Red Fife Potato Gnocchi with Genoese Pesto

Red Fife Potato Gnocchi with Genoese Pesto

Recipe by Paul Pollaro
Course: Main course, Recipes, Side dish


Prep time


Cooking time




Red Fife has long been prized as a hearty bread wheat but our rustic adaptation of the delicate Italian gnocchi displays this heritage grain in an entirely new light. Served with a traditional Genoese pesto, the subtly sweet flavor of whole wheat has never tasted better.


  • For the gnocchi:
  • 2-3 large potatoes (about 650g)

  • 150 grams Maine Grains Heritage Red Fife Wheat Flour

  • 2 egg yolks

  • Course kosher salt

  • For the pesto:
  • 55 grams basil leaves (Genovese)

  • 100 grams parmigiano reggiano (grated)

  • 65 grams pine nuts

  • 10 grams garlic (2-3 cloves)

  • 3 grams kosher salt

  • 100 grams extra virgin olive oil

  • 60 grams ice water


  • Bake the potatoes:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and prepare a bed of course salt for the potatoes to rest.
  • Rinse the potatoes under cold running water, dry them thoroughly, then pierce each one with a fork on all sides to encourage the escape of excess steam.
  • Bake until a knife or fork can be inserted and removed without resistance (75-100 minutes).
  • Prepare the pesto:
  • Toast the pine nuts in a sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown. Spread the toasted pine nuts on a lined baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled.
  • In a food processor, combine the pine nuts, parmigiano reggiano, salt, garlic, and basil. While blending, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, followed by ice water. Once all of the ingredients are thoroughly emulsified, transfer the pesto to an airtight container and keep refrigerated until you are ready to serve.
  • Make the gnocchi dough:
  • Gnocchi dough should be made while the potatoes are still hot, so it is best to work quickly. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, remove them from the oven and brush off any excess salt. Scoop out the potato flesh and pass it through a ricer directly onto your work surface.
  • Create a well in the center of the pile as you would for pasta dough. Sprinkle the potatoes with a small amount of flour to hold the egg yolks in place, then add the egg yolks, salt, and about 2/3 of your remaining flour.
  • With a bench scraper, chop and fold the ingredients until evenly incorporated and a ball of dough can be formed. Overworking gnocchi dough at any phase should be carefully avoided, as this will cause the starches and gluten to produce a tough, gummy consistency (see notes below). Rather than kneading, gently flatten the dough and fold it over itself to further mix the ingredients. Add flour as needed until a soft, pillowy consistency is achieved.
  • Shape and blanch the gnocchi:
  • Place a large stockpot of water over medium-high heat and cover.
  • Divide the dough into eight equal portions. Using your fingers, gently roll a piece of dough into a rope (typically 1-2 cm in diameter) on a lightly floured surface. Cut the rope into bite-sized pieces (about as long as they are wide) with a knife or bench scraper. If desired, round each piece into a ball, then individually roll them over a gnocchi board to create an ovular shape with a textured surface. Repeat this process with the remainder of the dough.
  • Begin adding gnocchi to your pot of simmering water. If they lose their form or disintegrate, your dough likely needs more flour. Once cooked, they will float to the surface and should be quickly transferred to an ice bath to cool down. It is important not to soak the gnocchi any longer than necessary, as they will begin to absorb water. The purpose of the ice path is simply to cool the gnocchi to a point at which they can be handled. As soon as this is achieved, remove them from the water and transfer to a sheet pan lined with a paper towel or parchment.
  • Gnocchi can be served immediately, refrigerated for a few days, or frozen for future use.
  • Serve:
  • Sear the gnocchi in a well-seasoned sauté pan over high heat until browned on all sides. Remove from heat and add pesto to the pan. Gently toss or stir until evenly coated. Serve with grated parmigiano reggiano and enjoy!


  • Know the dough: Most recipes are meant to serve as a general guide to the cook, with execution being the most important factor in overall success. This is especially true of gnocchi. In fact, you should never replicate a recipe for gnocchi exactly as written. The ideal ratio of flour, potato, egg yolk, and salt to create the desired texture (light and pillowy) is hugely dependent on variable factors such as moisture, the varieties of potato and wheat being used, or even the time of year the dough is made. Be present when preparing this recipe to develop a feel for how your ingredients and techniques impact the dough’s final texture.
  • Moisture: Keeping moisture at a minimum is paramount for gnocchi dough and begins with selecting the right potatoes. Cultivars with high starch and low sugar are ideal. Baking the potatoes (rather than boiling) is important, as it allows excess moisture to escape, particularly when done on a heaping bed of coarse salt. In the dough itself, adding flour will allow you to fine tune the texture, adjusting for the unavoidable moisture variability of the potato.
  • Starch & gluten: Certain components of gnocchi dough (potato starch and wheat gluten) are particularly prone to creating a tough, gummy texture if handled improperly. Mashing potatoes or kneading dough will induce this effect by giving the molecules a greater opportunity to interact, bond together, and absorb water. A ricer is the least forceful method to “mash” potatoes, as the flesh only makes contact with the tool once. If you do not have a ricer, try passing the potato flesh through a wire sieve or very carefully mash it with the tines of a fork. Using a bench scraper to chop and fold the ingredients into a dough serves essentially the same purpose, as it eliminates the obligation to mix and knead. To put it simply, just be gentle.
  • Temperature: Allowing starch to cool down induces a process known as retrogradation, in which the molecular chains cluster tightly together. This is why long grain rice becomes very hard when refrigerated but softens again once reheated. For this reason, it is important to work quickly while your gnocchi dough is still warm in order to avoid a gummy consistency.

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