Potato Gnocchi with Ligurian Pesto and Tomatoes

Written by Eydie Desser

I enjoyed a glorious week in Tuscany at the most amazing cooking school run by Giuliano Bugialli. This was one of my very favorite recipes. I plant-based it and omitted the oil and it still tastes great! I also substituted Whole Wheat flour for white flour for a more nutritious dish. It’s unusual and so delicious! Making the gnocchi takes a bit of practice but I’ll guide you along the way.


For the Gnocchi:

  • 3 pounds all-purpose potatoes (I used 6 smaller sized Russets, as they cook faster, and more evenly than using larger ones)
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat flour (or use unbleached AP flour)

For the Pesto :

  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 15 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, leaves only
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 TB + 1 tsp Nutritional Yeast
  • ½ cup pine nuts (lightly toasted in 350°F oven, 3 minutes)
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt (optional)
  • ½ cup GOE House Vegetable Stock, or more as needed to make for a pourable sauce 

For the Tomato Sauce :

  • 1-1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes or 28 oz. drained canned whole peeled tomatoes
  • ¼ cup GOE House Vegetable Stock (plus more as needed)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut into small slivers
  • 1/8 tsp. salt (optional) and freshly ground black pepper, or red pepper flakes
  • 10 large fresh basil leaves


1- Place the unpeeled potatoes in a stockpot with cold water to completely cover the potatoes. Heat the pot, uncovered, over medium heat and cook until potatoes are very soft, about 35-40 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.

2- Drain and peel the potatoes while still hot and pass them through a potato ricer onto a cutting board. Let them rest until cool.

3- While potatoes are cooking, prepare the pesto sauce. Place the basil, parsley, garlic, nutritional yeast in a food processor and process until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in vegetable stock, until creamy. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

4- Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil over medium heat. Knead 3/4 cup of the flour into riced potatoes. Cut the potato mixture into several pieces, and using your fingers and floured palms of your hands, roll them out into “ropes” about 3/4” in diameter. Cut each “rope” about 1/2” – 3/4” pieces.

5- Optional: Roll the narrow side, like a wheel, of each piece on a gnocchi board to create grooves, or along the inside tines of a large fork.

Prepare the Tomato Sauce : 

1- If using fresh ripened tomatoes, cut them into large pieces and place in a nonreactive skillet with vegetable stock over medium heat. When the stock is simmering, add sliced garlic and sauté until stock is well flavored, about 1 minute. Add more stock if needed.

2- Add the drained tomatoes, either fresh or canned, and cook for 15 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes every so often, with a wooden spoon, until chunky.

3- Season with a pinch of salt (optional) and freshly ground pepper or 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes. Warm a serving platter.

Cook the Gnocchi :

1- Fill a stock pot with water and place over high heat. When the water reaches a boil, add the gnocchi pieces, 10-15 at a time, and turn down the heat to medium.  

2- When gnocchi float to the surface of the water, and are firm to the touch, use a skimmer to transfer them to the warmed serving platter.

3- As you cook the gnocchi, finish the tomato sauce, cooking over medium heat for a minute or so. Add the basil leaves and cook for 1 minute more, until wilted and combined with the sauce.

4- Add the pesto sauce to the tomato sauce, mix very well, adding more vegetable stock to create a pourable sauce.  

5- Immediately remove the skillet from the heat. Add a pinch of salt (optional), if needed, and either freshly ground black pepper or 1/8th tsp. red pepper flakes.

6- When all of the gnocchi are cooked and on the serving platter, pour the sauce over them.  

7- Serve with fresh chiffonade of basil.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments