This was our first homemade gnocchi, made on a blustery dark Sunday afternoon.
When I’ve been curious about women (and men) who make their own gnocchi, I imagined little old grandmas in faraway picturesque Italian countrysides, in sunny kitchens overlooking spetacular Mediterranean farmlands and vineyards, and rolling hills.
Yet, here we were in a tiny kitchen on a gloomy rain soaked street making gnocchi.
It was like baking for me; the process of mixing, kneading, rolling and cutting of dough, and finally, waiting patiently for the gnocchi to rise to the top of the bubbling pot of water… felt soothing.
It’s almost cathartic, especially on a moody day while music filters in from the living room; a resonant crooner sings of church, when really it’s a metaphor for sexuality.
The December issue of Bon Appetit had a simple gnocchi recipe that looked intriguing.
Our version starts with baking in-season sweet potatoes, sprinkle in some whole-wheat pastry flour, knead until soft and doughy and then we roll and cut them into tiny little pieces.
We toss them into a pot of boiling water and excitingly watch them rise to the top – that’s how you know they’re done!
You could say our first sweet potato gnocchi attempt was a success; it’s baffling how easy it is to make, and how deeply rewarding it feels to sit down to a bowl of gnocchi you’ve made from scratch – gnocchi making could perhaps be a metaphor for a moment in contentment.
It’s great with a simple pesto or tossed with your favourite pasta sauce. We started eating them as soon as the first batch came off the fire and couldn’t stop!
Another thing it has going for it, is that it freezes well, so huge batches can be made at a time and some saved for later.
We froze a portion of ours uncooked, thawed them in the fridge when we were ready and baked them in the oven this time as an experiment. We drenched them in tangy tomato sauce, this was delicious too.
I think I’ll take a few more rainy afternoons for making gnocchi.
I want to try many variations of it; with purple potatoes perhaps or maybe use buckwheat flour instead…
- 3 pounds medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and patted dry
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon kosher sea salt
- 1 - 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus more for work surface
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. F.
- Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork and bake on a parchment (or foil) lined tray and bake until very tender – 45 mins to 1 hrs depending on size of potatoes
- Cool slightly when done, cut in half and scoop the insides into a large bowl, discard the skins
- Marsh sweet potatoes until smooth and free of lumps, add nutmeg and salt
- Sprinkle with flour a little at a time and knead until a soft dough is formed, use more or less flour as desired
- Lightly flour your hands and work surface, and transfer dough onto the floured work surface
- Knead dough a few more times and divide into 6 portions
- Roll each portion into a long, compact 1-inch thick rope and cut each rope into 1-inch pieces
- Transfer the cut gnocchi into a large baking sheet or tray and continue with the remaining gnocchi
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat
- Working in 4 batches, Add the gnocchi to the boiling water, allow them to cook until they float to the surface, about 3 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer cooked gnocchi onto a baking sheet or tray; cover with foil to keep warm and continue with remaining gnocchi
- Serve with pesto or tomato sauce, or your favourite pasta sauce
- You can use the scale at the produce section of your grocery store to measure weight of sweet potatoes
- Regular whole wheat flour or all-purpose white flour can be used in this recipe
- When roasting potatoes, you can check for doneness by sliding a toothpick into the potatoes, if it goes through easily (without any resistance) the potatoes are done
- Let gnocchi sit for a few minutes before serving to allow the taste and texture to develop further