On one of my recent road trips to Aroostook County, I listened to radio program on the preparation of Sweet Potato Gnocchi. Gnocchi, (pronounced NOH kee), is Italian for dumplings and they are traditionally made from potatoes, flour or farina. Often cheese, egg or finely chopped spinach is added to the dough.
Although I have often enjoyed version of gnocchi in restaurants, I have never attempted to cook them at home. The preparation on the radio sounded so easy, straightforward and delicious then I had to come right home and make them!
In my research, I learned that the word Italian word gnocco literally means a little lump, such as the one that might be raised by bumping your head against a hard object. Gastronomically speaking, gnocchi may look like lumps, but a well-made gnocchi is fluffy and light. The key lies in the potato and the addition of the flour.
Some potatoes absorb more flour than others. In this recipe, I used sweet potatoes and boiled them in water. You could also roast the sweet potato in a 400-degree oven, and then remove the skin and add the flour. Work carefully, and be careful not to overwork the dough.
A broad pot or pan with lots of surface area works best for cooking the dumplings. Try just a few at a time to get the knack of it, and be sure that the dough holds together. If the potatoes that you work with produce gnocchi dough that dissolves in the water when cooking, add an egg to the dough and incorporate a bit more flour. Serve with butter and Parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon salt (for the cooking water)
- 2 cups or so all purpose flour or whole-wheat pastry flour
- Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into chunks. In a large pot, cover with water and cook until they are tender. Drain the water and return the sweet potatoes to the pot. Shake the pot to evaporate any remaining water. Using a fork or a potato ricer, mash the sweet potatoes. There should be no lumps. Stir in ½ cup of flour. Continue stirring in the flour, small amounts at a time and allow the sweet potatoes to absorb it, until you have a soft dough. The amount of flour you need will vary. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Divide the dough into four sections. On a well-floured surface, roll out each piece of dough into a 1-inch thick “snake.” Cut into ½ inch pieces and place on a sheet pan covered with waxed paper. Drop a few dumplings in the boiling water and cook until they float to the surface. Allow to cook for 30 more seconds and then remove with a slotted spoon to a warm, buttered dish in the oven. Cook the remaining dumplings in batches. Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese. Makes 8 servings. If desired, freeze the uncooked gnocchi on a sheet pan and store in plastic bags in the freezer. Cook the same as fresh, just takes a bit longer.