Parsnip Gnocchi with Arugula Walnut Pesto Recipe | PBS Food

Parsnip Gnocchi with Arugula Walnut Pesto

parsnip gnocchi

An enticingly sweet flavor is created when parsnip is added to a classic gnocchi dough. Served in a lemony arugula walnut pesto and it's lip-smacking good. Aube Giroux shares more about this dish in the Kitchen Vignettes blog.


Yield: Serves 3 to 4



  • For the gnocchi:
  • 1 pound of Russet potatoes (or an equally dry variety), about 3 medium-sized potatoes
  • 1 pound parsnip, about 2 large parsnips
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (more, as needed, and for rolling)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil

  • For the pesto:
  • 2 cups tightly packed arugula
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated parmesan
  • Juice of one large lemon (about 3 Tbsp)
  • Zest of one lemon (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 clove chipped garlic
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Prick the potatoes with a fork and rub about 1 tsp of olive oil all over the whole parsnips. Roast the potatoes and parsnips on a baking sheet in a 400F oven for approximately one hour or until very tender when pierced with a fork.
  2. Allow to cool sightly and as soon as you can handle them, remove the skins from the hot potatoes and parsnips. Press the potatoes through a potato ricer if you have one, or grate them over the large holes of a box grater. Puree the parsnips using a stand or immersion blender, until smooth. (Or simply mash them with a fork as a did in the video). If the parsnips are large, the hearts may be tough, if this is case, simply remove and discard them and work with the tender flesh only. Place the grated potato and parsnip on a clean board. Whisk the egg yolks and pour over the parsnip and potato mash. Using a flour sifter or fine-mesh sieve, sprinkle on about 1/4 cup of the flour and begin to incorporate the flour very loosely, using a pastry blender or a wooden spatula. Avoid overworking or kneading the dough. Cutting in the flour prevents the gluten in the flour from developing and yields a more tender gnocchi. Keep adding flour and incorporating it until the dough becomes less sticky. You can begin folding the dough gently onto itself to incorporate the last amounts of flour. Add more flour as needed, to obtain a dough that holds together well and is not overly sticky, but is not stiff and dry either. Roll the dough into a log, cover with a cloth, and let it rest for 15 minutes while you prepare the pesto.
  3. Place all the pesto ingredients except the oil in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the olive oil and pulse just until incorporated, or until your pesto reaches the consistency you prefer. (Some people like a smooth pesto but I like to see flecks of green and I try to avoid a puree). Taste and add salt, pepper, and more lemon juice as needed.
  4. Take the gnocchi log and slice it into about 6 even pieces. Roll each piece into a long snake about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the gnocchi pieces so they are about 1-inch long. Dust with flour and avoid piling them together so they don’t clump.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Delicately drop the gnocchi into the boiling water, in about 3 or 4 separate batches. They will drop to the bottom and after about a minute, they will float to the surface. Let them float for about 30 seconds and then remove with a strainer or slotted spoon and transfer into a heated pan with the 2 Tbsp of butter. Allow the gnocchi to turn golden brown and at the last minute, add a generous dollop of pesto, making sure not to leave the pesto in the hot pan for more than a few seconds otherwise it will begin to turn a brownish green. Serve hot, with a bit of extra grated parmesan.
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