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Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pork Ragu

My status on the blog’s Facebook page last night read, “Dinner’s on the stove – grain-free sweet potato gnocchi with a pork ragu. If it’s any good, you’ll have the recipe tomorrow.”

Guess what.

I’d never made gnocchi before, although I really enjoy it.  And I’m not sure what possessed me to make it last night, but I’m glad I did – it came out better than I could have possibly hoped for; even The Young One ate it, and he generally turns his nose up at anything made with sweet potatoes, even the tater tots.  They came out light and fluffy, and I had to restrain myself from eating every one of the tender little beauties before I could plate them with the ragu and take a photo.

The recipe may seem long, but it really wasn’t difficult at all – the ragu is simplicity itself, and the gnocchi came together much more quickly and easily than I had anticipated.  I used Japanese sweet potatoes, because that’s what I had on hand, and the proportions of the recipe are correct for that ingredient.  If you use the more common red-skinned sweet potatoes, you may need to add a little extra of the potato flour to get a smooth dough that can be easily handled, since the Japanese sweets tend to have less moisture than the orange-fleshed variety.

If you are not grain-free, you can substitute the tapioca and potato flours with 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour, but don’t substitute the almond flour – it gives the gnocchi a nice texture.  If you don’t eat pork, ground lamb would be nice in the ragu, or ground turkey, but I think ground beef might be a little strong tasting for this dish.

Note:  You’ll notice there are two options with the gnocchi at the end of the recipe; I browned it last night, but I don’t think I’d bother to do that again – I’d just go ahead and toss it with the ragu.  Also, these days when a sauce calls for thyme, I just tie several sprigs together with kitchen twine and toss them in the pot with the other ingredients, then fish it out when the sauce is ready.  Thyme is a bit of a bugger to strip from the stems, and this method saves a lot of hassle.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pork Ragu

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pork Ragu

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pork Ragu
Serves: 6
  • 3 small sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), unpeeled and scrubbed
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup potato flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 cans (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
  1. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil; cook the potatoes whole, without peeling, until they are fork tender all the way through. Rinse with cold water and set aside just until cool enough to handle.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with salt and pepper and brown in the olive oil; when it is mostly browned, but still pink in places, add the onion and garlic; continue cooking until the pork is completely cooked and the onion is soft. Add the wine, tomato sauce, sage, oregano and thyme; reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture is thick and the gnocchi is ready. Remove the thyme stems before serving the ragu.
  3. While the ragu is simmering, whisk together the tapioca, potato and almond flours in a large bowl with the cheese, two teaspoons of kosher salt and several grinds of black pepper. Peel the potatoes, discarding the skins, and squeeze them through a ricer or run them through a food mill into the flour mixture. Add the egg yolk and gently stir all the ingredients together, forming a soft dough.
  4. Divide the dough into three equal parts; roll the first part of the dough into a 1/2-inch rope. Cut the rope into 1- inch pieces (about the size of a grape). If desired, roll each piece gently with the tines of a fork before transferring to a large, lightly oiled baking dish. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  5. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Gently drop batches of the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes, until the gnocchi float to the top of the pot. Transfer the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Continue until all of the gnocchi are cooked.
  6. At this point, you can toss the gnocchi in the ragu and serve, or melt 2 tablespoons of ghee in a large skillet over high heat and gently pan-fry the gnocchi until golden brown. Drain the gnocchi briefly on paper towel; divide between six bowls and top with the ragu, and additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 485 calories, 24.6g total fat, 88.1mg cholesterol, 897.8mg sodium, 1150.9mg potassium, 43g carbohydrates, 6.9g fiber, 11.1g sugar, 18.8g protein.


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