After all the crazy, off-the-cuff potato gnocchi-making I’ve engaged in this fall, I decided to branch out. To sweet potato gnocchi. It works pretty much the same as regular potato gnocchi, except the dough never took on that playdough quality and stayed quite soft/tender/flour-hogging. Part of the reason for that is that the sweet potato is an entirely different vegetables, I’m sure, but the fact that the sweet potatoes I used were gigantic and so I peeled and cut them in order to boil them surely didn’t help – they probably soaked up a fair amount of water while cooking. Next time I might try just roasting the sweet potatoes whole….
Due to pantry shortages, I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour. It worked great. I’ve found these two flours can be used completely interchangeably in almost any recipe. Still, that it worked so well in gnocchi sort of shocked me.
Sweet potato gnocchi
Easy as homemade gnocchi are, they aren’t as easy as pulling something out of the freezer, so I made a large batch – half to eat that night, half to freeze for future. The entire batch makes about eight reasonable servings, servings that leave me plenty full. That said, I really have no idea how much you eat. This “large” batch may be just the right amount for your family of four. Then again, you might find it serves 12. It also depends on how you serve them: Just coated with a bit of brown butter or doused in cheese sauce? Sauteed with a few veggies or topped with ragu?
Note: To freeze simply lay shaped gnocchi on a baking sheet in a single layer and put in the freezer for a few hours or overnight. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container or ziploc bag. When you’re ready to cook them, just pop them in the boiling water. They’ll take a minute or two longer to cook than do the fresh ones.
2 lbs. sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp. salt (for cooking water)
2 – 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling and shaping
Peel sweet potatoes and cut into even-sized pieces. Put sweet potato chunks in a large pot and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil, add salt, and cook until sweet potatoes are very tender when pierced with a fork (try to limit your check-ins, you don’t want them taking up even more water than they already will). Drain sweet potatoes and return to the still-hot pot. Put them back on the stove over low heat and shake to help evaporate excess water.
Mash sweet potatoes thoroughly. I find pushing them through a ricer is the best way, but a large fork or potato masher works just fine, too. Stir in 2 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time.
If you’re cooking a batch of gnocchi, bring a large pot of water to a boil. If you’re going to freeze all the gnocchi, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Drop a spoonful of the batter into the boiling water. Stir and then let cook, undisturbed, until the “dumpling” floats to the surface. Let it continue cooking for 30 seconds before fishing it out. If it holds together, proceed with the recipe without adding the egg. If it falls apart, stir in the egg. The dough will separate and look weird. Do not panic. Instead, keep stirring. The dough will come back together, I promise.
Stir in the final 1/2 cup flour if the dough seems wet. If it seems like you could, with well-floured hands on a very well-floured surface, roll the dough into snakes and cut it into dumplings, turn it out onto a very well-floured surface. Divide the dough into four parts. Working with one part at a time, roll it into a 1-inch-thick snake and cut it into 1/2-inch dumplings. I found the dough too soft to really shape on a fork as one does with traditional potato gnocchi, but if you want to give it a try I’d love to hear about it! Put cut gnocchi on well-floured baking sheets. Put any amount you want to freeze in the freezer. Any gnocchi you plan to cook the same day simply cover loosely and leave in a cool spot until you’re ready to cook them.
To cook the gnocchi, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi as described for the sample – add to boiling water, stir, and let boil until they float to the surface, then let them cook 30 seconds more before lifting out of the water. Only cook as many gnocchi as will fit in a single layer when they float to the surface. Keep cooked gnocchi warm in a low oven, with a bit of melted butter or whatever sauce you plan on serving them with. I chose browned butter with a bit of sage and a few toasted walnuts. It was a solid, if unimaginative option.