Week 3: Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Week 3: Sweet Potato Gnocchi

The first time I had gnocchi was when I worked at an Italian restaurant in Halifax, and I was blown away by these pillows of pasta perfection. How had I been missing out on these my whole life?! Unfortunately for me, my expectations were set high and store-bought gnocchi was sadly disappointing. At work I lingered close to the kitchen when the gnocchi were being made and asked what was probably way too many questions (sorry!) in hopes of replicating this pasta delight at home. I tried a few times but mine were never as good, and considering how much time went into making them… I sort of gave up.

I’ve had a few gnocchi recipes bookmarked for a while, in hopes that one day I’d revisit this challenge. I adore sweet potatoes so subbing them in seemed like a fun twist, and a big winter storm made for the perfect opportunity to give these a try. Also, I no longer live in Halifax and have been craving some good gnocchi. Click here for sweet potato gnocchi with herbed white wine pan sauce recipe from Half Baked Harvest.

Ingredients: had to pick up a few things at the grocery store (ricotta, fresh herbs, manchego cheese) but nothing was overly expensive or hard to find.

Timing: so… I kind of dawdled, had a snack, got distracted, ran out of flour and had to beg someone to pick some up for me, got tired of rolling pasta and started drinking wine, etc. so this recipe took me quite a while (maybe 3 hours start to finish? But that’s probably partly my fault… 2 hours would be more realistic). Also, I doubled the recipe so we would have leftovers to freeze, which added to the prep time. Not exactly a fast and easy weeknight meal but MAN was this delicious and perfect for a weekend snow day (or if you have a bit of free time and are trying to impress somebody).

Yield: 5-6 portions, as stated. I doubled the recipe and froze the second batch so I have lots leftover. Gnocchi typically freezes very well.

Serving: was planning to serve this with a side salad, which would be a lovely complement and make this dinner more of a complete meal (but I ran out of time and skipped it). This pasta would be nice with some roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts on top too.

See my adorable assistant resting in the background?

How did it go? Although this took me a long time, it turned out really well. Things like picking thyme leaves off the stems seems to take forever and I find it tedious, does anyone have any tips for a better/faster way to do this? To mash the potatoes, I used a ricer and maybe mine is crummy but this was a little messy and time consuming. However, I like that the potatoes are evenly mashed with no big chunks. I had a hard time determining how much was enough flour, but I think you’re supposed to air on the side of less vs more for lighter texture so I stuck with that. I had a bit of a hard time actually rolling the gnocchi on my counter but I don’t know why. The sauce was super easy and straightforward though! I cooked the gnocchi in three batches so as not to overcrowd the pot or pan.

Taste: These were DELICIOUS. Do they replicate a Mano’s pillows of pasta perfection in texture? Not quite, no. Do the flavours sing and make my heart happy? 100%. The manchego cheese adds a nice sharp touch and melted slightly atop the hot pasta. The sauce was flavourful and surprisingly not too heavy. A hearty, satisfying bowl on a cold winter day.

Tips: chop the shallot and herbs for the sauce while the potatoes are baking in the oven. Don’t overwork the dough to avoid overly chewy gnocchi. Use lots of flour on the baking sheet to avoid having the gnocchi stick/meld together on the tray. You can toss them in a fine mesh sieve to get rid of extra flour before you cook them. Cook them in batches (I did three batches for one recipe) so as not to overcrowd the gnocchi and ensure they crisp up in the pan.

Wine pairing: I picked up a bottle of French Sauvignon Blanc for both the sauce and the wine pairing with the meal. The acidity of the wine cuts through the fattiness of the butter sauce. The ripe orchard fruit notes and a hint of grassiness complement the sweetness of the sweet potato and the earthiness of the dish. I chose the Domaine Jacky Marteau Sauvignon Touraine 2017 for $15.95 at the LCBO.

Luke’s review: Nice texture, very buttery, light, fluffy, rosemary, bellissimo. The dish gets better with every bite. Wine goes well with gnocchi. Cheese – good. Just had a triple threat bite. Mouth is dancing from the flavour bomb. Life is worth living. Colour is divine. I would pay upwards of $20 for this dish.

Luke’s recipe rating: two thumbs up!

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