Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Homemade Passata

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Homemade Passata

The first time I had gnocchi was in Sorrento in Italy and it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. We were in a very Italian restaurant in the middle of the town, with red chequered table cloths and plastic tables, and as the Italians eat a lot later than we do we were the only ones in there at the time. I remember being served this very simple-looking bowl of potato dumplings with a basic tomato sauce and a little sprinkle of parmesan, so it didn’t look like much, but the taste of it was just perfection in a bowl.

Every time I go back to Italy now I always order gnocchi, and it never fails to impress. Not to mention the incredible passata (aka tomato sauce) they can make over there to go with it. If you’ve been following my other posts you’ll know by now I’m obsessed with Italian tomatoes. Apparently the volcanic soil makes them super good, and it’s really true! Whilst we don’t have tomatoes like that here, I find that a way of making the most of what we do have is to make your own homemade tomato passata, which will always taste so much better than the ones you buy in shops.

It’s a bit weird that it’s taken me this long to get round to making my own gnocchi, especially as it’s a lot easier than you’d think to make and it’s really tasty. These are slightly different to the traditional as they’re made with sweet potato, which makes them slightly heavier than the normal potato gnocchi, but it also gives them a really rich, sweet flavour, which works really well with the sauce! This recipe makes quite a lot of gnocchi, so if you can’t get through it all in one sitting you can blanch it (as in step 6) and then put it in an airtight pot in the fridge for up to 48 hours before carrying on and frying it.

Recipe

Serves 6

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 Medium sized Sweet potatoes (about 500g)
  • A sprinkle of Salt
  • 300g Pasta flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 50g Unsalted butter

For the Passata:

  • 1 Small white onion
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 8 Beef tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp Sundried tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Mixed herbs

To serve:

  • 2 Balls of Mozerella
  • 4 Handfuls of Baby spinach
  • A few leaves of Basil

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C.
  2. Put the potatoes onto a baking tray and sprinkle over the salt. Leave to roast in the oven for about an hour until soft. Cut in half and then leave to cool.
  3. Once cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the potatoes with a spoon. (The skins aren’t used in this recipe, but keep them as they’re great for making crispy, stuffed potato skins!)
  4. Mash the potato flesh with a fork so it becomes smooth. Season with a little salt and pepper and then slowly add the flour, squeezing he dough with your hands to make a pliable dough.
  5. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a thin sausage, about 60cm long. Cut the lengths into little pillow shapes about 2cm wide.
  6. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Drop the gnocci into the water and boil for a couple of minutes to blanch them. Normal potato gnocchi will rise to the surface when ready, but these are a little heavier so they might not. Scoop the gnocchi out of the water and place on a plate to cool.
  7. Now make the passata. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Put the oil into a pan and heat gently. Add the chopped onion and garlic and fry, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until the mixture starts to caramelise.
  8. Then chop the beef tomatoes into chunks and add them to the onions. Stir in the sundried tomato paste, mixed herbs and a little salt and pepper to season. Then leave to simmer on a medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have gone mushy and the mixture has begun to reduce down.
  9. You can leave your passata like this, but if you’d prefer it to be smooth take a hand-blender and puree the passata to make a smooth sauce. Taste again and season the sauce if needed. Then keep warm until the gnocchi is ready.
  10. Put the butter into a large frying pan and leave to melt. Then add the gnocchi and fry for 2-3 minutes. When one side is golden brown flip them over and cook on the other side. Once all the gnocchi have become crispy and golden-brown all over, transfer them to a plate and then serve with the passata, mozerella, baby spinach and a handful of fresh basil.

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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