When Captain Crunch offered to cook us some sweet potato gnocchi before he left town, I was skeptical. I’d only had gnocchi once, in Italy no less, and it was nasty. Chewy, sticky lumps. But I trust the guy, and he didn’t let me down.
I’ve since tweaked his recipe and made my own, with the addition of some smoky mushrooms and pancetta to complement the slight sweetness of the gnocchi. Top it all off with Parmesan cheese, and you have a winner.
Many people like to combine sweet potato with sweet spices, like nutmeg and cinnamon, or maple syrup. I prefer to keep it savory– I think it’s more interesting. Additionally, this recipe calls for dried mushrooms, which are a great thing to have in the kitchen. They’re cheap, they keep forever, and when you prepare them you also get a nice mushroom broth, which can be used in other things.
1 sweet potato, well scrubbed
1/2 cup flour, or more depending on the climate
pinch of salt
Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Pierce the sweet potato with a fork and microwave until baked, perhaps five minutes. Using a fork, add the mushed flesh of the potato to the flour, discarding the skin. Mix the dough with your hands, adding just enough flour so the dough is workable. If you want to be fancy, roll the dough into a tube and cut pieces off, flattening with a fork on one end. I was feeling rustic so I just rolled the dough into teaspoon-sized balls.
Boil water, and add the gnocchi in manageable batches, stirring occasionally. The gnocchi are done when they rise to the top of the water, but make sure they aren’t stuck to the bottom. Drain in a collander, serve promptly with The Sauce and some fresh grated Parmesan.
1/2 cup dried mushrooms (I used oyster)
3 strips of pancetta
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp dried sage
Pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms and let sit ten minutes while you prepare the pancetta. Place pancetta in a pan and cook over medium heat until crisp. Drain off fat and wipe pan clean with a paper towel. Melt the butter in the pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to brown. Remove from heat. Crumble the pancetta and add it to the butter with the sage. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid (which can be used as a nice broth) and pat dry with paper towels, then chop into small pieces. Add to sauce. Stir sauce and pour over gnocchi, topping with fresh Parmesan.