Pesto butter-stuffed gnocchi in pesto oil

This is a dish I came up with on the fly one time, which isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a stuffed gnocchi, which sounds like a complicated recipe to make!

All it boils down to really, though, is a simple potato dumpling made with mashed potato and a little flour, and a simple basil pesto diversified into two different consistencies – one for the stuffing, and the other for the sauce.

Here’s how to make a dish that looks and tastes impressive, with a real cheat’s amount of effort… ūüėČ

Flavour: Savoury & herby

Serves: 2 as a light main meal

Ingredients:

  • 1 large potato, cut into chunks
  • half cup plain flour (plus a little more for dusting)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon chunky pesto (follow my recipe here, but stop before adding the oil – just use the paste)
  • 3 teaspoons non-dairy butter substitute
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Additional extras, if you fancy:

This dish is great just as it is… but if you wanted to jazz it up with some extras, here’s what goes well – any or all¬†of these work great:

  • garlicky oyster mushrooms
  • sauteed zucchini chunks
  • charred asparagus spears
  • wilted baby spinach
  • handful of pinenuts

Directions:

  1. Boil potato chunks in small saucepan until very soft; remove from water, strain and set aside
    • Amateur tip #1: you have to get the potato really, really soft so you can mash it with ease – if you have to work hard on your mash, your gnocchi will end up chewy instead of light and fluffy
    • Amateur tip #2: you need to strain those potatoes really, really well so they’re really, really dry before you start mashing – if your mash is a bit wet, it’ll react with the flour and give your gnocchi a somewhat gelatinous texture, which will make it chewy
  2. Mash potato chunks gently with a fork until smooth; add a pinch of salt and mix in
    • Amateur tip #3: you’re “supposed” to use a potato ricer for this, but I don’t have one and don’t see any value in getting more tools for the kitchen that do the same job as the ones I already have, so for me, a fork will do. If you have a ricer, by all means use it.
  3. Transfer mashed potato to fridge to cool
  4. Make your pesto paste as per instructions here (but stop before adding the oil – just make the paste)
  5. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of your chunky pesto paste with 2 teaspoons of non-dairy butter substitute
  6. Transfer your pesto butter to the freezer to harden – this will make it easier to use later (this will only take a few minutes)
  7. Combine the mashed potato with the flour and knead gently (remember, this isn’t bread – if you overwork your dough, it will be chewy like bread!) until you have a soft dough
    • Amateur tip: you may need to add more flour if your dough is stickier than you want – do this tentatively, little by little, kneading thoroughly to incorporate all the flour before deciding whether you need more
  8. Once your dough is ready, divide it into 24 pieces (you want these quite large if you’re planning to stuff them), and roll each piece into a gnocchi ball; place each gnocchi ball onto a lightly floured surface
  9. Flatten each gnocchi to approximately half centimetre thick circles
  10. Pop a little frozen pesto butter in the centre of each gnocchi circle
  11. Take one gnocchi circle, wrap it around the pesto butter centre, and gently pinch it closed, making sure it’s well sealed and there’s no chance of butter leaking out – then roll it gently between your hands to smooth it; repeat until you have 24 beautiful gnocchi balls with perfectly hidden stuffing
  12. Bring a small pot of water to the boil, and gently plop your gnocchi in to cook – they’ll take about 3 minutes, and you’ll know they’re done when they float to the surface
  13. Pull out your gnocchi with a slotted spoon and put them aside to drain
  14. Heat up a teaspoon of non-dairy butter in a skillet, and roll your gnocchi in the melted butter over a medium heat until they turn a light golden-brown – be gentle with them
  15. Once your gnocchi are golden, push them to one side of the skillet, and pour your olive oil into the other side, mixing a tablespoon of your chunky pesto into the oil
  16. Gently roll your gnocchi in the pesto oil, and¬†take off the heat – you’re now ready to plate up…

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