Gnocchi with Walnut Sauce (Gnocchi in Salsa di Noci)

Mimi’s post about gnocchi in a walnut cream sauce inspired me to try my own version. Instead of a sauce with cream, I made the classic Ligurian walnut sauce with milk, day-old bread, garlic, marjoram, and olive oil. The sauce has a nice full walnut flavor that works very well with the sweetness of the potato gnocchi. Thanks for the idea, Mimi! 

I read various Italian recipes for salsa di noci, and noted that most of them are based on walnuts that are sold in the shell. When you take a walnut out of the shell, there is still a brown skin around the kernels. This brown skin is very hard to remove, even after blanching the walnuts as per those same Italian recipes. So this was the first and last time I tried this with walnuts still in the shell, and from now on I will use walnuts that are already peeled. To improve the flavor, it works much better to toast the walnuts in the oven than to use fresh ones.

The sauce is very easy to make: just use a blender to change the ingredients into a smooth sauce. The traditional way is with mortar and pestle, which is a lot more work.


For 2 servings

homemade potato gnocchi, made from 400 grams potatoes and 100 grams 00 flour

125 grams (1 1/2 cups) walnut kernels

30 grams (3 Tbsp) pine kernels

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

20 grams (2 Tbsp) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, plus more for garnish

125 ml (1/2 cup) milk

20 grams day-old white bread (about 1 slice)

1 sprig fresh marjoram (or a pinch of dried marjoram)



Toast the walnut kernels in the oven for 10 minutes at 150ºC/300ºF.

Cut the bread into cubes and soak it in the milk.

Drain the bread, reserving the milk.

Combine the walnuts, pine nuts, garlic, marjoram, cheese, soaked bread and olive oil in the bowl of your blender or food processor.

Process until finely ground.

Add the milk.

Process again.

Process until the sauce is smooth. Add some more olive oil if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.

Boil the gnocchi in salted water until they float. Since I like to serve the dish warm, I warm up the sauce just a bit in a non-stick pan over very low heat and then add the gnocchi and just a bit of the cooking water.

Gently toss the gnocchi with the walnut sauce without mashing the gnocchi.

Serve on warm plates, sprinkled with some more parmigiano.

14 thoughts on “Gnocchi with Walnut Sauce (Gnocchi in Salsa di Noci)

  1. Am on entirely new ground with this sauce, but am certainly going to try. Shall also try figure out how else to use this beauty: I rarely eat potatoes, tho’ gnocchi are a sometime weakness!!


    1. The sauce will work wonderfully on any kind of pasta as well. The traditional pasta to serve it with is pansotti, ravioli stuffed with greens and cheese. I will do a post on that soon.


  2. Love your walnut sauce! I made the potato gnocchi just with potato, potato flour, egg and salt. They were a great success. Perhaps not quite as tender as using wheat flour, but I’ll work on it some more!


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