Every so often I want to kick dinner up a notch and make a pasta dish beyond the typical spaghetti. We have really fallen in love with gnocchi so when I saw it in the fresh pasta section of Whole Foods Market I knew it was perfect, because good gnocchi to make at home is hard to come by.
In one of our meal delivery boxes we had an avocado pesto pasta and I knew I wanted to recreate that with this ricotta gnocchi. We have recreated this a few times with grilled chicken, and other pastas and it has become a favorite, even my two year old loves it! It would also be great on just about any pasta. Also did I mention it’s nut free?
One major important ingredient to any pesto is the Olive Oil. I have always thought most Olive Oils were all the same. Though I can tell the difference in some compared to others, I have honestly never paid much attention to where they were from. Olive Oil is a staple in our kitchen and we use it almost daily. Did you know that European Olive Oils are different and the best varieties out there. I will be honest I had no idea, but I do now thanks to the Flavor Your Life Campaign.
The Flavor Your Life campaigns goal is to educate North American consumers about authentic European extra virgin olive oils. It is funded by the European Union, the Italian government, and a consortium of European extra virgin olive oil producers to empower consumers and share inspiring recipes that use this liquid gold in cooking everyday.
Some Facts about Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Olive Oil comes from the fruit of the Olea europaea plant, also known as the European Olive
- EVOO is acidity free as it is below 0.8%
- EVOO has a high smoke point (400 F) so you can bake, lightly saute and even fry.
- You should never store on the counter or beside the stove but in a cool dark place between uses and it should never go in the refrigerator.
European Olive Oils offer many variety of flavors depending on types of Olive trees, the region, the soil and even the climate. European Olives are harvested at the end of the fruits season which is late November to December which means they are over-ripe and have a more mild and buttery flavor. European Olive Oils from different countries have different color tones, and flavors. For this dish I cooked with Zucchi Italian Olive Oil, and Italian oils tend to have darker green herbal aroma and grassy flavor. I could definitely tell the difference it made in my Avocado Pesto.
Here’s what you need to create this dish at home. It is super quick and easy, and the pesto is sure to become a favorite in your house!
1/3 cup Fresh Basil
2 garlic cloves
1/3 Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I used Zucchi EVOO
Gnocchi or any pasta
1/2-1lb of Italian Chicken Sausage (optional)
To start cook the chicken sausage in your skillet. While it cooks start on your pesto.
Cut and deseed your avocado and add to blender or food processor. Add in 4 tablespoons of Olive Oil, 1/3 cup of fresh chopped basil, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of water, the juice from half a lemon, 1 tsp of salt and pepper. Blend until you get a thick consistency and set aside.
Cook your pasta or gnocchi according to directions. Gnocchi takes a very short amount of time.
Your chicken sausage should be cooked by now, drain any extra oil from pan and turn heat to warm or low.
Once your gnocchi is complete, drain saving 1/3 cup of pasta water add to pan with the sausage. Then add in the pesto and reserve pasta water. You may want to add additional salt and pepper but that’s totally up to your taste.
I grabbed this beautiful Epi bread from a local bakery in town to go with our meal. It’s pulls apart into individual servings. I made a dip for the with the EVOO, parmesan cheese, and fresh Italian Herbs. I also paired my dinner with this Rosé of Malbec, which I highly recommend.
I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as we do. Share with me the different ways you use the pesto!