Gnocchi al Pesto (Potato Dumplings with Classic Pesto Genovese)

Gnocchi (Potato Dumplings)
Serves 6–8

  • 1 lb. Russet potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 1/4 cups semolina flour, sifted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup Genovese pesto (recipe follows below)
  • Grated parmesan, for serving

1. Put potatoes into a 4-qt. pot of salted water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until potatoes are tender, 25 minutes. Drain; let cool. Peel potatoes; pass through medium plate of a food mill into a bowl. Add flour and eggs; using a fork, stir until dough forms. Transfer dough to a work surface; knead briefly to combine. Divide the dough into 6 portions. Roll each portion into a 1/2″-thick rope. Cut ropes into 1/2″-wide pieces; using the back of a fork, roll pieces along tines to imprint them with ridges.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and working in batches, add gnocchi and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to a large bowl and toss with pesto until evenly coated, adding a couple spoonfuls of cooking water, if needed, to create a smooth sauce. Transfer to a large serving platter or bowls and serve with more freshly grated parmesan.

Pesto Genovese (Classic Basil Pesto)

Makes about 1 1/2 cups
In this classic version of pesto, the basil leaves are blanched in boiling water, then quickly shocked in ice water, to give the sauce a brilliant green hue and to reduce any bitterness.

Peto Genovese


  • 4 cups packed basil, blanched briefly in boiling water and shocked in ice water
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp. finely grated pecorino
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste

  1. Process basil, oil, parmesan, pine nuts, pecorino, and garlic in a food processor until smooth; season with salt.

Pairing Note: The delicately flavored pesto pairs well with the buoyant Ligurian white Punta Crena Pigato 2009 ($25). Sauvignon Blanc is also a fine choice, but keep it all “green” and no wood. A nice grassy, boney, angular one will cut through the cream while also marrying well with the herbaceousness of the parsley and basil. You may also want to consider selecting wines which are made from the same grapes as some of the ones from pestos homesland. Even though Lingurian whites such as Cinqueterre, Rivera Lingure di Ponente, Colli de Luni, and many more are pretty rare if you live in the United States, try selecting wines which are similar to Vermentino or whites from nearby appellations like Gavi and Soave, especially the latter if there actually is cream in your dish (Pieropan, Inama and Anselmi, whose wines no longer carry the appellation name, are excellent producers). Sella & Moscas’s Torbato di Alghero from Sardinia is another superb candidate. You may also be pleasantly surprised to find that young, light, raspy Lingurian reds can be a delight when paired with pesto; a Bardolino or lighter-styled Barbera, Dolcetto or Valpolicella would certainly provide a fair approximation of the effect as well. 

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