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Monday
Feb212011

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Hazelnuts

I just have to show you the Valentine's gift that my husband gave me.  He knows I'm a big Trekkie.  Did you get flowers or jewelry for Valentine's?  I got a pizza cutter.  And I loved it.  When I was a kid, my brothers and I had a model of the Starship Enterprise hanging above our T.V. set by a piece of fishing line.  Bless my little Italian mother - she never made us take it down, although it must have looked so dumb to guests.  I thought about hanging my new pizza cutter from my pot rack in my kitchen, just to bring back old times.   Maybe not.

These sweet potato gnocchi are so delicious.  This dish is so rich and so flavorful, it really needs to be the main event in a meal. The sweetness of the potato, the saltiness of the pancetta and the crunch of the hazelnuts is just a perfect combination. I use half russet potato and half sweet potato to get what I think is the perfect sweet potato gnocchi.  If you use all sweet potato, I think the taste is a little over the top sweet.

You will need a potato ricer for this dish, but you can get one anywhere. They really provide the right consistency for the potatoes to make the dough.  Be sure to cool the potatoes just to the point to where they are still warm, so they bind well with the egg and the flour.

This dish can be a great vegetarian entree, if you leave out the pancetta. 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi 

 

for a printable recipe, click here

serves 3-4

You will need a potato ricer for this recipe

It is important for this recipe to have your eggs, flour, and potato ricer ready when your potatoes come out of the oven.  The potatoes should cool slightly, but it's important for them to still be warm when you add the eggs and flour, otherwise they will not bind as well together.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 14-ounce sweet potato
  • 1 10-ounce russet potato
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (approximately)
  • 3 ounces pancetta, chopped finely (omit if you want a vegetarian dish)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

 

Instructions:

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place hazelnuts on foil and toast the hazelnuts in a 400 degree F oven for about 8 minutes.  Immediately wrap hazelnuts in a clean towel and let steam for about 5 minutes. Roll the hazelnuts around in the towel - this will remove a lot of the skins.  Take the hazelnuts out and set aside.

Place the potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for about one hour, or until they are soft and easily pierced with a sharp knife. Set aside to cool slightly.  

Meanwhile, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or wax paper.  A pastry scraper helps a lot in making gnocchi.  Cut potatoes in half and remove their skins. Force potatoes through a ricer.  Make a mound on a work surface with the potatoes and make a well in the center.  Beat the eggs slightly in a small bowl and pour into the well. Sprinkle a cup of the flour onto the potatoes and with a fork, start mixing the eggs and incorporating the flour and potatoes together.  Add another half cup of flour and with a pastry scraper, mix the ingredients together until a dough begins to form.  Add another half cup of flour and work into dough. Use a pastry scraper to scrape up the dough and fold it back on itself.  Use additional flour if dough is overly sticky. You want the dough to be slightly sticky, but not too sticky.  

Cut off a chunk of dough and roll it out into a rope about 1/2 inch in diameter.  If the dough is too sticky, it will be hard to roll but if it is too dry, it will not stick enough to the counter for you to be able to roll it out.  This takes practice to get a feel for this, but it's very easy.  Use a little sprinkling of flour on the counter if the dough is sticking too much.  After you roll out the rope, then sprinkle the rope with flour and cut either with the pastry scraper or a sharp knife into inch long pieces.  Place on the wax paper on one of the baking sheets and sprinkle with additional flour so the gnocchi don't stick together.  Repeat with remaining gnocchi and refrigerate until ready to cook.

In a large skillet, fry the pancetta until crisp. Remove and let drain on paper towels.  Wipe fat out of pan. In same pan, warm the olive oil, butter, nutmeg,  and sage together over low heat. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Have a strainer or spider ready. Place half the gnocchi gently into the water.  Do not let the water boil vigorously, just gently. When the gnocchi float to the top, continue to cook them for about 30 seconds.  Remove with the strainer and place in the skillet with the warmed oil and butter. Cook the rest of the gnocchi, add to the skillet along with the pancetta and toss gently.   Add sea salt to taste.  Transfer to a serving dish and toss with the cheese.  Sprinkle hazelnuts on top.  

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Reader Comments (24)

great recipe, I think this has convinced me to attempt making gnocchi myself. I do have a question, does the pancetta get added back at any point?
Thank you for a wonderfully informative and visually enjoyable site!

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

From The Italian Dish:

Donna: Oops! Fixed it. Thank you!

February 21, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

That pizza cutter is so cool! And the sweet potato gnocchi sound delicious! Two of my favourite things combined! Live long and prosper.

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiam

Making gnocchi looks a little easier than I thought it would be. I'm bookmarking this to give it a try. Thank you!

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNikki (Pennies on a Platter)

This looks absolutely amazing, I cannot wait to try it. I found your blog just by chance and I am so excited I did. I moved from NY to Cali and everything out here is Mexican food which I have grown to LOVE but I MISS my Italian food from back east!! So you bring me a lil bit of home through the internet, thank u so much!

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaime

Just found your GORGEOUS blog over the weekend and immediately emailed it out to every foodie I know. Good to know I'm a bit ahead of the game. I got my Enterprise pizza cutter for Christmas! Can't wait to try the gnocchi and I bought a sweet potato over the weekend!

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEllaSahar

Elaine, I just love your blog and I love your classic recipes and beautiful photography. I don't have a potato ricer, but once I get one I will be immediately coming back to this recipe to give it a try. It looks so wonderful and absolutely delicious. Plus, I can never resist a big bowl of steaming, saucy gnocchi. Thanks for sharing!

Beautiful photos and a great post. Thank you for demonstrating the accessibility of gnocchi. I also adore the pizza cutter. Will your husband share where he found it?

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLael Hazan @educatedpalate

From The Italian Dish:

Hey Lael! Here's the link: http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/kitchen/dea2/

February 21, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Elaine, these look divine! I love sweet potatoes and never thought to use them to make gnocchi. Great process photos!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFlavia

Wow I love your blog, especially this latest post! You have inspired me to have a crack at gnocchi for the first time - can't wait to give it a go this weekend! I have just started a blog of my own and am amazed at the amount of great insipiration out there.

Thanks!

Sam

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSam's Table

The gnocchi will hold more sauce if you roll them gently on the tines of a fork after they have been cut. Learned this little trick in a cooking school in Florence last sumer.

Your blog really captures the flavors and vibrancy of Italian cooking.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I was hoping you would post a recipe for sweet potato gnocchi one day - love your blog and your recipes

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentereva

These look beautiful and sound delicious.

The potato ricer I really like is the one manufactured by Oxo. I like their food mill too.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

So happy to discover your blog. I was searching for how long to cook a spatchcocked chicken and found you! I'll be back.

February 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjanie

This looks so good!! I've made my great grandmother's gnocchi before - and they're yummy - but a bit heavy. I love this new twist and am looking forward to making them! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertania palermo

I tried the recipe: delicious! Thank you for posting it! I'm a big fan of sweet potatoes, I recently write an article on their health benefits, check it out: http://www.theironyou.com/2011/04/sweet-potato-hollywoods-stars-favorite.html
Peace
Mike @TheIronYou

July 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Love is ever the Love is ever the beginning of knowledge as fire is of light.-Dolce & Gabbana shoes for cheap

July 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCK womens scarf

Can I make the gnocchi ahead of time and then freeze for a dinner party later in the week?
How would I then cook it?

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

This looks so yummy and my husband loves gnocchi. Are you able to freeze this either before or after cooking? I have 2 kids and would love to make a big batch and just freeze it to have on hand for a quick dinner night!

November 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrachel

I already have a food mill. Do I still need to get a ricer to make gnocchi? Is a potato ricer the only method?

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCristina

From The Italian Dish:

Teresa/Rachel: You can freeze gnocchi after you make them but before you boil them. Just freeze the raw gnocchi on a sheet pan until firm and then place in plastic baggies. Don't thaw before cooking them.

Cristine: Gee, I have never pushed potatoes through my food mill. I guess give it a try. If it works, great. You don't have to have a ricer - it's just easy. You can also grate the potatoes on a big box grater.

December 6, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

help!! I made this last night but found that I needed more than double the flour to make it manageable, which resulted in very solid gnocchi. what am I doing wrong?

October 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterliselle

From The Italian Dish:

Liselle: Wow! That's a lot more flour. There will always be a little variability in the amounts, even when I make it, but double seems like a lot. Next time you make it, don't add quite that much flour but make sure you flour your counter when you roll them out. They need to be a little sticky, so they roll. But making sure your counter is floured should help. Try again -sometimes it's just a feel thing and getting used to working with that kind of dough. Sorry you had trouble!

October 12, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

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