Whole Wheat Herbed Gnocchi with Green Tea Hemp Pesto
Happy Hump-Day everyone! As I write, I am back home on my sunny porch in New York enjoying a relaxing few days with my family. It has been quite the whirlwind GRADUATING and saying goodbye to my close friends as I prepare to start my transition from Philly to NYC, and next Friday, I head to Houston to participate in an month-long orchestra festival. And in a sort of related incident, I finally put a Manhattan School of Music sticker on my instrument case, so things are getting kind of real. It is beyond immensely exciting, but also a leeeeeetle bit terrifying. It’s all part of the bigger picture as this new chapter begins, so I’m trying to get in as much time as I can with all the people I will miss over the next month!
The good news about having all this time to myself (and a nice, homey kitchen with natural light AND OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY SPACE!) is that I can concoct enough recipe posts to hold you all over while I’m in Texas without a kitchen. This recipe is just one of several I’ve been developing, and I’m kind of stoked, because today’s post also has a big “first” attached to it: This is my first contribution to The Recipe Re-Dux, a wonderful healthy food blogging network and monthly challenge that was brought to my attention a few months ago. I applied to be a part of it, and was offered membership starting this month. YAY! I was also excited when I heard that this month’s theme (there is a special theme or ingredient for each month’s challenge) was cooking with tea. And I LOVE TEA.
I have cooked with tea before, and in fact I have a post on the blog already with a tasty recipe for Chocolate Chai Mousse Cake, in which I also discuss my love affair with tea. But aside from that, my experience with using tea outside of my addiction to drinking it is minimal. At first, I thought maybe I’d create some kind of popsicle, or that a mixed beverage of sorts might be a good idea for the challenge. But, they don’t call this a “challenge” for nothing, so I wanted to explore and venture into the unknown world of savory tea dishes. One of the first ideas that came to me was a green tea pesto. I had never heard of or tasted such a thing, although upon Googling, I found that it had been done before (someday, I’ll get to be a bit more original). I was a little skimpy on the amount of tea I put into the pesto, but for a reason – because I also cooked the homemade gnocchi in green tea. Be. Still. My. Heart.
I was admittedly really nervous being so adventurous in the kitchen for this recipe – gnocchi can be a temperamental dish that requires both patience and lots of manual labor, and since I swapped out all-purpose flour in favor of whole wheat pastry flour, I was really unsure of how the texture would come out. I was half expecting the gnocchi to fall apart in the water, and that I would end up wasting pounds of unusable gnocchi dough. But miraculously, they came out deliciously delicate and fluffy. They could have had a bit more bite, but I personally really liked the lightness. Plus, boiling the dumplings in green tea gave them even more of an herbal punch.
- 2 lbs. (about 3-4 large) yukon gold potatoes
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus some for handling the dough (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1-2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1.5 tsp. salt
- 7-10 sachets of green tea, paper tabs cut off + water for boiling
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 1/4 cup raw pine nuts
- 3 tbs. hemp hearts
- 1-2 tablespoons green tea leaves, ground with a mortal and pestle or spice grinder
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tbs. freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1-2 tsp. lemon juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Prepare potatoes by washing, peeling thoroughly, cutting into chunks, and making sure to remove any eyes.
- Place potatoes into a large pot, and add water to cover. Bring water and potatoes to a boil, then reduce heat slightly just to keep the water rolling. Boil potatoes until very soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, and run through a food processor or mash thoroughly until smooth while still warm. Be sure that there are little to no chunks of potato remaining. Let cool – I stuck the bowl of mashed potatoes in the fridge and prepared the pesto while waiting.
- Add the cheese, flour, egg, thyme, and salt to the potatoes. Mix with your hands until the batter forms a sticky, pliable dough.
- Roll out dough into balls about the size of your palm.
- On a floured surface, roll out dough into snakes about 1/2 inch wide.
- Cut dough into small rectangles, and roll each dumpling onto the back of a fork (or a gnocchi board, if you have one) to create ridges.
- Bring about 5 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Once boiling, add 6 sachets of green tea. Let steep for 2-3 minutes and remove.
- Add the gnocchi in small batches to ensure that they do not stick together, and remove the dumplings as they begin to float. (Tips: Test the cooking time out on two or three of your gnocchi dumplings first until you get a consistency that you like. Generally, they should be ready when or soon after they float to the top of the water. A handy tool for this is a frying strainer!) If the boiling water starts to run low, add in a cup at a time to replenish, but be sure to also steep an extra bag of green tea for 2-3 minutes for each cup of water you add.
- Combine ingredients (except oil and lemon juice) in a food processor and pulse until blended thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the food processor as needed. Blend with the oil and lemon juice, and serve.