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.”
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.