GNOCCHI WITH PESTO SAUCE
2 ½ pounds (about 4) russet baking potatoes
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1 ¼ – 1 ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups basil leaves, packed
3 cloves garlic, rough chopped
½ cup good parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ – ¾ cup olive oil
Parmesan for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Pierce the potatoes several times with a fork so that the moisture can escape during baking. Bake for 1 hour or until fork tender (depending on size). Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, while they are still hot, and press them through a potato ricer. (Save the skins and top with cheese and bacon for a yummy app – don’t forget the sour cream and chives after baking!!)
Put riced potatoes in a large bowl with salt, baking powder, and egg. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix gently with a fork, folding, until the mixture begins to come together. Dust your hands with flour and turn the dough onto a floured counter. Sprinkle another ¼ cup of dough over the top and gently knead, slowly adding the remaining ¼ cup as needed until the dough forms a ball. Do not over work the dough.
Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Form each piece into a log and roll back and forth into a rope, about 15″ long. The rope should be a little thicker than your finger. Cut each rope into 1 inch pieces.
Gently roll each 1″ piece, pressing down lightly, with a fork creating indentations that will hold the sauce. Have fun with this, they don’t have to be perfect but once you get the hang of it they will start looking more uniform.
Spread the gnocchi out on a cookie sheet, dusted with flour and separated. If you are cooking later put the tray in the freezer and then when frozen place frozen gnocchi in a plastic bag to store.
Cook in rapidly boiling salted water for about 2 or 3 minutes. They will float to the top when done. Cook about 30 seconds more after they rise and remove with a slotted spoon or seive to drain and place on a serving platter.
While you bring the salted water to a boil to cook the gnocchi, make your pesto.
Combine the basil, garlic, parmesan, nuts, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse multiple times until the basil is broken down and the ingredients are combined.
Put the food processor on low speed and drizzle the olive in through the tube until a loose saucy paste forms.
Gingerly toss the hot gnocchi with the sauce. Garnish with more parmesan and fresh basil leaves.
Note – this is a very classic recipe, but there many ways to vary the flavor in this herbaceous sauce. Try substituting or combining other herbs like parsley or mint to the basil or use spinach or arugula. Add sundried tomatoes for a sweeter zing or even dried cranberries. You can even kick up the heat with a little jalapeno! You can also use walnuts or pistachios in place of the pine nuts!