Holiday season is in full swing and with it comes specialty foods, recipes, and what we like to call food memories. Most of us have a special food (or many!) that elicit memories and remind us of past times and holidays spent with friends and family. The senses are very tied to memory and while eating both taste and smell senses are triggered, hence, food memories! This week we explore one of Cecelia's nearest and dearest food memories, gnocchi.
Gnocchi are a type of homemade pasta though are also considered dumplings as they contain potatoes. To make homemade, gnocchi are time intensive and can take a few attempts to master the texture, though are completely worth it! Gnocchi are common in Italian cuisine and Cecelia's Italian grandmother was somewhat of a gnocchi master. Cecelia remembers her grandmother's gnocchi as perfect pillows of dough that melt in the mouth and just the word gnocchi, to this day, conjures memories of Christmas days spent cooking and enjoying this delectable dish. Her grandmother didn't need to follow a recipe and seemingly easily prepared 300+ gnocchi for a single meal. Cecelia treasures making gnocchi every year for Christmas though may never achieve the gnocchi mastership living in her "food memories." But that's okay! Gnocchi are delicious in many forms, with different recipes, and made by different chefs. We took a more nutritious take on the traditional gnocchi by using sweet potato and the results were delicious and stunning. Are you ready for some gnocchi making?
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sauce
PREP TIME: 45 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 60 minutes
Servings: 8-10 servings
2 lb sweet potato
1 cup all-purpose flour + 1/4-1/2 cup additional
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup full fat ricotta cheese
8 Tbsp salted butter
4 Tbsp pasta water (reserved from cooking)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
8 large kale leaves + 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil + 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
8 oz full fat ricotta cheese, about 1 oz per serving
Boil sweet potatoes until soft in texture, about 20-25 minutes. Allow cooked potatoes to cool, then remove skin and process potatoes through a potato ricer. If you do not have a potato ricer a food processor will also work*.
In a large bowl combine 1 cup flour and salt and form a well. In the center of the well, add in 1 egg, ricotta cheese, and riced sweet potatoes. Using your hands and working from the outside of the well, fold flour into the wet ingredients. Add an additional 1/4-1/2 cup flour 1 Tbsp at a time until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead dough gently for about 60 seconds until dough comes together. With floured hands and on a lightly floured surface, pinch off 2 Tbsp of dough and roll into a long cylinder about 3/4" thick using the tips of your fingers to roll to avoid compressing the dough. Cut each gnocchi into 3/4-1" pieces and repeat until all the dough has been shaped (pictures above). Continue to add flour to your hands and work surface if dough becomes too sticky to handle while working. Keep gnocchi on a lightly floured sheet pan while you're shaping the remainder. This gnocchi dough recipe will make about 100-120 gnocchi (more or less depending on the size you cut them). We froze 1/2 of the shaped, uncooked gnocchi to use later, just make sure to freeze on a sheet pan prior to placing in a air tight bag to prevent gnocchi from sticking.
To cook the remaining 1/2 of the gnocchi, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add 7-10 gnocchi to the hot water at a time and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the gnocchi float to the top. Remove cooked gnocchi from the water and set aside. Continue this process until all gnocchi has been cooked. Reserve the cooking water for use in the sauce.
To make the brown butter sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan set to medium heat and cook until butter turns brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low then add the chopped garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute. Add 4 Tbsp of reserved cooking water and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley.
To prepare the messaged kale, wash, de-stem, and chop the kale. Add the olive oil and salt to the chopped kale and message until bright green and wilted then set aside.
In the sauce pan used to make the brown butter sauce, add cooked gnocchi, messaged kale, and chopped walnuts. Stir gnocchi to evenly coat with sauce and serve with an additional dollop of ricotta cheese on top.
*If using a food processor, avoid over processing the potatoes as this will cause them to become starchy and gummy.
After one bite of homemade gnocchi, you just might be hooked and create some special food memories of your own. And we must stress how different homemade are from prepared, store bought options are much gummier and chewier and overall just not as enjoyable (in our opinion). Each bite of this dish is loaded with sweet and savory flavor, a mix of textures including pillowy gnocchi, and a gorgeous pop of colors. We hope you're creating great memories this holiday season.
Jess and Cecelia
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.