Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gnocchi Two Ways

Pan Fried Potato Gnocchi With Mushrooms and Gorgonzola Sauce

No sooner than when I rejoiced over the advent of spring that winter comes back to bite us in the you-know-what. Winter weather has returned and so have the rains. I don’t know if this is Sydney’s way of welcoming the dignitaries arriving for the APEC conference, but it sure hope it doesn’t stick around for too long. I was just enjoying the sunshine and warm weather, and I could smell summer was just around the corner. Now it feels like summer is around the corner and down five more blocks away. What is with this erratic weather?

If you wanted to conjure up what the weather has been like, well it’s the kind that makes you want to stay in your pyjamas all day, the kind that makes you crave something warm for your belly and it’s the kind of weather that forces you indoors. Be that as it may, there is no need to fret. I have something sunny and light to wash away those cold weather blues.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi Two Ways

Gnocchi- it probably isn’t the first thing you would think of when you cite being “light” as one of its qualities, it’s more words like stodgy, doughy, indigestible that come to mind. I know because I have never met a gnocchi that I have liked, they have always been too filling, too starchy and it seems like all it does is expand in your stomach after you have eaten just a few morsels. I never order gnocchi at restaurants because I just never see the point, one portion leaves you too stuffed to taste anything else- which for me means no dessert- which I just cannot abide with.

So what say you is the solution to heavy humdrum gnocchi? Add a little ricotta and change it’s colour; that’s what I did and it worked for me.

From dreading gnocchi to actually enjoying it, it was quite a reversal of opinion after tasting these. The key is the ricotta, it allows for a lighter fluffier dough as opposed to a typical gnocchi which is usually made only of flour and potatoes. It's amazing how moreish this gnocchi actually is, I never imagined myself craving another helping.

Pan Fried Potato Gnocchi With Mushrooms and Gorgonzola Sauce

The recipe yields an enormous amount of gnocchi that I didn't know what to do with it all at first. I digressed from the initial urge to just boil them in a pot, and wanted to try something different. I have seen other ways of cooking gnocchi other than boiling, so here are the two ways that I chose to cook them- pan fired and baked. In both methods, the gnocchi develops a thin crispy outer layer while the inside remains steamy and fluffy.

Both ways contain mushrooms and Gorgonzola, leftovers from what I didn't put on the pizzas. You might be thinking that I must have wheels and wheels of Gorgonzola lying around as that it has made an appearance in some of the non-dessert items I have made lately. Well, no I don't hoard huge amounts of the stuff, I just know how to make a wedge of Gorgonzola last a really long time. The first version is the pan-friend gnocchi with sage butter, mushrooms and Gorgonzola sauce and the second one is a baked gnocchi with tomato sauce.

Pan Fried Potato Gnocchi With Mushrooms and Gorgonzola Sauce

For the first batch all you need to do is- heat up a tablespoon of butter in a medium frypan and fry up some sage leaves just enough to infuse the butter with it's aroma. Then shallow fry the gnocchi until it is brown on both sides. Remove gnocchi from frypan and transfer to a paper towel to drain. With the heat still on, add the mushrooms (I used oyster) and fry them up until they are soft, you might want to add a little bit more butter at this point as the mushrooms will soak it up quickly. When the mushrooms are almost cooked, add a few cubes of Gorgonzola and melt. Plate the gnocchi up and place the mushroom sand sauce the gnocchi.

For the baked gnocchi, you will need to prepare a tomato sauce before hand (recipe below). Then preheat an oven at 180°C. Line a baking dish with gnocchi and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until the gnocchi begins to brown and form a skin. Then add some chopped mushrooms. Pour the tomato sauce over the gnocchi, ensuring that the whole dish is covered in the sauce. Lodge a few cubes of Gorgonzola into the sauce and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.

Baked Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Tomato Sauce

Which way did I prefer? To be honest I couldn't choose between them. The pan fried version with the sage was absolutely divine, the sage and Gorgonzola perfect compliments to each other and the beautifully crusted gnocchi was fun to bite into. While the baked version made for a perfectly smooth and creamy rendition of gnocchi. A far cry from the disasters I have tasted before and exactly what I needed on a dreary day like to day.

Basic Sweet Potato Gnocchi Recipe
Adapted from

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

2 medium sized sweet potatoes, washed and pierced all over with a fork
250g fresh ricotta cheese
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp sea salt
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place sweet potatoes on tray and bake for 45 minutes to an hour; until the skin is browned and the flesh is soft.
Remove sweet potatoes from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
Cut potatoes in half and use a spoon to scrape out the flesh and mash.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sweet potato flesh, ricotta, Parmesan, nutmeg, salt, egg and flour.
Combine the ingredients until a soft dough forms.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 6 equal pieces.
Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into a long rope 2.5cm in diameter, sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky.
Cut each rope into pieces about 1cm wide.
Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent.
Transfer to baking sheet.

Tomato Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
sea salt, to taste
400g can of chopped tomatoes

In a saucepan heat up olive oil over medium heat.
Fry garlic and dried chilli flakes for two minutes, add salt.
Pour in tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and become a deeper red.

Baked Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Tomato Sauce


Mallory Elise said...

ooooh. your gnocchi looks like little sausages. cute. i have never made gnocchi. but i made pickles today. Belles photos, you are a great photographer.

bec said...

Oh my gosh - the photos look absolutely delicious - I'm drooling as I type this. Ps - I think APEC must have brought the weather with them .. along with the 3 jumbo jets and the thousands of staff

Rhonda Jean said...

Thanks for the recipe. I'm definitely trying it. There can never been too many recipes for pasta in its various forms. This one looks like a real winner. Your photos are fabulous too. : )

Anonymous said...

Hi there. Lovely post, both ways look really yummy. Just wondering though, do you think you would be able to freeze a batch of these? or would it keep in the fridge? Would love to make gnocchi, but would like to make a big batch so I can justify the effort.

On the weather front, can totally empathise, I live up in central queensland, and you would think it would be all bright sunny days, but noooo, cold and overcast and raining here too.

Aimée said...

Looks wonderful, jenjen! A real success for your first time making gnocci. Wow. Another good way to lighten them up is to add mascarpone, mmm, totally divine.
I can't think of a more ideal winter food.

Sandra said...

Wow.. this home made gnocchi looks very delicious!!!
A great BYE from Italy!

Mallow said...

Those browned gnocchi look like they would be heavenly just on their own!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I have to say I have the same opinions about gnocchi....I made the mistake of ordering gnocchi in a restaurant recently (my first time trying) and I felt stuffed after like 2. I've had an aversion to gnocchi ever since but these look great. I like that you switched it up and made sweet potato gnocchi. :)

Helene said...

At first I thought 'Pumpkin" gnocchi but sweet potato makes them even better! Asolutely divine for the colder days to come (well, at least not until February here). That last shot is incredible!!

daphne said...

that is definitely in my "must make" section file. Very unique. And did i mention that i adore your pictures?

Amy said...

The crusts on those gnocchi look perfect!

evinrude said...

Oh these look gorgeous! I've never tried gnocchi and besides it being carbs, it's also because it has both flour and potatoes! Clever how you substitute sweet potatoes for potatoes because I'll definitely choose sweet potatoes over their plain counterparts anytime!

Caty said...

They both look great but I think I'm going to have to make the baked gnocchi, it looks absolutely delicious!

Ann (MobayDP) said...

Both these have gone into my "Have to make this" batch of recipes. They both look so yummy. I've never had sweet potato gnocchi and so am looking forward to trying it.

Amrita said...

Heya Jen..

As usual, gorgeous looking stuff!

By the way, I'VE TAGGED YOU! Check my blog out for the rules/instructions...It's really quite fun!

Hehe...keep up the good work!

Truffle said...

How delicious! You've given me a real pasta craving.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Well, good grief, those photos have now been licked! But it didn't work. I think the only thing is to try this!
Jen those are really astonishing photos!

Anonymous said...

What great Gnocchi Jenjen. You are so right they can be very tough and heavy, especialy if the dough is over worked. Don't mind if i take this recipe and add it to my menu do you? I love Gorgonzola, well any blue cheese. Regards John

Anonymous said...

Stunning photos as always, jenjen! I love how your photos always pique my interest, especially when it comes to dishes/bakes that I've never tasted before. Like this gnocchi! Droolsome... *wipes drool off keypad*

ilingc said...

Hi Jen,

Your pan fried gnocchi with the mushrooms looks really delicious. Part of the reason why I never really order gnocchi was because the first gnocchi I ever had tasted like rubber potato balls. I will remember your advice on the ricotta and make sure that if I ever make gnocchi or order it that ricotta is the prime ingredient in it :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip on tomato sauce as my man always likes to have some sauce with his dinner.

Mari said...

Sweet potato gnocchi, does life get any better?! I'm inspired! Do you think they'd work with a garlic sage cream sauce (it's getting colder over here) or would that be too heavy?

Anonymous said...

oh jenjen, how did you know the way to y heart was a warm plate of gnocchi? and two ways,,,,wonderful!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I haven't tried to make my own gnocchi and have resorted to the little sausages in the market. I must say I am probably not doing myself a favour. I must try your tender little morsels.

test it comm said...

Both of these sweet potato gnocchi dishes look really good. And they both have gorgonzolla...mmm...

claire said...

Allow me to chime in with everyone and say the two types of gnocchi look amazing! Well done :)

Anonymous said...

I love the pictures and the recipe looks great. Looks good all around.

Anonymous said...

Great recipe! I am sort of lazier and tried an even easier recipe that uses canned pumpkin puree instead of cooking sweet potatoes. Pretty easy to find the stuff this time of year.

Julie said...

Those gnocchi looks so delicious.