Whole Wheat Potato-Spinach Gnocchi with Kale-Walnut Pesto

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In the past, I have found making gnocchi to be a frustrating experience. I blame my previous difficulty on waterlogged potatoes… In this recipe, the potatoes are baked prior to ricing- no water involved- it worked perfectly!  The gnocchi were tender, soft, and pillowy. This dish was inspired by alamain.net. The recipe for gnocchi was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Grace Parisi. I modified it by adding spinach, using whole wheat flour, and dressing it with pesto. The pesto recipe was adapted from alamain.net. I used Tuscan Kale instead of Rainbow Kale, Grana Padano instead of Parmesan, and walnuts instead of pine nuts. I doubled the gnocchi recipe to freeze a batch for later. Green, healthy, and delicious!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Gnocchi:

  • 4 pounds russet potatoes (about 6) (enough to make 5 cups riced potatoes)
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, or enough to achieve desired dough texture, plus more for dusting
  • 6 oz baby spinach
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Kale-Walnut Pesto (recipe follows)
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork. Alternatively, bake the potatoes in the oven for about 1 hour, until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, sauté the baby spinach in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. Using the potato ricer, squeeze out excess moisture from the spinach. Finely chop the drained spinach in a food processor.
  3. Halve the potatoes. Scoop the flesh into a ricer and rice the potatoes. IMG_8138 Transfer 5 slightly packed cups of riced potatoes to a bowl. Stir in the egg yolks, drained and chopped spinach, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Add the 1 to 1 1/2 cups of flour; stir until a stiff dough forms. Knead the dough gently until smooth but slightly sticky, adding more flour if necessary.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with flour. On a floured surface, cut the dough into 16 pieces, rolling each into a 3/4-inch-thick rope. Cut the ropes into 3/4-inch pieces.
  5. With your thumb, roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make ridges (I dusted the gnocchi, fork, and my thumb with flour before rolling); transfer to the baking sheet.
  6. In a large pot of simmering salted water, cook the gnocchi in batches until they rise to the surface, then simmer for 2 minutes longer. Repeat as necessary. (Do not overcrowd!)
  7. Toss the gnocchi with pesto to cover, sprinkle with the cheese, and serve.

MAKE AHEAD: The uncooked gnocchi pieces can be frozen on the prepared baking sheet, transferred to a resealable plastic bag, and frozen for up to 1 month. Boil without defrosting. (I reserved half of the batch.)

For the Kale-Walnut Pesto

  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 cup Tuscan kale
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Grana Padano
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until paste consistency is reached. Store in an airtight container.

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