to try the meatballs and polenta!

  4. […] I had a bit of a Friday night cooking frenzy!!…..Gnocchi with VF spuds. I’ve never made Gnocchi before and it was so much fun!!.. (thank you Chiappa Sisters for the best Gnocchi and pesto recipe ever!) www.thechiappas.com/gnocchi-in-a-pesto-sauce/ […]

  5. AC says:

    This was absolutely awesome! Made Gnocci for the first time and it was really nice! Made this for my wife and mother in law and they loved it! Saw this on the more4 show and was quite excited to make it! THANK YOU!

  6. Sam Hinton says:

    I made the gnocci with 500gm potatoes and found that I had quite a lot left over so I kept adding flour to the remainder until the mixture couldn’t take up any more flour as it was dry. Then I rolled the dough out into a pizza size disc and cooked it for three or four minutes on each side in a DRY frying pan. Viola – Irish potato bread. When cold cut into quarters and fry for a minute on each side with a couple of eggs, bacon, sausage and black pudding – the Ulster Fry. You may have guessed I’m from Ballymena.

  7. goterps says:

    I’ve heard of the pine nut mouth! I saw a NPR article a few months ago; they cited a study where numerous people get a metallic taste for days. However they couldn’t figure out if it was because if the nut or because of the person. I wonder if it’s like when some people think cilantro tastes like soap (genes).

    Anyway, love your blog!

  8. Rudy Da Corte says:

    Sorelle belle, please correct the spelling of your book title at the bottom of each recipe where you tell us it is in your book. I tried to find your book here in Canada and have not had much luck. May just have to order it online.

    Love your recipes. Keep smiling!


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