If I had to choose a favourite food group, I would definitely pick gnocchi. Yes, I do believe it is worthy of having its own food group. It can be extremely adaptable and is suitable for so many different cuisines, albeit Italian in origin.
I will often be found eating and making gnocchi, from fried potato gnocchi after a night out, to Thai fusion gnocchi made using gram flour (at the Berlin Supper Club), to a full blown Italian feast.
In this blog post I want to show gnocchi’s versatility by making it with a different type of starch – sweet potato. Its natural sweetness works extremely well with a roasted pepper sauce and a pokey salsa verde.
Don’t be put off by the idea of making your own gnocchi – it is simpler than it seems and the results are amazing. However, I do like to keep my gnocchi dough quite wet to help with the texture and this means it can be a little bit difficult to handle, but using oil or flour (but not both together!) can help to stop it sticking to everything.
I often find myself debating between the possibilities of boiling or frying my gnocchi…the fried gnocchi always wins. When I buy gnocchi I tend to do both, boil and then fry, just because the shop-bought stuff tends to be a bit hard otherwise. However, when making this homemade dough, simply frying it works brilliantly. You end up with a crispy outer and a soft inner – yum! As previously mentioned, a great post night out snack ;-).
Now, let’s discuss the other elements of this meal. I love making salsa verde, and here I have a recipe for quite a large batch, the leftovers of which I then freeze for future use! If you want to make less, divide the recipe down. You can buy some in if you prefer (make sure you avoid the ones with ingredients like anchovies in), but nothing beats the zing of a freshly made batch.
Salsa Verde (Pistachio):
10g Basil, 30g Baby spinach, 50g Parsley, 100g Pistachio (toasted), 50g Capers, 50g Black olives (pitted), 3 tbsp Red wine vinegar, 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard, 350ml Extra virgin olive oil
– Blitz it all in a food processor and season to taste
If the vibrant green colours aren’t enough for you, then check out the stunningly bright red colours of the roasted peppers and tomatoes!
Using simple fresh ingredients like these (even better in the summer!) means you don’t have to complicate the sauce. Just by roasting the vegetables and garlic, you get a lovely flavour to add to the gnocchi and salsa verde. I blend mine using a Vitamix blender, which creates a really nice smooth sauce. If you don’t have a good blender, either settle with a slightly bittier sauce, or try passing it through a kitchen sieve.
This dish doesn’t need much more explanation. Just looking at this picture brings back memories of beautiful summertimes in Italy, where fresh green and red veg is bountiful. Bring on summer!
I urge you to make this and enjoy!
Recipe – Sweet Potato Gnocchi with a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Pistachio Salsa Verde
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
500g Sweet potato
60ml Plant-based milk
200g Spelt flour
2 tbsp Nutritional yeast
2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black pepper
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
A handful of parsley
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
3 Red peppers (you can be extra lazy and use pre-roasted peppers from the jar)
2 Garlic cloves
1 tsp Agave
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Handful of basil
Oil (for roasting)
Seasoning (to taste)
1. Roast the sweet potato in the oven at 200c for 30-40 mins (or until soft)
2. Peel and mash the sweet potato whilst still warm
3. Then mix in the milk, nutritional yeast, seasoning, nutmeg and parsley
4. Gradually add in the spelt flour and knead until it reaches a dough like consistency
5. Set the dough aside whilst you make the sauce (this should be left for about 40 mins)
6. Roast the peppers and tomatoes with the garlic cloves (keep skin on) at 200c for 30 mins or until slightly charred
7. Pop the garlic out of their skins and place in the blender, along with the rest of the roasted veg and the remaining sauce ingredients
8. Blend until smooth
9. Taste the sauce and season further as required
9. Put the final sauce into a saucepan to keep hot until you come to serve
10. Separate the gnocchi dough into four balls and roll out in to long sausage shapes and then slice the sausages into 1cm by 1cm thick rounds
11. If you have a gnocchi ridger, shape the rounds, if not you can use the rounds straight away (if you find the mix too gloopy and hard to handle, either add a little more flour or rub the outside of the gnocchi with oil to make it easier to handle – the liquidy consistency is good for the texture though)
12. Heat up some oil in a frying pan, chuck the gnocchi into the pan and fry off until the outsides are crispy and have a really nice golden colour and the insides are cooked, but still soft – this usually takes about 5-10 minutes
12. Serve up with the heated sauce and splodge on as much salsa verde as you desire, along with some fresh herbs (I like to use basil or parsley)