Beets. Gnocchi. Ever.

I will start by saying that gnocchi is so so so awesome!  Furthermore, beets are so so so awesome.  So it follows that Beet Gnocchi is so so so so so so awesome!  Well, that’s ridiculous, but what I mean to say is that Beet Gnocchi is really amazingly good, and you need to make some soon….

I found out about gnocchi three years ago when my brother-in-law was staying with us and said he was going to cook it for us.  I was impressed by his ambition and immediately hooked.  The following year I had it as my birthday dinner (which is a big deal since that was one of my first non-pizza birthdays for quite some time…).  Sometime after that I got a big boost of gnocchi confidence from a dear friend of ours in Atlanta (who happens to be Italian).  With her guidance I gained a lot of confidence and knowledge in making gnocchi and learned helpful tips like the importance of uniform size within pasta dishes.

It goes without saying then that without the influence of those two wonderful people in our lives I never would have considered making the following dish.  And let me just say that it turned out super-awesome!  My one recommendation would be to cook this meal with another person because it’s just easier and more enjoyable to make gnocchi with company.  But if you have to go it alone that’s fine too, the results will still be wonderful.  If you don’t have some good friends or family to guide you and want more  instructions in the overall process I recommend Well Preserved’s gnocchi recipe.

beet gnocchi

Beet Gnocchi

Adapted from Food and Wine

  • 1 lb. beets, no stems (I used 6 small/medium sized beets)
  • oil*
  • ¾ cup ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 3+ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup parmesan** cheese (grated or powder)
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted
  • ½ cup butter (you can use less if you like…)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice

Toss the beets in oil and roast them in a covered oven-proof dish at 375 for 1 hour.  Remove and allow them to cool before peeling them and chopping them into quarters. (You can do this the night before which will save time).   Puree the beets in a food processor.  Add the ricotta, egg, and nutmeg and continue to puree the mixture.  Add the flour 1 cup at a time and blend.  (You may not need all the flour or you may need more—this will depend partly on your beets and the moisture content of your ricotta).  Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add more flour if necessary, and knead for about 1 minute.  If the dough is very sticky continue adding more flour until it is only slightly sticky, and yes, it’s okay if dough is literally sticking to your fingers instead of to itself.  Cover the dough and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.

Heat a large pot of salted water (see WellPreserved’s gnocchi recipe in which they advise “…use too much water”).  Transfer the dough to a heavily floured counter or cutting board.  Using a large knife chop the dough into 5-6 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ½ inch-thick rope.  Then chop the rope into small ½ inch or ¾ inch pieces of gnocchi.  Transfer these to a floured baking sheet until they are boiled.  If you have an assistant in the kitchen one person can roll and chop the pasta while the other boils it.  If you’re working alone it may be easier to make all the gnocchi and then boil afterwards.  Regardless, boil ¼ of the gnocchi at a time in your large pot of salted water.  Boil until the pasta floats for 1 minute.  Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and place them on an oiled cookie sheet.

In a large pot or skillet melt the butter and cook until it is beginning to brown.  Add the sage and lemon juice and cook briefly before adding the gnocchi.  Cook for several minutes until the gnocchi is warm to your liking.  Serve topped with the toasted walnuts and grated parmesan cheese.  Light a candle.  Pour some wine.  Enjoy this meal slowly!


*If you’re wondering why I don’t specify oil in some of my recipes it’s because everyone has different local oil options.  What I have in my pantry now are cold-pressed canola and cold-pressed sunflower.  I still use olive oil at times but I don’t plan on replacing it when my bottle runs out.  I’m quite happy with my two local options.

**We decided that the next time we make this we’re going to substitute a sharp cheddar which is easier to find locally.