Sweet Potato Gluten Free Gnocchi...Two Ways
If you want to make gnocchi like an Italian grandmother, you've reached the right place.
I have posted over the years a number of varieties of gnocchi - with and without eggs, with regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beetroot...and believe me I have many more in store.
This version is for all my friend who follow a gluten free diet, or simply for those who want to try something a little different. The go perfectly with a variety of sauces and, since I couldn't really make up my mind, I made half with a cacio e pepe sauce, and half with a spicy, fiery arrabbiata (with a twist) - they both tasted delicious!
The dough is quite soft, yet it holds together really well, so a squeezed it through a pastry bag directly into the boiling water.
Have a try and let me know!
Ingredients (for 4)
For the gnocchi:
3 medium size sweet potatoes, peeled
±150g of gluten free flour (mine was a blend of rice flour and potato starch)
A pinch of nutmeg
3-4 tbsp grated pecorino or parmigiano cheese
Salt to taste
For the cacio e pepe sauce:
A large knob of butter
1 tbsp whole black peppercorn, ground coarsely
50 g grated pecorino cheese
A few tbsp of pasta cooking water
For the arrabbiata sauce (with a twist):
2 tbsp evo oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
400 g peeled tomatoes (preferably the San Marzano variety)
1 tsp double tomato concentrate
A couple of fresh basil leaves
2 fresh red chillies, minced finely
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/3 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
To garnish: crushed spicy taralli
To make the gnocchi:
Steam or boil the sweet potatoes until very soft. Allow them to cool enough to handle, then mash them, making sure there are no lumps. You can do this using your hands, a fork, a potato masher or a food processor.
Add the egg, salt, nutmeg and grated cheese and mix well. Start adding the flour a couple of spoons at a time, each time incorporating the flour into the mixture. Continue to add the flour, a few spoons at a time, until you obtain a soft dough that binds together.
The texture will not be as smooth as regular gnocchi as we are using gluten free flour. However, the egg and the starch from the GF flour will bind the dough really well. Do not be tempted to add too much flour to make a stiff dough - the general rule for all types of gnocchi is to add as little flour as possible as this will make them quite heavy and chewy.
The exact quantity of flour will vary based on a few factors - the size of your potatoes, the size of your egg, how much moisture the potatoes have absorbed (when steaming they absorb much less water which will in turn make your gnocchi lighter). So just add as much flour as needed for the dough to come together.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag and place the pastry bag i the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You can even keep it overnight.
Now, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. You want to make sure that there's enough space between the gnocchi or they'll stick together. You also want to make sure you bring the water to a rolling boil - if the temperature is too low, the gnocchi will fall to the bottom of the pot and stick to it.
Gnocchi only need a minute or so to be done so keep a close eye on the pot. You'll know they are ready when they come floating on top. You can scoop them gently with a sieve or slotted spoon and transfer to the pan with the sauce.
To make the cacio and pepe sauce:
Add the black pepper in a heavy-bottomed pan and toast it for a few seconds on a medium-low flame. Add the butter and gently melt it, adding a couple of splashes of hot pasta water.
Keep the grated cheese ready in a bowl and add a ladle of boiling pasta water to it, mixing vigorously with a whisk or fork until the cheese melts into the water and you obtain a very thick paste. Add this to the pan with the pepper and rapidly mix to dissolve into a lush cream.
Immediately add the gnocchi and very gently toss them in the sauce until well coated.
To make the arrabbiata sauce:
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the garlic. We add it whole to just flavour the sauce and remove it at the end, but you can choose to finely mince it and leave it in the sauce.
Add the chopped red chillies, the peeled tomatoes, tomato concentrate, basil and about half a glass of water. Crush the tomatoes with a fork or potato masher.
Add the salt, sugar, chilli powder, cumin powder. Cook on a medium flame for about 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the oil separated. Adjust the seasoning and set aside.
When the gnocchi are ready, transfer them directly into the sauce. To serve, crush some spicy taralli straight onto the plate and serve immediately.