Beet Gnocchi (with Buttered Walnuts and Roquefort Cheese)

Mmmm–beets! And homemade gnocchi! I love both! This recipe is a bit different, though, as the gnocchi isn't potato-based. And it's good. Of course, with gnocchi- the sauce is up to you, but I'm also including one that is yummy. Beets go well with walnuts and a nice stinky cheese...

It's a lot of work--and it's messy-- but it's fun. And really, really delish!

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Ingredients for the Beet Gnocchi:
  • 1 1/2 large red beets (baseball sized), uncooked
  • Two cups all-purpose flour, plus extra
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • One egg
  • Basil/chives (for garnish) 
  • Fresh ground pepper (garnish) 
  • Salt

Ingredients for Sauce:
  • Three-four tbsp. butter
  • 1 splash olive oil
  • 1 cup crushed walnuts
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Roquefort or Blue Cheese

Instructions for the gnocchi:
Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Place beets in a baking pan. Fill with about 5 cups of water. Drizzle the beets with olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 50 minutes. (Dance in the kitchen- or do whatever you need to do while cooking.) Remove from oven. When cool, peel and chop into 1" chunks. Place in a food processor and pulverize!

Rolled gnocchi snakes... cut em, and...
 Pour two cups flour into a large mixing bowl and create a hole (think volcano), to place the ingredients in the "nest"– the nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, ricotta, parmesan, the pulverized beets, and the egg. Mix well. Then transfer to a floured cutting board. Roll out the dough using the palms of your hands, pushing it until it's smooth. (It's a workout!) If the dough is too wet, add a bit of flour. If it's too dry, add a bit of water. Work that dough--and your arms! Finally, when it's ready, nice and smooth– shape it into a ball. Cut the ball into six-eight pieces. Flour your board again. Take each piece and roll it into a long snake- about 3/4" thick. Then cut each snake into pieces- about 1/2" long. If you want to get fancy, make indentations with the back of a fork or a gnocchi board. (See below). Place each gnocchi on parchment paper...and continue.

When all of your gnocchi are formed, sprinkle with flour, and then bring a pot of slightly salted water to boil. Cook the beet gnocchi for about 1 minute-- or until the gnocchis float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon. Set aside.

For the sauce: in a pan, heat up the butter with a splash of olive oil. Once bubbling, add in the walnuts. Stir. Reduce heat to low.

In a small pot, heat up the vinegar over high heat for about five minutes, until it reduces to a syrup-like consistency. Set aside, allowing to cool.

Add the gnocchi to the walnuts, stirring and coating them with the butter/olive oil/walnuts for about one minute. Place the beet gnocchis/walnuts on individual plates/bowls...crumble the cheese over them...and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Garnish with basil or chives, fresh ground pepper, and serve. (Add some more parmesan, if desired). This dish is nice with a salad and a fresh baguette.

Note: the gnocchi can be prepared in advance and will keep frozen. So get thee a beet gnocchi making!

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Bon Appétit, Baby!

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