Do you know gnocchi?
(OK, I’ll admit I really wanted to write do you gnow gnocchi…but that would prove I spend much too much time around my husband.)
Gnocchi hold a special place in our hearts. We first ate them together on our honeymoon in Rome, and they were one of the first things we learned to cook together. (We also finally learned how to pronounce the word correctly: nyo-key – the “gn” is like the lasagna – I have to think of that every time I say it.)
Whatever the case, gnocchi are incredibly delicious Italian dumplings. They’re generally made of white potatoes, but can also be made with flour or ricotta.
You can buy them packaged, and they’re quite delicious. However, if you have a bit of time to spare (perhaps on a weekend), it’s worth the effort to make them yourself! This is a perfect “project” to try with a special someone, or with kids in the kitchen. And, we’ve tried to simplify the process so that the “project” shouldn’t end up taking more than an hour or two – though to do so you may have to (gasp!) use your microwave in the process.
I’ve also substituted one of my one of my favorite ingredients – sweet potatoes – for the standard baking potato. Sweet potatoes are incredibly good for you (one of the best foods you can eat!), and add just a twinge of sweetness to the recipe, along with tons of health benefits. Since we generally prefer savory preparations, we’ve simply prepared them here sauteed in olive oil, with a bit of sage and topped with lots of parmesan.
If you have the chance, give them a try – they’re a wonderful treat for a special meal!
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Serves about 4
What You Need
For the gnocchi
2 large sweet potatoes (about 1 pound each, but can be less)
1 1/2 to 2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh sage (or dried as a substitute)
What To Do
1 Cook the sweet potatoes: The microwave actually works great for the potatoes in this recipe! Prick them with a fork and then microwave until tender and cooked all the way through. For us, it took about 20 minutes total, around 10 minutes per side. However, the time will depend on your microwave and how big your potatoes are. Insert a knife into the potato to test for its doneness. (If you are against microwaves or don’t have one, you can also bake for about 40 minutes at 450°F.)
2 Mix the dough: Let the potatoes cool until you can handle them. Then scoop them from the skins into a bowl (or remove the skins if they peel easily). Mash them with a potato masher until smooth. Then add 1 egg, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and about 1 1/2 cups wheat flour. Mix with a spoon and then kneed until a dough forms. Then gradually add additional flour until the dough is not sticky – we added up to 1/2 cup for ours, so you may have to add a fair amount of extra flour to get it to a workable state. If it’s too sticky to roll out – add more flour!
3 Make the gnocchi: Divide the dough in four parts, Using your hands, roll out each piece into a very long, skinny roll. Then cut off small parts of the dough to form the gnocchi (we re-rolled them here so they looked uniform). If desired, use a fork to add an impression on the top of each gnocchi. Place the gnocchi on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. From here you can freeze them, or immediately boil and prepare them as described below. (If you freeze them, you can boil them right out of the freezer.)
4 Boil the gnocchi: When ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Then boil the gnocchi (in batches if necessary) until they float, about 5 minutes.
5 Prepare the gnocchi: There are many sauces that go well with gnocchi, including tomato sauce, or a cream or cheese-based sauce. However, we found the following simple preparation to be delicious: Chiffonade some fresh sage (or substitute a teaspoon or two dried). In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add the gnocchi, sage, and a bit of kosher salt and heat for several minutes, until slightly browned. Serve immediately, topped with fresh grated parmesan and a bit of fresh ground pepper.