These beautifully colored beet gnocchi are as delicious as they are pretty. They have a mild flavor with a light creaminess from the ricotta in them. Perfect to brighten up your plate.
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Gnocchi have long been a favorite in our house. It was the first food my eldest became a big fan of and so we had them pretty regularly for a while. Until my younger son became less keen, that was.
Thankfully, though, they now both like them and even better, are both really happy to help make them. My eldest loves being able to cut them into pieces and my youngest happily rolls away. It makes my heart pretty happy, kind of like these pretty little bites.
How using beets differs from potatoes
Classic gnocchi use potato, but it is easily substituted, in part or full, with other similar ingredients. Squash and sweet potatoes are some of our favorites.
With potato, after it is cooked you then mash or rice it while warm. With beet, however, you really need to blend it up with a food processor. This is mainly because it doesn't mash well, however tender. But on the plus side, it doesn't become gummy as potato.
You can make this just with beet, but I decided to use a little potato since it has a lower amount of moisture. This means you get a nice texture without needing a lot of flour which I think can take over.
The main difference here from some gnocchi, however, is I have not used eggs here but instead some ricotta. Some kind of soft cheese is not so unusual, and in fact not all gnocchi recipes use eggs either. I understand (partly from this recipe that I drew on for this) that it's a bit of a contested debate amongst Italians.
My reasoning was pretty simple: I felt egg yolks would likely change the color to be a little more yellowed, and ricotta helps balance the flavor.
The end result didn't disappoint. Any misgivings you might have about beet having an iron-y flavor don't apply here. In fact you might be forgiven for not identifying them as having beet in them. They are simply tasty, maybe very slightly earthy, and with a slight creaminess to them.
There's no denying that gnocchi take a little time to make due to the rolling, but as you can hopefully tell given my relatively young children help, they are certainly pretty easy. Plus, it's a little like bread, it's kind of therapeutic.
You can also make these ahead of time or freeze any leftover. Freeze the formed but uncooked gnocchi in a single layer (eg on a baking sheet/tray). Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or box. Then cook from frozen - they will take slightly longer but will rise to the top when ready, as usual.
How to serve beet gnocchi
You can serve these in a few ways but I suggest keeping it simple. My favorite is with browned butter, either plain or with some sage leaves sizzled in there.
Alternatively, you could make a gorgonzola sauce which would pair pretty well. Walnuts are another great flavor match for beet so you could try some walnut sauce or else toast some walnuts in with another sauce.
These beet gnocchi are brightly colored but with a wonderfully light, delicate flavor. They are easy to make and while not the quickest, they are definitely worth the effort. Give them a try soon!
Try these other homemade gnocchi and pasta recipes:
- Acorn squash gnocchi
- Crab ravioli
- Fresh spinach pasta
- Tortellini in brodo
- Plus get more Italian recipes in the archives.
- 10 ½ oz beet 300g beetroot
- 5 ½ oz potato 155g
- ¾ cup ricotta 165g
- ½ cup grated parmesan 30g
- 1 ½ cup all purpose flour 210g plain flour, plus more for dusting
- Peel the beet and potato and cut both into chunks, with the potato in slightly larger chunks than the beet.
- Steam both vegetables or place in a pot and cover with cold water and bring to a boil to cook until tender to a knifepoint. You can cook them together or separately, as suits - timing will depend on the size of the pieces but the potato will take around 10 minutes, beet 15 minutes. Test as you go and take out potato if ready sooner instead of cooking further.
- Once cooked, drain the vegetables. Mash the potato while still warm (or use a ricer) and leave to cool. Blend the beet in a food processor until relatively smooth then allow to cool (you can speed up the beet in the fridge but I recommend potato at room temperature so it doesn't become more moist).
- While the vegetables are cooking and cooling, measure out the other ingredients. Once both potato and beet are lukewarm, combine both in a large bowl and add the ricotta, parmesan and flour. Mix well, using your hands towards the end to break any chunks and distribute everything well.
- Lightly flour a clean work surface and take a small handful of the dough. Roll it out into a log, roughly ½ - ⅔in (1 ½ - 2cm) diameter, flouring as you go as needed to save it sticking.
- Cut slices from the log then roll each with floured hands into balls. If you like, you can give them some texture with the tips of a fork on one side or roll or a wooden gnocchi board.
- Repeat with the rest of the gnocchi dough, placing on a lightly floured plate or baking sheet/tray once formed until ready to cook.
- Bring a wide pot of water to a roaring boil (you want a good 2inches/5cm or more depth). Add some of the gnocchi to the water, trying to spread them out though they will drift together. Take care not to overcrowd the pot.
- Once they rise to the surface, let them boil just 30 sec-1min more then remove them with a slotted spoon (or drain with a regular spoon as you go). I typically keep them in a bowl to keep warm and add further batches as they are ready. Repeat with the rest of the gnocchi then serve - I suggest with browned butter and topped with parmesan.
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