In this recipe, beet-and-potato gnocchi is cut into heart shapes and then served over a pesto made with watercress and walnuts. The pesto is light in flavor, allowing you to experience the full flavor of the earthy beets. This dish is the perfect way to indulge in something unique with somebody you love.

Heart-Shaped Beet Gnocchi With Watercress Pesto [Vegan]



For the Gnocchi:

  • 2 2/3 cups of peeled beets
  • 2 1/2 medium potatoes
  • 1-2 cups plain white flour

For the Pesto:

  • 1 bunch of watercress
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


To Make the Gnocchi:

  1. Wrap the peeled beets in foil and place in the oven. Bake them at 400°F for about 45 minutes.
  2. Boil your potatoes until soft, about 20 minutes. When they are ready, mash them and leave them in a bowl to cool.
  3. By now, your beets will be nearly ready. You are aiming for it to be soft throughout, but not caramelised and melty. Don’t worry too much, though, because any undercooked or overcooked hard bits will just end up as chunks in the mixture.
  4. When it's ready, leave the beet to cool for a bit before putting it in the food processor and puréeing it. Be careful — if a lot of steam is escaping, open the lid to let it out and leave it to cool for a little while longer. Your mixture shouldn’t be completely liquid; it should be gritty, with lots of small chunks to add texture.
  5. Add the beet to the mashed potato and use a wooden spoon to combine.  Start to add flour, a handful at a time, mixing with your hands to form a dough.
  6. The amount of flour you ultimately need will depend on how much moisture there is in your mixture, which can be influenced by many things; what type of potatoes you used and your technique for mashing them, how much your beet liquidized, how much moisture there is in the air, how long they were left to cool down, etc... You only want as much flour as is required to make a workable dough. As soon as you are able to roll the dough without it sticking everywhere, stop adding the flour. No sooner, no later.
  7. Now, its time to shape the dough. Roll this dough into sausages, slice into little pieces, and place in a container with a lid. Line the gnocchi into rows, stacked with parchment paper to divide them. They will last a while in the freezer, and when you want to eat them, you can just throw the frozen gnocchi straight into boiling water.
  8. Roll out the dough on a chopping board, keeping it fairly thick. If you have heart-shaped cookie cutters, your job is going to be easy. Otherwise, use a knife to cut out heart-shaped gnocchi.
  9. Place the hearts in boiling water. After a couple of minutes, they will float. Leave them for another minute and then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  10. Your last step is to pan-fry the gnocchi. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, and toss it into the pan. Cook for a minute, flip over, and leave for another minute, maximum, just to get a slightly crispy outside.
  11. Serve over the pesto.

To Make the Pesto:

  1. Make the pesto by pulsing all the ingredients in a food processor. Scoop the prepared pesto into a bowl and set aside.