Beetroot gnocchi – soft, silky, dark red pillows briefly sauteed in fragrant brown butter, with fresh lemon juice and crispy broccoli – what’s not to love here?
For me, this meal is complete only when I grate some good Parmigiano Reggiano and add some freshly ground pepper.
Gnocchi is one of the least attractive side dishes I’ve ever eaten. At least that’s what I thought before.
God, how naive I was!
Listen to this: gnocchi can be the main star of your plate and they can taste so freakin’ good! I’ve eaten bad gnocchi most of my life. You know, the ones from the store, because they are affordable and can be in your plate at no time.
That was a mistake. Now I know that homemade gnocchi is so much better!
What do we (do not) know about gnocchi
Did you know that gnocchi are actually a forerunner of pasta?
As Marc Vetri and David Joachim wrote in their book “Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto”, in the beginning, the gnocchi was made only from flour and water. Although today, when we hear the word “gnocchi”, we first think of potatoes as one of the main ingredients, they actually came into the recipe much later.
After all, when you’re making gnocchi, you don’t have to be limited to just potatoes. You can make these Italian dumplings from different types of vegetables like pumpkins, sweet potatoes, spinach, or beets, cheeses like ricotta or parmesan, and you can experiment with different types of flours too.
Unlike pasta, gnocchi requires gentle hands. They don’t like to be kneaded very long like brioche or Croatian pinca bread. Have in mind that the flour is here only to bind the ingredients.
Which flour is best to make gnocchi
Making gnocchi from the scratch doesn’t need to be hard.
The flour that we’re going to use is a matter of personal choice and the results that we would like to achieve. Italians like to use 00 flour which is very fine. That enables the gnocchi to achieve that perfect silky texture.
Whatever type of flour you opt for, there are few tricks you need to know to make really good homemade gnocchi. Beetroot gnocchi is somewhat more challenging to make than potato gnocchi but is worth every effort.
For making beetroot gnocchi, the combination of all-purpose and cake flour proved to be the best for me. Beetroots, unlike potatoes, have significantly different nutrients. They contain more water and less starch, which means that we need to add a bit more flour when we’re making gnocchi than in the case when we use only potatoes.
Altough I tried to make beetroot gnocchi only using beets, I wasn’t happy with the result. The ratio 1:1 of potatoes vs beets proved to be the best in my experience.
There are 3 main problems that can occur when you’re making gnocchi at home:
- Gnocchi becomes dissolved in water – your gnocchi started to fall apart when you put them in the boiling water. The gnocchi dough was probably too soft. Next time add some more flour.
- Gnocchi is gummy and chewy – Reverse problem. You have too much flour in the dough or you kneaded the dough for too long. Gnocchi isn’t pasta and we have to be careful not to develop too much gluten here.
- Your gnocchi is tasteless – it’s not seasoned properly. It probably lacks salt, either in the dough itself or in the cooking water.
Homemade beetroot gnocchi can be frozen if we want to. Always freeze them while they’re fresh, ie uncooked. After you made them, place them on a tray lined with parchment paper and put them in the freezer.
When the gnocchi is completely frozen, transfer them to a zip bag and write the date of freezing. Trust me, you don’t want to skip this step because in a few weeks you won’t remember when you froze them.
And that’s it!
When you want to cook them, you don’t need to defrost them. Just put them in the salted, boiling water and wait for them to bob to the surface.
I don’t like to keep beetroot gnocchi or any other homemade gnocchi in the freezer for more than 2 months.
The cooking time depends on their size, the ingredients we used in the dough, and whether they have been previously frozen. Fresh gnocchi is done quickly and they are done when they float at the surface of the boiling water. That can take approximately 2-6 minutes.
Also, cook them in the bigger pot and don’t put too much gnocchi at the same time, otherwise, it will take them longer to cook.
What is brown butter (beurre noisette)?
After I cooked beetroot gnocchi, I didn’t want to drown them in some overpowering sauce. I wanted them to be the star of my plate. So I thought that my Herbes de Provence and brown butter would be the perfect pairing for them!
Brown butter (beurre noisette) is prepared by heating the unsalted butter in a pan until it changes color to golden brown and starts smelling like hazelnuts. It will give even the most neutral food a fantastic taste and is perfect for flavoring veggies and gnocchi.
So yes, brown butter sauce can completely change your perception of gnocchi! Although it’s totally delicious on its own, I decided to add some blanched broccoli to this dish. Spinach, arugula, gorgonzola, or goat cheese would work great here too!
All I can say at the end of this post is that this beetroot gnocchi with brown butter sauce is out of this world so I hope you’ll try making this at home!
If you try this recipe, don’t forget to tag @foodandmoodblog on my Instagram account or send me the photos of your final dish! Your photos make me so happy! If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message on Instagram or contact me via my e-mail.
Cook with love,