Gnocchi is an Italian word meaning dumplings. (The singular being gnocco.) Gnocchi is traditionally made with potatoes and flour. However, I have read that in some parts of Italy, chestnut flour had been used to make this dish in historical times.
Chestnut flour is made by grinding dried chestnuts. It is available in some supermarkets and bulk food stores in the Greater Toronto Area. I have been able to find it at Highland Farms and Johnvince Foods.
I have taken the very historical recipe and have put a modern twist on it. I decided to use sweet potato instead of regular white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a vegetable that is related to potatoes, but contain a rich amount of nutrients, including beta carotene (giving it its rich orange colour). Beta carotene is the same substance found in carrots that give them the same colour.
Generally, gnocchi is extremely easy to make. Sweet potato chestnut gnocchi is no different. Begin with any sized sweet potato. Wash and cut the sweet potato into half-inch discs. You may keep the skin on, as the vegetable is easier to peel once cooked.
Boil the medallions in lightly salted water until they are tender. Basically, cook them to the point where it is easy to pierce a fork or knife through them.
Once cooked, remove the skins. (I told you it would be easier to do this afterwards!)
The sweet potatoes can be mashed easily using a fork.
There are no measurements for making gnocchi. You must slowly kneed in enough chestnut flour to form a dough. The finished product should:
- feel slightly firm
- be able to form a ball
- not stick to the sides of the bowl or your hands
Once your dough is made, "make a snake".
Cut the "snake" into small pieces (approximately the width of your index finger).
Using the back of a fork, and with light pressure, roll the pieces of dough against the fork so that a slight mark is made on each dumpling.
You may set the raw gnocchi aside on a kitchen towel. Do not overcrowd the gnocchi or pile too many on top of each other.
To cook the gnocchi, simply place them in salted boiling water. Once cooked, the gnocchi will rise to the top. This process should only take approximately 2 minutes. You may remove them from the boiling water using a slotted spoon. Do not over cook the gnocchi.
The gnocchi can be enjoyed in any way you normally eat pasta. Keep in mind that it is a relatively "heavier" dish.
This type of gnocchi is so flavourful, I like to have it with only a drizzle of high-grade extra virgin olive oil.