Olive pillows of pasta.

Posted on November 10, 2011


Gnocchi done well is one of life’s more finer pleasures. What could pair better with gnocchi than olives? At first I thought that it would fail due to the high density of water, quite the contrary, I created perfect pillows of fluffy potato studded with Kalamata olives. Gnocchi should always be paired with a simple sauce, which is a concept which I try to uphold, Italian food is best kept simple. Paired with a sweet cherry tomato sauce, the flavours of the gnocchi can shine. This is quite simple to make, but requires your own sensibility to taste, touch and feel if the Gnocchi texture is correct. I will guide you and give you some pointers, but generally the best Gnocchi I have ever made is made by using my own cooking intuition.

Kalamata olive Gnocchi with a sweet cherry tomato sauce.


500g Desiree potatoes

1 Cup plain flour

Extra cup flour reserved

1 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan

2 large egg yolks

2 clove garlic chopped

1 onion chopped finely

500g cherry tomatoes (Vine ripened are best)

1 tbsp balsamic

2 tbsp castor sugar

1 heaped tbsp tomato paste

1 cup water or stock, extra reserved

270g Kalamata pitted olives, halved

2 anchovies, chopped

1 tbsp capers, chopped

Large handful basil leaves, extra to garnish

Salt and pepper to season

 Extra salt for boiling


  1. Chop half of the olives until they form a fine paste, add chopped anchovies and capers. Mix, reserve. Keep remaining halved olives for sauce.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add potatoes and 1 tbsp salt and boil until completely soft.
  3. Remove from heat, strain and peel skins while hot, use a potato ricer to mince potatoes, if you don’t own one, I have pushed the potatoes through a fine metal sieve and it’s worked out ok, alternatively mash the potatoes with a masher. Reserve.
  4. Heat olive oil over a medium heat in a skillet or pot, add garlic and onion and cook until soft and golden but not brown. Add sugar, tomato paste, olives, balsamic and tomatoes and mix to combine. Cook, stirring frequently until tomatoes are soft and coming out of skin, 5-10 mins.
  5. Add water/stock, turn heat to low, cover pot and cook for 15 mins, adding extra water if needed to keep a smooth consistency.
  6. Remove from heat and begin making gnocchi. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  7. Add parmesan and egg yolks to reserved potato, mix well, then add the finely chopped olives. Knead adding extra flour if the dough becomes too sticky. It should be smooth, not claggy. The addition of egg will make it exceptionally sticky, try to add enough extra flour so the dough is manageable.
  8. Flour the surface of a table, divide dough into 6-8 blocks, roll each block into 1/2 inch diameter medium cylinders.
  9. Using a knife, slice dough into 1/2 inch pieces. Dust with flour and put gnocchi on tray, not overlapping one another. Due to the addition of egg the gnocchi will easily lose shape when touched, it doesn’t matter in the long run, however if you want the particular ‘gnocchi’ shape, try not to move the gnocchi around too much.
  10. Add gnocchi to boiling water, stir at first to ensure the pieces do not stick together.
  11. When gnocchi floats to the surface it is done. Drain and add to cherry tomato sauce.
  12. Serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan and fresh basil leaves.
  • Do not overwork the dough or add too much flour, as the gnocchi will become hard.
  • These are quite large gnocchi, as I prefer a large piece with olives, but they can be made smaller if preferred.
  • Use a floury potato, preferably an old ones without any moisture.
  • Do not despair if they look ugly, garnish them with basil leaves and some freshly grated parmesan.
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