Beet and Potato Gnocchi with Mint Hazelnut Pesto

by Jen on March 20, 2012

So, I’ve had one of those ‘a-ha!’ moments today! You know, those times when whatever it was you were stressing about is put to rest because you have come into a realization?

Well, I have been obsessing stressing out about my food photographs on the web. I recently started shooting in RAW format (with lots to learn still), but then realized that the quality of my photographs was different – more washed out, if you may – when seen on the web. This inconsistency drove me crazy!

Then, I learned – thanks to Lara Ferroni‘s Food Photography book – that I needed to edit my settings in Photoshop “Convert to Profile” function. I’m a Mac user and I edit on Photoshop with Adobe RGB (1998) color profile (something I just learned now). Sure, my images look good on my finder and my Photoshop, but when I look at them from the browser, there were obvious disparities. Lara’s advice was to stick to a more generic color profile like sRGB or Generic RGB – and so I changed my settings, and I really noticed the difference! Now the dilemma is…should I go back to each image and convert every one of them? Oh boy, that’s going to be a big job!

That was my ‘a-ha!” moment of the day, but let’s move on to food!

I’ve only recently started appreciating beets. Here’s a creative way to cook them. Make sure to use fresh beets for this recipe. Oh, by the way, this recipe is also gluten free!

My kids love the brilliant colour of beets. In fact, it is the beets’ brilliant colour that reflects the richness of their phytonutrients (betalaine), which have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties. Beets are a key player in “juicing” and preventing cancer.

The best way to preserve the nutrients and enzymes in these root vegetables is to cook them no longer than 15 minutes. However, my kids refuse to touch them when prepared this way. They are more likely to eat beets when made into gnocchi with potatoes. Mixing potatoes will help cut the beet’s earthy taste, making it more palatable for kids and non-believers.

As you can see, a former cynic (me) is now a converted believer! If you haven’t tried beets, this is a good introduction!

4.8 from 5 reviews
Beet and Potato Gnocchi with Mint Hazelnut Pesto
Recipe Type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 7 oz cooked beets, peeled and diced
  • 14 oz baking potatoes like russet, peeled
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon brown rice flour (or white)
  • ⅓ cup potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnut flour
  • 1 egg
  • ~~ For the pesto ~~
  • 2 cups packed mint leaves
  • ⅓ cup hard Italian cheese, such as Parmigiano or Pecorino
  • ⅓ cup hazelnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • hazelnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Wrap the beets in foil and bake them in 375 degrees F oven until cooked, about 45 minutes or until a tester can easily be inserted. Let cool before peeling the skins off. Set aside.
  2. Boil the potatoes until cooked, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool before peeling the skins off.
  3. With a ricer, mash the potatoes with the beets. If you don't have a ricer, try running them through a fine mesh sieve. Combine the mashed vegetables in a bowl.
  4. In another bowl, combine all the flours with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
  5. Add the mashed potatoes and beets, then the egg.
  6. Mix until just combines and turn dough out to a floured work area.
  7. Shape the dough until it forms a ball that is somewhat wet still. Do not over mix or add too much flour in.
  8. Divide the dough in 4 pieces and roll each into a log.
  9. Cut into small pieces and if preferred, roll on a fork or gnocchi paddle to make a design. At this point, you can freeze the prepared gnocchi for future use.
  10. If preparing now, drop gnocchi in salted boiling water until they rise to the surface.
  11. Scoop out and set aside on a plate.
  12. For the pesto, put the mint, cheese, hazelnuts, and garlic in the food processor.
  13. Pulse on high a few times until chopped, then stream the desired amount of oil through the feeder and whirl until puréed.
  14. Season pesto with salt and pepper.
  15. To serve, sauté the gnocchi with olive oil in a pan set to medium heat. Turn to a plate when heated and serve immediately.
  16. Spoon pesto on top or serve it on the side.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella March 20, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Jen, they’re gorgeous and I found the exact same thing with my Raw files. But it was worse depending on the colours I was shooting. Thanks for the tip and lovely photos here! :D


Jenn March 21, 2012 at 7:21 am

Ha I remember coming to that realization… color space is SO important! These gnocchi look lovely, and fantastic that they are gluten free!


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:43 am

Jenn, I’ve seen the light…so to speak! Hehehe.


Sandra's Easy Cooking March 21, 2012 at 10:31 am

Wow..those look fantastic! I love gnocchi and I loveeee beets..what a great idea to combine both! Your photos are beautiful!!!


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:44 am

Yes, a perfect combo! What else can you ask for! The best of two worlds :)


Priscilla @ShesCookin March 21, 2012 at 11:50 am

Over my head, but glad you had that “aha” moment and I’ll keep this in mind when I do start shooting in RAW, I recently bought Lightroom 3 and am trying to learn that *sigh*. Gorgeous gnocchi- I’ve been wanting to try my hand at gnocchi, but need to buy a ricer (I don’t trust the results of using a sieve)!


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:42 am

Heehee, there was a time when people talked about RAW and I’ll shake in my boots…I only just started feeling better about it when I actually dove in to use it. I guess this is the stage where I make my mistakes and learn from them!


Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts March 21, 2012 at 11:50 am

I don’t have much experience with beets. Mainly the canned kind you find on a salad bar, and those are just gross! This is such a pretty dish!


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:34 am

Yuck, the canned ones…I know, so gross!


Patty March 21, 2012 at 12:10 pm

We love beets too! This is such a special recipe and your photos are so pretty, the colors look just vibrant;-)


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:34 am

Thanks, Patty. Hope you can try the recipe.


Valerie March 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Who knew monitors were so finicky? I don’t have PS, but I love Pixlr because it’s free, and easy to use for someone who is easily confused. With all this “color” business, I think I’m just going to have to go back to my old method of taking 500 photos and hoping that 1 or 2 of them will look pretty. :D

I adore root vegetables! Not only are they healthy, but they actually taste great. This recipe sounds delicious!
Love the new site too!!


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:33 am

Yes, thank heavens for Pixlr :) I use it too when I’m blogging away from my computer! I also take a gazillion of photos and hope there is that one (or two or three) hero shot(s) that I am not ashamed to post.


Magic of Spice March 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I have only just started playing around with Raw…yes, so much to learn. These photos look vibrant and wonderful though :) And as for the dish, love beets and love this gorgeous recipe!


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:21 am

Thanks :) Hope you are able to try this recipe. If you do, let me know what you think of it!


Roxana GreenGirl { A little bit of everything} March 21, 2012 at 9:27 pm

I’m so looking forward to my a-ha moment when I actually learn hot to use Lightroom and/or Photoshop. It might take me years.
I love beets and your salad is so light and delicious!


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:19 am

Roxana, I know what you are saying!! So much to learn…


Maya@Foodiva's Kitchen March 21, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Your beet dish looks so pretty and I love the flavors of the vegetable and the pesto! I’ve yet to achieve that a-ha moment when it comes to my photos…so I’ll just plod on happily with what I do have and know right now :).


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:18 am

Thanks, Maya. Glad you liked it. By the way, your photos are already lovely!


Tina Ong (@PhenomenalMama) March 21, 2012 at 10:36 pm

I would like to try this with my kids this summer. Maybe just plain potatoes for us as beets are hardly seen in the local grocery/market.


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:17 am

Tina, yes, if you don’t find fresh beets, just use potatoes; it works just as well and the they taste just as good!


Suzanne March 21, 2012 at 11:59 pm

I would not go back over all your old photos, I thought they looked good before. Your dish looks so nice, I hate to admit but never had a fresh beet, but I am seriously thinking about trying to cook some asap :)


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:14 am

Suzanne, when you try your first fresh beet, write about it :) I would love to hear what you think!


Jonathan March 22, 2012 at 12:06 am

I love how vibrant these look! And if the beets and gnocchi weren’t already enough, you had to throw in a mint/hazelnut double whammy to seal the deal. Delicious. :)

I am so glad you left a comment on my blog, Jen. I am positively swooning over yours.


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:12 am

Thanks, Jonathan. Love your gluten-free recipes on your blog!


Liren March 22, 2012 at 1:23 am

Hmm, I need to check my settings! Love the color of these gnocchi. Yum!


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:11 am

Liren, I just found out my settings recently…oh well, so much more to learn. I wonder what else I am missing on? LOL.


Nami | Just One Cookbook March 22, 2012 at 2:27 am

Which photos you are talking about? I was browsing your posts before but never realized such washed out pictures… I was just mesmerized by how beautiful your photography is… (I was in your world…haha). I absolutely love beets but never had it with gnocchi. Very lovely pictures and feel the spring from your post!


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:10 am

You are too kind, Nami. I appreciate your support. It’s really great to have met you online. Hope to connect with you often!


Kevin Kirshner March 22, 2012 at 7:45 am

Hey just found your blog and post thanks to Pinterest of course. Love the Med-Chicken, and here at home we enjoy beets along with other squashes and root veggies roasted while drizzled with some olive oil and fresh herbs………the multi-colored offering is a delight and the beets just become another color and taste in the bowl.

As the photoshop tip and your photography – I was put off slightly by the stained silver fork in your shot – i realize it is oxidation and not dirty food – however it is a distraction from your otherwise bright offering.


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:08 am

Hello, Kevin! Thank you, thank you very much for your feedback! I like honest critique because it helps me see things that I may have missed! Appreciate it :) Thanks for visiting; hope you’ll be back for more recipes and food shot!


Jean | Lemons and Anchovies March 22, 2012 at 10:06 am

Jen, your images have always looked good to me but I understand what you mean here. I’ve been shooting in RAW for the better part of two years but it wasn’t until I picked up a certain book that I was really able to utilize the features of my camera.

As for your conundrum about going back to edit your old images–I just finished resizing two years worth of images and reloaded on my site. I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone and besides, your images are already great! :)

Your beet/potato gnocchi are gorgeous, gorgeous! I’ve made them with purple yam–I think these are even more beautiful!


Jen March 23, 2012 at 10:07 am

Jean, I have so much more to learn in food photography. I have signed up for Aran (Cannelle et Vanille) Goyoaga’s workshop in Montreal this June! Can’t wait to learn from her!


Ces March 23, 2012 at 9:34 am

Your photos look great as always. Can’t really tell the difference since I don’t know much about photography. All I know is that photos of your recipes always make me hungry. :)


Mark Wiens March 23, 2012 at 10:26 am

That looks beautiful Jen! I hadn’t eaten beats much until traveling to Sri Lanka where I ate beat curry nearly everyday. It’s such a unique flavor and now I love the taste and all the properties of any dish made with beats. These gnocchis look fantastic!


Andi March 23, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Yum yum yum!!!!!!!! Love the colors!


Kristi Rimkus March 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I’m a recent convert to the pleasures of beets. What a terrific idea (fun too) to add them to gnocchi!


amanda March 27, 2012 at 10:46 am

I “discovered” beets a couple of years ago and haven’t turned back! I recently went gluten-free, so I will definitely try this recipe SOON! Sometimes I buy golden beets when I don’t feel like staining my hands in the peeling process. They’re still very delicious. Thanks for the recipe!


Jennifer (Delicieux) March 27, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Sounds like I am going to have to get my hands on Laura’s book. Thanks for the tip!

Your gnocchi looks fabulous! I absolutely adore beets, and love their beautiful colour, which makes this dish so pretty. Your pesto sounds fabulous too. I’m a huge lover of pesto and always have some in the fridge. I’ll have to try your mint and hazelnut combination.


Roberta May 25, 2013 at 11:31 pm

I tried them today and they turned out so good! :D
I took inspiration from your recipe and adapted at what I had home. Plus went absolutely random with the quantities ahah they turned out sooo purple! loved them :-))


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