Don’t be scared off by home-made gnocchi, they are easier than you may think and the process is one worth learning. I feel it is a right of passage everyone should take. To make your own pasta, knowing it has been made with real, whole foods is not only satisfying but the knowledge that you can make delicious easy gluten-free pasta using nutrient dense ingredients is pretty special too!
The dough or uncooked gnocchi can be frozen for easy suppers when you don’t have time. If you don’t have a gnocchi rolling board you can use the end of a fork to give the gnocchi a quick curl to create the same characteristic effect.
The best walnut pesto I ever had the pleasure of making was in Italy when the fresh mid-autumn walnuts were in season. Over time, walnuts become bitter so it is best to source freshly shelled walnuts when possible. It will make all the difference to this pesto.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Walnut Pesto & Sage
:: Ingredients ::
For the walnut pesto
- 400g (14oz/4 cups) fresh, shelled walnuts or raw ready-shelled walnuts if unavailable
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
For the gnocchi
- 200g (7oz) boiled sweet potatoes, pureed
- 300g (11oz/11⁄4 cups) chestnut puree
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 250g (9oz/2 cups) chestnut flour (or buckwheat flour if unavailable)
- 2 eggs
- Rice flour, for dusting
For the topping
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- Leaves from 2 sprigs of sage
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- To make the walnut pesto, preheat oven to 170°C fan/375°F/Gas 5.
- Place the shelled walnuts onto a baking tray (baking sheet) and roast in the oven until just golden. This should take 4–5 minutes. Remove from the oven and wrap the walnuts in a clean tea towel (dishcloth) and rub them together to remove their skins.
- Place the walnuts into a food processor along with the garlic, oil and salt and blend until smooth, adding a little more oil if needed to make a thick pouring consistency.
- Now make the gnocchi. Using the dough hook of your food processor, blend the sweet potato and chestnut purees, until combined, then add salt, nutmeg and a little of the chestnut flour at a time.
- Add the eggs, one at a time and process until dough is formed. The dough should be soft and elastic. If the dough is too sticky or dry add a little water or flour. (You can also mix it with a wooden spoon in a large bowl.)
- Divide the dough into 6 even portions. Wrap in Clingfilm (plastic wrap) and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the refrigerator and knead gently on a surface dusted with rice flour. Roll the dough into long, thin cylinders, about 1cm (1⁄2in) thick, then cut the cylinders into 2cm (3⁄4in) pieces. Roll each piece in rice flour, shaking off any excess. Now roll the pieces over a gnocchi board or press with a fork.
- Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and add half of the gnocchi. In about 5–8 minutes, when the gnocchi have started to float to the top, cook them for a further minute. Remove to a plate using a slotted spoon and repeat the process with the second batch of gnocchi.
- Coat the gnocchi in the walnut pesto and spoon into warmed shallow serving bowls with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Quickly heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and add the sage leaves once the oil is very hot. The sage leaves should crisp and go bright green quickly. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
- Serve over the gnocchi.
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