Homemade Gnocchi with Goat's Cheese Pesto

Ok so this isn’t very Christmassy at all but it is great food, a bit of a challenge, and overall delicious…so I think you can forgive me this one time. I’ve had the plan to make gnocchi from scratch for a while but I thought it was some huge process that was gonna take hours, turns out it’s not and it uses very simple ingredients, better still, it can even be made vegan! 

If you didn't know, gnocchi is a potato-based food from Italy that is commonly used much like pasta, where it’s added to sauces as a main meal but it’s actually considered a dumpling and not pasta (the more you know), but as I say, it’s still used in the same way in similar dishes to how pasta is used. Gnocchi (which translates to lumps in Italian) are small bean-shaped dumplings that are traditionally supposed to have a light and chewy texture and a plain, potentially lightly salted taste. If you look up gnocchi online you’ll see that mine compared to other images are MONSTROUSLY BIG, I think it's mainly because I haven't quite mastered the curling technique used to give them their traditional shape but that will come with time until then let me show you how to make them and a light but equally delicious goat’s cheese pesto to go with it. 

Serves 2 

350g Potatoes 
1 Egg, beaten 
100g Plain Flour 

190g Green Pesto
2 cloves of Garlic, diced
125g Soft Goat’s Cheese 
4 Medium-sized Mushrooms 

To start with, place the potatoes whole into a pan of boiling water, it’s really important that you don’t peel the potatoes before boiling as we want to keep as much water out as possible so the gnocchi cooks better once it’s formed. Boil the potatoes until soft and they slide off a blunt knife. 

Once the potatoes have cooked, carefully place them onto a tea towel, then using a knife peel all the skin off. 

Now, mash the potatoes on a clean kitchen counter until you have a thick mash with no large lumps. 

Make a pile of mashed potato on the counter, make a well in the middle, and add your egg and half the flour. Whilst the potato is still warm, combine the egg and flour with potato to make a soft dough, tip over the rest of your flour, and keep folding and combining until you have a dough ball. I found that once I had incorporated all the flour and made a ball I left it to sit for 5 mins to cool otherwise it’s quite difficult to work with and just kept coming apart in hot blobs. 

Separate the ball into 3 slices (I had to make 4 but it’s easier with 3), cover the counter with flour, and begin to gently roll the slices out into tubes the width of your finger, some of my ones were slightly thicker than I meant them to be, but yours should look like the very top tube. 

Now, slice the tubes into little pillows around the length of a fingernail, gently press one side of each piece with the fork so it imprints the fork pattern, this will help the sauce to cling better. As I said, mine are very big, you don’t really want them this big, they should be oblong shaped and about an inch long. Here’s the bit I didn't do very well at but maybe you’ll do better, take each gnocchi and place it at the base of the prongs of a fork (the fork should be upside down) VERY GENTLY roll the gnocchi along the length of the prongs until it curls, repeat this for each one and you should end up with dainty, curly gnocchi! Arrange them on a floured wooden surface like a chopping board and set them aside.  

Bring a medium pan of salted water to a boil and drop a handful of gnocchi in at a time, once the gnocchi floats back up to the top it’s cooked! Place these in a pan or bowl to rest while you cook the others. 

Now for our pesto, yes, I know I’ve cheated on this one and bought a store-made pesto but that was only because I wanted to fully focus on getting the gnocchi right, if you have your own preferred method of making pesto then go ahead and get that ready but for time and ease of recipe I’ve chosen to not make my own on this one. In a small bowl combine the pesto, garlic, goat’s cheese, and some salt and pepper, keep mixing until you have a thick, smooth paste. 

Now it’s time to put everything together! Put 1 tsp of oil into a frying pan and heat it on low-medium heat then add in your gnocchi and let this fry on its own for 2-3 mins until it takes on a light golden colour. I also seasoned the gnocchi with some salt and pepper at this point too. 

Pour over the pesto and let this combine with the gnocchi, stirring every minute or so, let this all fry together for between 5-10 mins then stir in the mushrooms and cook these with the pesto and gnocchi until the mushrooms have softened. 

Season to taste once more then transfer to your favorite festive Christmas plate and eat! 

Despite their massive size, I’m really happy with how the gnocchi came out, the pesto and goat’s cheese makes a really rich and creamy sauce and the mushrooms just add another thicker texture to quite a soft dish. As I said at the start, I was really surprised that gnocchi isn’t all that difficult to make, and to make your gnocchi vegan I’ve seen lots of traditional Italian recipes that don’t even use egg in the dough stage, just flour and potato until it comes together and then you’d just need your favourite vegan sauce and you’re all set! I would definitely make gnocchi again and I think once you get the hang of the process it would be quite a good weekday evening meal as there isn’t really any waiting around or resting times. One last funny picture, I noticed as I picked my plate up to eat the gnocchi that Santa had reared his head in my food! The gnocchi had parted perfectly to prove that Santa really is always watching, haha! 

But anyway, I  hope you find time to attempt this gnocchi recipe at some point, if you do, let me know if you manage to perfect that curling technique before the next time I make this! 
Only 7 days until Christmas! 

H x