I have ways loved first courses more than any other part of the meal. Give me pasta, risotto or gnocchi any day over a meaty main course. They are also the meals I most enjoy cooking – making pasta and gnocchi from scratch is so rewarding. I have been experimenting with gluten free gnocchi recipes since making GF potato gnocchi and this time I decided to try making them with sweet potato (known as patata dolce in Italian). I based my recipe on one that I found on a great food blog that I follow called italian food forever. The recipe combines sweet potatoes with ricotta to make gnocchi – it sounded and looked delightful.
To make the gnocchi gluten free, I used an off the shelf gluten free flour containing rice flour, maize starch, tapioca flour and rice bran. I modified the original recipe by adding parmigiano to the dough (to make it a bit less wet and as an alternative to adding more flour, which can make the gnocchi rubbery) and a good pinch of nutmeg, which goes so well with sweet potato. Adding ricotta to the dough is brilliant as it gives the gnocchi a lovely consistency which you would not get with sweet potato alone. It made a delicious meal – the sweetness of the gnocchi was complemented by a sage burnt butter sauce. And it went down well with a glass of Clare Valley Riesling. The gnocchi were moist but stayed together perfectly – you would never guess they were gluten free.
Sweet potato and ricotta gnocchi
800g sweet potatoes
1 egg yolk (medium)
1 tsp salt
Large pinch nutmeg
75g grated parmigiano cheese
1 1/2 – 2 cups gluten free flour (plus extra for dusting and rolling if needed)
120g unsalted butter
24 sage leaves
Heat the oven to 200 degrees and bake the whole sweet potatoes for 45 – 60 minutes (depending on size) until soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven, peel (or scoop out the flesh from the halved potatoes) and put through a potato ricer when slightly cooled. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, cheese, salt, nutmeg and egg yolk, adding the mashed sweet potato last. Mix until homogenous.
Add a cup of the flour to the potato mixture in the bowl and gently mix until well incorporated. Add another 1/2 cup of flour and check the consistency. The dough should be soft but cohesive. Prepare some baking paper on the kitchen bench and scatter some flour on it and place the potato mixture, which you will have made into a ball, onto the paper (this is to save you making a mess of your kitchen bench). If the mixture is. It coming together, add a other quarter cup of flour.
Using a butter knife, cut off a chuck of dough and roll into a long sausage, incorporating more flour if needed and rolling in a bit more flour. The secret is to incorporate just as much flour as you need to keep the dough together but not too much to make the gnocchi rubbery. Taste and adjust for salt. Cut into bite size pieces (and roll on the back of the fork if you like). Try to cook one in a large pot with plenty of boiling salted water. It will be ready when it rises to the surface. This is a way to test and see if the dough stays together when cooked. If it falls apart, then you will need to add more flour.
Once you are happy with the consistency, repeat until all the gnocchi are made. Place prepared gnocchi on sheets of baking paper, and cover the trays with a clean tea towel or cling wrap to stop the gnocchi from drying out. You can make these several hours in advance and place them in the fridge until needed. To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add about half the gnocchi at a time, placing them in the water a couple at a time (don’t throw them in all at once or you may end up with potato mash!). The gnocchi are cooked when they rise to the surface (takes a few minutes). Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place in warmed plates. Cook the remaining gnocchi in the same water once it has come to the boil again. Spoon the burnt butter sauce over the cooked gnocchi (see below) and divide the sage leaves evenly among the plates. Scatter on plenty of grated parmigiano .
To make burnt butter, place the butter in a smallish frypan. Start this whilst the water for the gnocchi is close to boiling. Cook on low- medium heat until melted, then add the sage leaves. Cook for about 5 minutes until the butter browns and the sage leaves are crisp.