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.
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)
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.