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Ah the simple pleasures in life. It’s funny how when we are so used to things we take them for granted without even noticing, isn’t it? Like when I have a blocked nose from a cold in the winter and I’m reduced to sucking the air through my mouth, gargling and grunting with severe, pasty dry mouth. Then I think back you how I used to breath so clearly, fresh clean air passing through my airways without any problems what so ever only 2 days ago but it seemed so long (I’m picturing myself standing on top of green rolling hills taking in deep breaths of air as the sun is shining and life is beautiful, like on some menthol chewing gum ad) but in reality I don’t actually stop and appreciate the smooth, clear respiratory function my nose gives me from day to day until suddenly it’s not there.
Where am I going with this? I thought this was a recipe for Gnocchi with walnut and chilli pesto? Well it is, just bare with me I’ll get to it.
As I was sitting at my living room window looking out at the glorious sunshine, listening to the water trickling down the fountain outside and eating my bowl of gnocchi for lunch. I got a real sense of calm and peace that I can honestly say I’ve not had in a long time…if not ever! It made me really appreciate the moment that I was in. I thought to myself I’m in Italy, In the beautiful countryside, Ok I hardly have any internet connection and the house is only half unpacked after two and a half weeks but I’m in Italy. I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else and I’m so happy enjoying just the simplisity of my life. How a bowl of gnocchi with walnut and chilli pesto makes me so happy, I love that! If only everyone could be as content just sitting with a big bowl of something delicous watching the world go by forgeting about all the stress in our lives for just a few moments.
Lucky for you, you might just get the same blissful moment I had with this recipe, maybe. This gnocchi recipe couldn’t be easier making it 100% stress and fuss free. I mean you could open a jar of pesto and it would be even easier but it wouldn’t taste even nearly as good. I like to think of Nigella Lawson’s comparison of shop bought pesto compared to homemade pesto as instant coffee is to proper freshly brewed stuff, it’s just not the same thing, is it? However in less than 10 minutes, you can have a speedy midweek dinner, packed full of flavour and served up and no time.
Gnocchi with walnut and chilli pesto
- 1.6 lbs (750g) Gnocchi
- 2 cups (25g) fresh basil , plus extra for garnish
- 1/4 cup (35g) chopped walnuts
- 3-4 tbsp Parmigiano Reginano plus extra to garnish
- 1 clove small garlic or ½ a large one
- 4 tbsp (50 ml) olive oil
- Squeeze of lemon
- ½ tsp chilli paste , I use small Italian jars of pepperoncino that come in a red paste sometimes mashed with sundried tomatoes and full of chilli seeds, very hot
- Salt and pepper to season
- Put a large pot of water under a medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Meanwhile put the basil, garlic, walnuts, parmesan and olive oil in a bowl and blitz with an immersion/hand blender to a smooth paste. You can of course use a mortar and pestle (does anyone else say pestle and mortar? I do) to do this instead of a blender.
- Once you have a smooth paste add the lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the chilli paste, you just want a subtle, little bit of heat, nothing too harsh. If the pesto seems too thick add a little more olive oil to your liking. Remember it’s a sauce so you want it to be able to coat the gnocchi nicely and not be too claggy.
- Season the boiling water with a good pinch of salt then add the gnocchi. When they start to come to the surface (only 2-3 minutes) they are ready. Drain them then add them back to the pot with the pesto and stir until completely coated.
- Serve in bowls and garnish with some left over basil and parmesan, enjoy!
- I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
- When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
- All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
- All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
- Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
- Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
- You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here