The Dark Days Challenge has 120+ participants from all over the U.S. doing the best we can to eat local during the winter months. Our challenge is to prepare at least one meal a week using only Sustainable, Organic, Local and Ethical (SOLE) ingredients, and then blog about it. Weekly recaps of the participant’s meals will be hosted by the fine folks at Not Dabbling In Normal every Sunday.
I have a confession to make. While I’ve eaten gnocchi before, I’ve never made it. That is, until yesterday. Making gnocchi has been on my radar screen ever since the folks at Curbstone Valley cooked up a batch last fall, using some of their abundance of heirloom winter squashes. I drooled over the photos, but that was as far as I got. Then I ran across them again while looking at some of the Dark Days meals at AnnieRie Unplugged. And again, my mouth watered
I decided I could easily make some SOLE gnocchi using ingredients on hand. Since we have an abundance of sweet potatoes, I decided to use them instead of winter squash. And I ground some of the local red wheat for the flour. Add a locally sourced egg, and I had the basics for making some gnocchi!
The recipe I loosely followed can be found here. The raw ingredients for the gnocchi are shown in the photo above. After scrubbing, I baked the sweet potato in a 425°F oven for about an hour, until it was really soft and tender. While it was baking, I ground enough wheat to make 2 cups of whole wheat flour. After the sweet potato cooled, I scooped out the yummy orange flesh and fluffed it up a bit with a fork. Then I added the lightly beaten egg, some grated nutmeg, and a bit of salt.
I mixed in about 2 cups of the flour for the amount of sweet potato I had (15 ounces). Once I got the dough right, I divided it into 4 pieces, shaped into logs, and cut into 1 inch pieces. Lacking a gnocchi board, I used the back of a fork to form grooves in the gnocchi. Then I cooked them in small batches for about 2-3 minutes, until they floated.
For a sauce, I made a brown butter sage sauce using some freshly harvested sage leaves, and a little butter. Our sage plant has gotten huge, and is loaded with soft grey green leaves. I don’t use sage in a lot of dishes, but I love it in herbed butter creations.
For a side vegetable, I sauteed a little of our Black Tuscan (aka Lacinato) kale. For seasoning I sliced two cloves of our 2011 garlic and added a bit of olive oil and salt. While the kale was cooking I soaked a few of our dried tomatoes in water to soften them. The kale cooked in no time. I threw in the tomatoes, and it was time to plate up the food and eat!
Once again, I have to say the kale stole the show for me. My first attempt at making gnocchi was so-so. I think when I make it again I will stick to a more traditional recipe and use softer flour and add either ricotta or Parmesan cheese (or both). It is possible to ruin a dish by trying to make it too healthy, and I think the whole wheat I used was just too much for the gnocchi. Plus I overcooked one batch, and that didn’t help either. But that didn’t stop us from cleaning our plates though!
I’ve already got a dish in mind for next week and the Dark Days Challenge. I am thinking comfort food, and something I’ve made a hundred times. I have all the ingredients on hand, and I’ll be back later to report on the results.
I think your meal looks fantastic! I like *cutting* my fresh-ground whole wheat with white flour, too…hard to do with the Challenge. I do have some hard white wheat a friend grew I grind and use…but it’s still not the same as the store-bought white flour.
My chickens got into the garden and ate all of my Kale and Chard! I’m hoping I can get it to recover by giving the left-over *stalks* lots of compost tea. Darn birds!
Sounds like your chickens have good taste in greens! 😀
I’ve seen a few recipes for sweet-potato gnocchi, and been very tempted to try it. I have quite a few sweet potatoes sitting in the kitchen I’m eager to use up. The ricotta may really help. I added it to ours as I was worried the squash might make the dough too dense, and they turned out very light. I wonder if you could just cut the whole-wheat with some AP to lighten them a little too, but not lose all of the texture and flavor of the whole-wheat flour?
I do believe ricotta and/or parmesan would improve the flavor. We have more sweet potatoes than squash at the moment, so it seemed to make sense to use them.
We have been falling in love with sweet potato enchilada’s this winter and your gnocchi looks like something we would also like. I had to look up gnocchi boards to see what they were all about…really neat, I had never seen them before.
I had to look up the boards too Mike! The fork worked well enough for me.
It looks fabulous! We’re doing a pantry challenge where we’re trying to eat out of our own pantry and I’m finding a lot more of my own produce and meats on my plate and buying locally. It’s a win-win!
I’ve never tried making gnocchi with sweet potato – not sure why not now. I do make pumpkin gnocchi quite regularly though. When I make it I only use about 100-200g (dependant on the water content of the pumpkin) of white flour for about 500g of pumpkin. Ie less than a cup of flour for about 17 ounces. It is easy to overwork and is a very sticky dough but it results in a light, soft gnocchi. I add parmesan cheese to the mixture and it works really well flavour wise.
I think next time I will cut back on the amount of flour, plus add some cheese to the mix. And I will probably use a mix of white and whole wheat. They were so easy to make, I want to make them again.
Love gnocchi, but never made it even though I keep promising myself to do so, you inspire me to get moving.
How do you ground your own flour? Special equipment?
Norma, we got the Nutrimill grain mill to grind our flours. We have used it to grind wheat, rice, corn, oats, spelt and even tiny amaranth seeds. It works great!
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Hi Dave, these look just like mine 😉
I agree. The spelt flour I used for Dark Days made mine a little heavier too.
I did find an interesting ingredient that worked with whole wheat flour, and which also should work with spelt. I got salsify in my CSA box, and last week used it to make fritters. Emily just posted my link on her blog today for the South participants.
I have to get a flour mill. We can get wheat berries and oats from a MD vendor and grind our own.
Thanks for sharing the recipe- I made it this evening, and the gnocci turned out great! It seemed like it would be such a tough thing to make, but it turns out it’s pretty easy, and satisfying to make homemade.
Thanks again 🙂