That's quite a mouthful! And mouthful after mouthful it was.
I'm not sure what possessed me to make Gnocci from scratch last week, maybe it was because Maddie had been clocking up some great sleeps and I thought I should put all my extra hours to good use, or maybe the snow outside just made me want to cook in the warmth all afternoon!! Either way, I'm glad I did.
We are on a bit of a sweet potato bender at the moment, I cook so much of it for Maddie that its just easy to throw an extra few on for us too. I never really used to cook with it that much, but have since found the easiest way of cooking it, and so now use it all the time. Rather than peeling and washing and then boiling the sweet potatoes, I just put them straight in the oven, as is, and bake them for about an hour, and then just peel off the skin easily when they have cooled a little. I find that if I just put them on in the morning when I'm doing other things, it feels like zero effort at all!
I don't really have a recipe for this dish, as I just went with however much of everything felt and smelled right, but I'll do my best to approximate!!
3 sweet potatoes/yams
Fresh ricotta cheese
Fresh parmesan cheese
Parsley or any fresh herbs really
1. Put sweet potatoes on some foil in the oven on about 180C/350F and leave to bake for about an hour.
2. When a knife easily cuts through the sweet potato, they are done. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
3. Peel the skin off the sweet potato, which will just fall right off, and put the flesh into a mixing bowl.
4. Mash the sweet potato, it doesn't need to be pureed so I just use a potato masher for this, but equally just a fork would do the job nicely.
5. Add about 1/2 - 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and mix well.
6. Start adding the flour in batches. Add a cup to start with and then keep adding until the dough is the consistency that is still a bit sticky, but dry enough to handle. Baking the sweet potato removes a lot of the water so you won't need as much flour as if you were to boil them.
7. When the dough is at a good consistency, break it off into handfuls and roll it into long sausages on a floured surface. Cut into one inch squares.
8. There are many methods for what to do next to get gnocchi the perfect shape, but my method was really easy and still looked quite effective. All that you need to do is to have the piece of gnocchi on the edge of the bench, and with a floured fork, press over it and roll it off the bench AND INTO YOUR HANDS!! (a few pieces were not so lucky!). Then just keep the prepared gnocchi in a container (with extra flour and paper towel to prevent them from sticking to each other at all) until you are ready to cook them.
9. Prepare to cook the gnocchi by heating a pot of boiling water. While this is heating, prepare whatever sauce you desire. The burnt butter sauce was perfect with this particular gnocchi because it didn't overpower the sweet potato flavour, and really, a sauce made entirely of butter, what's not to love about that! To make burnt butter, you quite simply, burn the butter, even a forgetful mum can manage that one! Put a big hunk of butter in a heavy-based pan and heat it until it is fully melted. Allow it to keep heating until the bottom browns, and turn it down while you cook the gnocchi.
10. It takes only a few minutes to cook the gnocchi in a pot of boiling water, and you will know they are ready because the float to the top. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set them on a drying rack.
11. Throw the cooked gnocchi into the burnt butter and mix well.
12. Serve with freshly grated parmesan and parsley and enjoy while hot!