Monday, July 7, 2014

Crunchy Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Gnocchi is a childhood favourite of mine.  My brother and I would spend an entire morning with my Nonna (Italian grandmother) preparing the dough and rolling out enough gnocchi to feed an army.  It is a serious comfort food for many Italians and you don’t have to eat that many to become full.
The dough is usually made from potato and egg, but sweet potato gnocchi is also a tasty option which adds another dimension of flavour.  You actually don’t need egg for this recipe, making this completely vegan!
Homemade gnocchi takes a few hours to prepare, and if you want the shortcut recipe, buy premade gnocchi and skip ahead to step three.  I serve this with a very tangy, flavourful garlic lemon aioli and a cilantro basil aioli.

For four servings of gnocchi
·         2 giant sweet potatoes, cut into thin chunks
·         Water for steaming and boiling
·         3 cups wheat flour
·         2 tsp nutmeg
·         Panko breadcrumbs
·         Salt to taste

Step one: Steam the sweet potatoes.
Steam the sweet potatoes over boiling water for approximately 10 minutes, or until the sweeties are soft.  Tip* to add an extra boost of flavour, add a few star anise pods, lime leaves, or cinnamon sticks while steaming.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Once cooled, mash the sweet potato into a paste.

Step two: Preparing the dough.
In a large bowl, mix sweet potato paste, flour, nutmeg and salt and kneed into a smooth ball of dough.  If the dough is still sticky, add more flour.  Chill for one hour.  Chilling dough makes it easier to work with.

Step three: Boil the gnocchi.
Boil a large pot of salted water.  Roll small pieces of dough in your hands and drop them into the water.  Boil for a few minutes until they float to the surface.  Remove and allow to cool so that you can handle them.

Step four: Breading.
Toss the gnocchi in panko bread crumbs so they are evenly coated.

Step five: Fry them up!
In a large frying pan, or deep fryer, heat some vegetable oil and gently place each breaded gnocchi in the oil.
Cook until golden brown.

And now for the garlic lemon aioli.  It’s very simple to put together.
You need:
·         1 block of silken tofu
·         3 cloves of garlic
·         1 tsp salt
·         1 tsp black pepper
·         Zest from 1 lemon
·         Juice of 1 lemon
·         Half a cup of water
·         Half a cup of olive oil

Add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor.  Blend on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes.  That’s it!  Serve the aioli in a small side bowl or put it in a squeeze bottle.  Yields about 500 mL.

The cilantro basil aioli has the same process as above, just with different ingredients:

·         1 cup fresh cilantro
·         1 cup fresh basil
·         1 cup fresh scallions, chopped
·         1 tsp salt
·         1 tsp black pepper
·         1 cup olive oil
·         2 tsp white vinegar

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