Monday, December 9, 2013

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

The Thanksgiving classic "sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping" was a dish so reviled by my parents that I never saw it.  It was spoken of, occasionally, as something to avoid at all costs; a culinary urban legend.  When I was 30, I finally had it at a friend's house and after one bite I understood why my parents hated it. It was bland and sweet. REALLY sweet. I could see it as pie filling, but not as a side dish.  

So it was a surprise when, while cleaning up my parent's yard, I pulled up a (dead) vine and discovered that they have been growing sweet potatoes. Not to eat, but as ground cover, because they liked the leaves. Since they had no intention of eating them, so I took some home as a challenge.
What to do with these things?
I searched the internets and found a lot of recipes emphasizing sweetness; many variations on the marshmallow casserole. Even the so-called savory dishes used cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. But after some digging, I found some more interesting flavors. A thai-inspired soup that I will have to try out later, and several takes on sweet potato gnocchi. 

I chose this recipe because I wanted dinner, not dessert, and instead of playing up the sweetness of the sweet potatoes, it had garlic and vinegar. And it had mushrooms. I love mushrooms.

Doesn't that look great? Not my picture, but my gnocchi really did 
look this good. I swear. I just couldn't find my camera.
  • This is really rich. It says it serves four to six, but I only cooked half of the gnocchi and none of us could finish our plates. 
  • Be careful when adding flour. You may not need all of it. My sweet potatoes were on the dry side, so I only used two cups of flour, but if yours are wetter, you may need more.
  • The mushroom sauce is amazing. I may skip the gnocchi next time and just make the mushrooms. They were terrific.

Crispy Brown Butter Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Balsamic Caramelized Mushrooms + Goat Cheese

Recipe from: Half Baked Harvest

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serving Size: 4-6

·         1 cup of mashed sweet potato
·         1 cup pureed burrata cheese or ricotta (use whole milk for best results, I used burrata chese)
·         2 large eggs
·         1 teaspoon kosher salt
·         1/4 cup fresh parmesan, grated
·         3-4 cups all-purpose flour

Brown Butter Balsamic Sauce + Mushrooms

·         1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced
·         6 tablespoons butter
·         2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
·         2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
·         2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
·         1 teaspoon crushed red peper
·         1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
·         1/2 teaspoon pepper
·         1/4 teaspoon salt
·         4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled


1.  Make the gnocchi. Mix the mashed sweet potato, pureed burrata or ricotta, eggs, salt and parmesan together in a large bowl. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix well with your hands. The dough should be very sticky. Add another half cup of flour and mix in. You want the dough to still be pretty sticky, but sturdy enough to shape into a ball. If it's not, keep adding a little flour at a time until you can get a soft dough that will be rollable.

2.  Spread some flour on a large work surface. Cut the dough log into four equal pieces. Take one piece and cut it in half. Roll the piece of dough into a snake about 1/2 inch thick, then cut it into pieces about the width of a fork. Dust the gnocchi with a little flour, then use one finger to push the gnocchi up onto the tines of a fork. Let the gnocchi drop back to the work surface. Doing this helps create ridges for the sauce to stick to, but you can skip it if you would like. Repeat this process with the other piece of dough and place the gnocchi on a large plate, cover and set aside.

3.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

4.  To make the mushroom and brown butter sauce. In a medium skillet over high heat, add 2 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted, sprinkle in the mushrooms in a single layer. Don't stir them! Let them sizzle until they have caramelized on the bottom, about 2 minutes. When the bottoms are caramelized, toss them once and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue to cook without stirring for about 5 minutes. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add the remaining butter and cook until it begins to brown. Once the butter is browned reduce the heat and add the garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook for about 10 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar, and simmer until the mushrooms are glazed with the sauce. Then stir and remove the pan from the heat and slide the mushrooms and sauce off to the side.

5.  Now grab your gnocchi and add it to the salted boiling water. Boil the gnocchi until they float, then remove them with a slotted spoon and add them right into the skillet with the mushrooms/sauce. Return the skillet (with the mushrooms and gnocchi in it) back to medium heat. Let the gnocchi get crisp on one side for 2 minutes and then two minutes on the other, then stir gnocchi into the mushrooms. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with crumbled goat cheese on top.

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