Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Let me tell you about everything I won't be telling you about in this post. I will not tell you about cinnamon bread pudding with lemon-whiskey sauce. I will not tell you about mushroom sugo, which is what I had planned on making for this post. I don't remember how exactly I landed at the recipe page, but for some reason I had to make it. Maybe it was because it's the opposite of the simple tomato-butter-onion equation. It has everything--mirepoix, wine, mushrooms, tomato sauce, beef broth. The expense of the ingredients I needed to buy to make it persuaded me to make something else. I have too much food at home, not too little, and the prospect of buying tons of ingredients to make something that only I was going to eat seemed a bit absurd. Of course, what I did make was as labor-intensive as the sugo was expensive.

There is something a bit creepy about how I find myself approaching this blog: I feel that I have to make something new and exciting to post about. I would say this is just out of desperation for content, but no, usually I have plenty of other things I could write about, but instead I feel I have to put effort into something new to have permission to write these blog posts. As if somehow the effort put into making the thing is readable in what I write about the thing. God forbid I be lazy--it would show!

So instead I am lazy in other ways. The sweet potato gnocchi (because I had two sweet potatoes on the counter) recipe I wanted to use, chosen because of its lack of egg or egg yolk, which I am told yields softer gnocchi, called for straining the fresh ricotta with a sieve and a piece of cheesecloth for two hours. Not having either of these things, nor wanting to take another two hours, I searched for a recipe without eggs that used unstrained ricotta. I found it, but the first recipe cut a corner that this second one didn't: microwaving the sweet potatoes instead of baking them. Which took about twelve minutes. I have to say, making gnocchi went surprisingly quickly.

To be honest I'm sick of brown-butter-sage-cream sauce, but for once it seemed like the best possible sauce for these gnocchi. Sage and sweet potato (or pumpkin) go very well together, and gnocchi are lovely drowned in dairy fat. Actually, now that I think about it maybe the high-priced, secretive bistro with their own garden down the road has the right idea with gnocchi: Serve them in a light, almost soupy sauce of herbs, butter, and sauteed vegetables. The problem with cream sauces is that they only amplify gnocchi's richness. Which would be wonderful if served with something else, (something stewed, perhaps, and not overly rich), but on its own its difficult to eat very much of.

The ricotta is supposed to give gnocchi a desirable texture (not gummy, but fluffy). That was what I was most excited about this recipe. I had always made potato gnocchi with potato, flour, and an egg. The egg is supposed to be the inferior but easier way to make gnocchi. I can’t remember why. Maybe the dough is more difficult to handle without the egg?

I suppose I could do the whole “I will describe what I made in sensuous language” thing. They're orange pillows of delight--something like that. They were yummy, but I think maybe gnocchi should not be served alone. Or... Well, the most easily palatable way I've ever had them, actually, was with the tomato-butter-onion sauce. The gnocchi were not that great (dry packaged), but the sauce complimented them rather than doubled them. However, I'm not sure how well sweet potatoes would go with tomato sauce. Sweet with sweet? What would be the ideal sauce for sweet potato gnocchi?

They taste a bit like pumpkin pie (it must be the nutmeg), with sage. Maybe sage doesn't go with pumpkin and sweet potato after all. Who knows. What goes with anything else anyway?




12 October 2011