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!
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 1½ to 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- To serve
- 12 leaves fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Cook the sweet potatoes by pricking them with a fork and microwaving until tender and fully cooked (for us, it took about 20 minutes total, around 10 minutes per side, but the time depends on your microwave and the size of the potatoes). Insert a knife into the potato to test whether it is fully cooked. (Alternatively, bake the sweet potatoes for about 40 minutes at 450°F.)
- Let the potatoes cool until they can easily be handled. Then scoop the flesh from the skins into a bowl and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Add 1 egg, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, 1½ cups wheat flour, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix with a spoon and then knead until a dough forms. Gradually add additional flour until the dough comes together and is not sticky (we added an additional ½ cup; if it’s too sticky to roll out, add more flour!).
- Divide the dough in four parts, With your hands, roll out each dough piece into a long, skinny roll. Then cut off small parts of the dough to form the gnocchi, and re-roll them to look uniform. Use a fork to make 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.)
- 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.
- Thinly slice (chiffonade) 12 leaves fresh sage. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons 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 cheese and fresh ground black pepper.