Monday, 26 October 2015

Gnocch 'n' Roll!

Gnocchi di Patate Dolce & 2 x Ricotta, con Cilegini, Zenzero, Salvia & Foglie di Limone
Sweet Potato Gnocchi & 2 x Ricotta, with Cherry Tomatoes, Ginger, Sage & Lemon Leaves

Yes, I had been thinking of making these gnocchi all day, but trying to think of te best way to make them. I knew I wanted to use the sweet potato that I had in the fridge and that I wanted to use lemon leaves to add aroma, sage for great flavor and ginger for a touch of spice... But otherwise- I didn't really have a plan!

But the main thing I wanted to do, was to make them in the simplest way possible... It had been a long day and I didn't want to slave for too much longer! I just wanted to have a good, home made meal!


Most gnocchi recipes using sweet potatoes or pumpkin, tend to require you baking them in the oven. Hmmm.... When preparing just 1 potato? In my reality? Not gonna happen!

But what I DID make happen, was using my smallest saucepan and a little steam rack instead. And a little ingenuity. And as you can see... Yeah! Worked just fine!


It took just 1 medium sized sweet potato to make 2 portions of gnocchi... That and 2-3 tablespoons of flour, 1 tablespoon of fresh ricotta, a little fresh ginger, 2-3 leaves of sage, 2-3 lemon leaves, a handful of cherry tomatoes, salt, pepper, nutmeg, butter and a little salted ricotta for grating. No exact measurements here... Because no 2 sweet potatoes are alike, and different kinds of flour react differently... You are going to have to simply get in there and use a little bit of your own judgement when you make gnocchi... Which is all part of the fun!


If you like gnocchi, you will want them to be nice and fluffy, I would imagine. Not heavy and sticky and chewy... They should be a delight to eat and not a chore!

So the thing to do is to be as gentle with them when you prepare them as you would expect them to be delicate when you eat them... It's only common sense after all!


So, let's begin by peeling the potato and chopping it into thick slices. I decided to snap-up and add some lemon leaves during steaming, to give the gnocchi a delicate lemon aroma... Just a crazy idea, but a good one at the same time! You know the difference that a couple of kefir lime leaves will make to a Thai curry, right? Well, these Sicilian lemon leaves did the same for my gnocchi!

This is definitely not a "must" in any case... But it was fun to do on this occasion! 


I steamed them for around 20 minutes and then removed the lid to let the steam escape for a while... But then moved swiftly on whilst the potato was still warm.


The next step was to pas it through a potato ricer... This is the best way to mash the potatoes for making gnocchi in my opinion, but a regular masher or even a fork will be fine... Just don't mash them down too firmly.


Next, add a tablespoon of fresh ricotta and plenty of freshly ground nutmeg. Stir in well using a fork, so that you get plenty of air into the mixture, which will help to cool it and also to keep the mashed potato nice and light.


Add 2 tablespoons of flour and fold it in using a fork, nice and lightly, until it is all combined and the mashed sweet potato and ricotta starts to form a soft dough.

Keep adding a little sprinkle of flour at a time and mixing it in loosely until your dough comes together. It IS supposed to be a soft dough though and the firmer you make it and more you knead it, the more heavy and dense it is going to be.


Once the mashed potato and flour come together nicely in your bowl, transfer the dough to your well-floured work surface.


Gather up that flour, roll the dough into a ball and add more flour if necessary, just a little at a time. The trick is to not add too much more flour than you need... You want a billowy-soft consistency- not a firm one like for pasta.


Making sure to have plenty of flour on your surface, roll out the dough to about the thickness of your thumb, then cut into small lengths, also of about the width of your thumb.

Once you have cut your gnocchi from the rolls of dough, you can sprinkle them with flour then either roll them along the surface of a fork or one of these cool wooden blocks if you are lucky enough to have one... Otherwise, the fork will work just fine!


It's a little bit labor-intensive... But it's fun... And there is such a great feeling of satisfaction in making your own, too!


Bring your water to the boil, add your salt and carefully add your gnocchi. Of course, the initially, frantically boiling water will stop doing to for a minute or so... But the secret is this... Do not boil your gnocchi at too high a setting... Let the water just gently simmer and ripple, but not bubble away like crazy!

They like to tell you that the gnocchi are good when they float to the surface... But I am telling you- give them 2 more minutes after that and you will be happier!


Once they are done, transfer them to some cold water, using a slotted spoon... There is no need to have ice in the water, but the coldness will prevent them in over-cooking in their own residual heat.


Next, add your finely chopped sage, about 2" worth of ginger, finely chopped and your handful of halved cherry tomatoes. Fry for 1-2 minutes at a high setting and then prepare to add your gnocchi.


Add the gnocchi using a slotted spoon, so that you do not have too much moisture in the pan and then gently stir to get them all well coated.


Serve with a little grated salted ricotta cheese and a little pepper and serve whilst piping hot with a little freshly ground pepper... And Buon Appetito! Home made gnocchi!

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