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Sardinian Gnocchi with Pesto Genovese

Sardinian Gnocchi with Pesto Genovese

Gnocchi Pesto Recipe

A fusion of two distinct and celebrated culinary traditions, this recipe combines traditional Genoan pesto with Sardinian gnocchi.

‘Malloreddus’, the traditional pasta from Sardinia, takes its name from the Southern Sardinian word for ‘bull’, owing to its distinct shape and texture. Made from durum wheat semolina, it’s a true representation of Sardinian culinary heritage.

Pesto has been used since the Roman times. The recipe, as we know it today, dates back to the nineteenth century. Extra virgin olive oil, basil (brought by the Arabs in the Mediterranean), pine nuts and cheese, mixed together and pounded in a mortar, gave birth to one of the most famous and popular sauces in the world. A sauce that brings colors and flavors of the Italian Riviera.

Legend says there was a monastery near Genoa, where the creation of pesto took place by a priest at St. Basil’s. The priest, tired of the usual meal, picked up the basil growing around, combined it with the few ingredients offered by the faithful and mashed the ingredients together and created the first pesto.

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There are many regional variations of pesto across Italy, and while this specific recipe excludes garlic, it still captures the intensely delicious flavor of fresh basil.

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Gnocchi Pesto Recipe

Sardinian Gnocchi with Pesto Genovese

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  • Author: Veronica Lavenia
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x


Merging two renowned culinary traditions, this dish pairs the classic Genoan pesto with Sardinian gnocchi, or ‘Malloreddus’.


Units Scale
  • A fistful of fresh basil
  • 5 oz Sardinian gnocchi (160 g)
  • 2 oz grated Parmigiano cheese (50 g)
  • 2 oz grated Pecorino cheese (50 g)
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 78 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of sea salt


Preparing the Pesto:

  • Wash the Basil: Begin by thoroughly washing the basil leaves. Once washed, pat them dry using a kitchen towel.
  • Blend the Ingredients: Place the clean basil leaves in a blender. Add the grated Parmigiano cheese, grated Pecorino cheese, pine nuts, and 7-8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Blend until smooth.
  • Adjust Consistency: If you desire a thinner texture for your pesto, you can add more olive oil and blend again until you reach the desired consistency.

Cooking the Gnocchi:

  • Boil Water: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  • Cook the Gnocchi: Add the Sardinian gnocchi to the boiling water and cook according to the instructions on the package, ensuring they are cooked al dente.
  • Drain: Once the gnocchi is cooked, drain the water.

Combining the Gnocchi and Pesto:

  • Dilute the Pesto: If the pesto is too thick, dilute it with a bit of the water you used for cooking the gnocchi until it reaches a sauce-like consistency.
  • Toss Gnocchi with Pesto: Place the cooked gnocchi in a large bowl and pour the pesto sauce over it. Toss well to ensure each gnocchi is coated with the pesto.
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Italian
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