Sweet Potato Gnocchi, roasted tomato passata & fresh pesto

This has to be one of my favourite little bowls of comfort food. Made fresh or made ahead, there’s something deeply satisfying about tucking into these delicious homemade savoury dumplings.

Gnocchi can take on a variety guises; being made with either semolina, wheat flour, egg, breadcrumbs and potatoes. I’d say the type that most of us are familiar with are the grocery store potato variety.

Simple, delicious, comforting

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with picking up a packet of dumplings from the store, in-fact if you toss these in a little olive oil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or so, they turn into fantastic mini roast potato impersonators!

My homemade gnocchi are made with potato, however I prefer to use sweet potato. Why is that do you ask? I personally find it easier to work with in this recipe, it gives a delicious underlying caramelised flavour and looks rather pretty too with its vibrant orange hue.

I’m serving these up with a no-fuss roast tomato passata sauce that you simply chuck into the oven whilst you get on and make your gnocchi……..

Ingredients – Gnocchi
  • 2 or 3 medium sweet potatoes (approx 600g)
  • 100g ’00’ pasta flour with extra required to reach the desired dough texture
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 knob of salted butter (approx 30g)
  • 1 generous handful of fresh, chopped herbs of your choice
Ingredients – Passata
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 or 2 small carrots, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, you guessed it, finely diced
  • Tomatoes – you can take your pick here from vine, cherry, plum… any you like! I’d recommend medium to small sized though to get the best results
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlicA splash of white wine
  • Vegetable or Chicken stock (you don’t need a lot, maybe max. 200ml)
Steps
  1. This is the part that takes a little time…… Roast the sweet potatoes, whole in their skin for approximately 1 hour (at about 200c) or until a skewer can easily be poked through the potato.
  2. Whilst the potatoes are in the oven you can get on with the sauce by simply dicing up the vegetables (excluding the tomatoes), tossing them into a pan with a generous glug of olive oil and cooking on a medium heat until they are softened and golden.
  3. Rinse your tomatoes and quickly pat dry. These can then be tossed into a shallow roasting tray with the garlic cloves. Don’t worry about peeling the garlic as these will roast in their skins and turn into the most beautifully sweet puree that you just squeeze out later on. Pop the tray into the oven and cook until the tomatoes are charred slightly and beginning to break down.
  4. Tomatoes and vegetables can be mixed together and now happily sit on the side to cool. Don’t forget to squeeze out those garlic cloves into the mix to let the flavours mix together.
  5. By this point, your potatoes should be cool enough to handle. Scoop out the flesh (don’t discard the skins these can be rubbed with some olive oil, salt & pepper before being crisped off in the oven to make a delicious little snack) and mix in the sifted ’00’ flour with your hands.
  6. Season with salt & pepper, add the herbs* and egg yolks and mix well to form your gnocchi dough. It should be easy to handle and not too sticky. The 100g of flour used is a great starting quantity however you will need to add more (I always end up having to) to reach the desired dough consistency….
  7. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 smaller balls before rolling out into lengths that are about 1cm thick before cutting into dumplings. Don’t make these too big, I’d say about 2cm is about right.
  8. Now the fun part, you get to decide what shape you want to make the gnocchi into! In this recipe I’ve simply rolled them by hand quickly to make small dumplings, however you can use a gnocchi board to roll them add extra textured ridges that the sauce will cling to!
  9. Gnocchi can be laid out** on a dusted board (use some semolina) until you are ready to cook them. At this stage, pop a large pan of salted water on and bring to the boil.
  10. .Tip the tomatoes, vegetable and garlic into a saucepan and heat. Add a splash of wine and allow to cook off slightly before checking the seasoning, adjust to your taste before blending either with a stick blender or in a food processor to a smooth consistency. Return to the pan and gently heat if you need to.
  11. Your water should now be at a rolling boil. Add the gnocchi, they should take only a couple of minutes to be ready before draining and quickly cooling in ice cold water.
  12. Heat the knob of butter in a pan to melt, swirl quickly until beginning to foam then throw in the Gnocchi and fry for a minute or two.
  13. Toss the gnocchi through the passata then serve with a generous grating of Parmesan.
  14. I like to add a spoonful of fresh pesto as always tend to have a jarful lurking in the fridge (see my quick pesto recipe).

*To add an extra dimension add a little grated nutmeg and ground fennel seeds to the dough at stage no.6

**If you do want to make these ahead, they can be frozen at step no.9 then simply dropped into boiling water and cooked for a minute or so more.

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