The Recipes

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pesto

Dinners with friends are just one of the best parts of the week, especially my friends Ricky and Kristin.  Kristin wanted to try her hand at making gnocchi because she had a bunch of potatoes to use up, so off my food mill and I went over to their house.

Making gnocchi makes a mess and is a bit of an undertaking, so make a lot.  You can freeze any extra and boil them straight from the freezer the next time you're craving something comforting.  Just make sure you freeze them separately on a baking sheet and then dump them into freezer bags.  If you don't do that, you'll end up with a huge bunch of gnocchi stuck together.

We used some pesto that I had already made, but feel free to take at least one little assist from the store and buy a container.  If you're feeling ambitious, just pop 2 c. of herbs, 2 garlic cloves, lemon zest, and 1/2 c. nuts into a food processor and slowly drizzle in olive oil to make it chunky.  Season with salt and pepper.

This is also a great way to put sweet potatoes on your Thanksgiving table in a nontraditional way, and easy for day-of preparation because you can make them so far in advance.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Serves: 3-6     Time: Pour a glass of wine.  This is going to take a while.  Difficulty: Medium

INGREDIENTS:

- 4 sweet potatoes

- 1 egg, beaten

- 3-4 c. flour

- salt

- 1/2 c. pesto

- parmiagano reggiano cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Poke the potatoes several times with a fork and bake them for 1 hour.  While they are still hot, peel the potatoes.  Pass them through a potato ricer or food mill onto a large pan.  Transfer the pan to the refrigerator - to have light gnocchi, you need the potatoes to be cold.

Sprinkle flour on a work surface.  Add the cooled potatoes.  Season them with salt, and make a well in the middle.  Sprinkle the potatoes with flour so that it looks like it just snowed.  Put the beaten egg into the well and start working the dough to combine.  Keep adding flour until you have a slightly tacky, moist dough.

Roll the dough out into long 1/2-in. thick ropes.  Cut the gnocchi into 1-in. pieces.  Freeze what you aren't using on a plate sprinkled with some flour so they don't stick.

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Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Season it with salt.  Add the gnocchi.  Wait until they all float, then cook for 3-4 more minutes.

Drain the gnocchi, reserving a cup of the pasta water.  Heat the pesto in a pan, adding in a bit of the pasta water - it will loosen the pesto and help it to stick to the gnocchi.  Toss the gnocchi in the sauce and plate.  Top with the cheese.