I have confessed my love for pasta multiple times. I mean, I’m Italian, not liking pasta would practically be considered a sin, right? Well, maybe not, but to some people. The funny thing is, I hated pasta when I was little, I didn't want any part of it. But now, I’d say I have pasta anywhere from 3-4 times a week.
Since I really started cooking and when I say really, I mean REALLY. When I use to cook, I would make eggs, simple pasta dishes and I loved to bake. Now I’m very into making everything from scratch and that includes my pasta. One of my favorite pastas is gnocchi, which is an Italian dumpling that is traditionally made with flour and potato, of course like any pasta, there are a million variations. I've even made Gluten Free Pumpkin Gnocchi, so pretty much nothing is off limits!!
For weeks, I've been wanting to experience with different gnocchi’s and what intrigued me…was the beet. Beet Gnocchi that is!! I knew I wanted to serve it in a special sauce, something a little “out there”…beet greens pesto!!
When you get beets the top have all of these beautiful greens that most people don’t bother using, but when I got my beets, they were extremely fresh, so I turned the greens into pesto! These gnocchi have a wonderful earthy taste, the flavor is not of your typical gnocchi, however the texture is. There is nothing like homemade gnocchi, they are so light and tender. I call gnocchi little clouds, because to me, that’s what they taste like! Making homemade gnocchi does take some effort, but to me, it’s completely worth it. You’ll never want to buy packaged gnocchi again!
1 pound of potatoes
½ pound of beets
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
¾ cup of double 00 flour (if you don’t have double 00 flour, you can substitute semolina or AP)
Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Cleaning your potatoes and beets. Cut the beet greens off of the top and set them all aside in a large bowl. Bake the potatoes and beets until they are tender, this could take anywhere from an hour or so, depending on the heat of your oven.
Once the beets and potatoes are done, take them out of the oven. Split the potato so steam escapes. Allow to beets to cool while preparing the potatoes. With the potatoes, peel off the skin and take out of the flesh. Set the potatoes aside.
When the beets have cooled, peel the skin and transfer the beets to a food processor. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Process until smooth.
With the potatoes, pass the potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl. Add the beet puree. Add the flour in shifts. Use your hands; do not use a spoon or a whisk of any kind!! As you go along, you will be able to tell if you may need more flour. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll a piece of the dough into a rope and then cut into little pieces. Continue rolling the dough into ropes and cutting until you have finished making all of your gnocchi. I kind of like it when my gnocchi are slightly different sizes and shapes, there is something rustic about it me. Put the gnocchi on the parchment paper. I put my gnocchi in the refrigerators for around an hour to set and make sure they hold their shape.
In the meantime, make your beet greens peso…
Beet Greens Pesto
½ cup to 1 cup of olive oil (depends how thick or thin you want it)
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. pepper
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ cup of toasted pistachios
The beet greens from your ½ pound of beets, cleaned, blanched and chopped
¼ cup basil, cleaned, blanched and chopped
¼ cup parsley, cleaned, blanched and chopped
½ cup grated parmigiana
Add your olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper, lemon juice and pistachios to a food processor. Pulse a few times. Add your beet greens, basil, parsley and parmigiana. Taste, you can adjust the salt and pepper if you like. Mix until smooth and creamy. Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator. I would suggest using this within a week.
Back to the gnocchi!! Prepare a large with water over high heat. Set a pan on the stove where you will transfer your gnocchi when they are done. When the water is boiling, add the gnocchi. Fresh gnocchi cooks VERY quickly. Once it floats to top, using a slotted spoon, put the gnocchi in your other pan. Add ½ cup of the beet greens pesto to the gnocchi and gently toss. Enjoy!!