Following on from my last post about not waiting to do things we've wanted to do for ages I finally got around to making some (sweet potato) gnocchi. I went to town this morning to get a few bits and bobs and despite it being grey and raining I came back in the most brilliant mood and couldn't wait to get creative!
It then put me in an even better mood when I remembered that my housemate's friend who's staying with us is Italian, despite having not made gnocchi for quite a few years, she could remember some of the techniques from previously making sweet pumpkin gnocchi with cinnamon sugar (which sounds amazing!) and helped me figure out how to roll the gnocchi to get the signature shape (as well as we could with a fork, anyway). She also educated me about how to properly salt boiling water to cook the gnocchi in, so not only can I now check make gnocchi off of my to-do list, I can check make gnocchi with an Italian! The end result was tender, slightly sweet gnocchi that were just gorgeous!
I then cooked a mushroom and thyme cream sauce, which is beautifully savoury enough to compliment the slightly sweet taste of the gnocchi, infused with garlic, herbs and a rich mushroom flavour. The secret ingredients? Dried mushrooms and cashew nuts; the mushrooms give a real deep and earthy flavour to the sauce and the cashew nuts replicate cream, whilst adding some goodness in too!
There's been lots of research lately about how great nuts are towards are health, they are associated with a decreased risk to many preventable diseases, shown to have heart-protective properties, as well as containing a vast range of nutrients. They are high in protein - for building and repair within the body, copper - which provides an antioxidant effect, magnesium - for calcium and nerve regulation and iron - for oxidation of your blood. There are so many benefits to eating nuts, and whilst they contain fat, it is an unsaturated (good) fat and has actually been linked to weight regulation when eaten in portioned amounts.
There's a certain trick to rolling the gnocchi; first take a bit of the dough and make a long thin shape, then cut it into small pieces and individually roll each piece, it can take a bit of time to do the whole batch, but the whole process is actually pretty therapeutic and fun too. To roll the gnocchi we used a fork, pick quite a long one and lightly dust it with flour, then take a piece of gnocchi, hold the fork up so the prongs are facing towards you, put a piece of gnocchi at the top of the prongs, place your thumb in the middle, press on it and slowly drag it downwards at the same time, it should then curl around. If descriptions aren't your thing, there's a great video on rolling gnocchi here!
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Sweet Potato Gnocchi | Serves: 3-4 | Time: 45-60 minutes
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cups
- Chopping board
- Large Frying Pan
- Large saucepan
- Slotted spoon
- Salt for cooking water
- 1.5 cups sweet potato mash (1 large sweet potato)
- 1-1.5 cups plain flour
- Pinch salt & pepper
- 150g baby chestnut mushrooms
- 1/2 cup cashew nuts
- 1/2 cup dried mushroom pieces
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 tsp mustard
- Pinch black pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- Begin by adding the cashew nuts, dried mushrooms, warm water, garlic powder, mustard, lemon juice, parsley and a pinch of black pepper to the blender, leave to soak whilst you make the gnocchi.
- Put the cooked sweet potato mash in a bowl (either roasted or microwaved), and combine with a pinch of salt, black pepper and 1-1.5 cups of flour until a dough is formed. Then divide into portions, roll into a long sausage shape, cut and roll using a fork - instructions for the rolling can be found in the text of this post above.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, then carefully add the gnocchi to the water and boil for 5-7 minutes, until the gnocchi no longer taste floury.
- Meanwhile, chop the mushrooms and begin to fry these until slightly browned, then blend the sauce until smooth and add into the pan, along with the fresh thyme, a few ladles of the starchy, salted pasta water, taste and adjust seasonings as needed, then reduce the heat to low.
- Using the slotted spoon transfer the cooked gnocchi into the sauce, stir to combine, serve up with a generous amount of black pepper and enjoy!
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