Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Walnut-Blue Cheese Sauce
Do you ever feel like some foods are meant to be eaten on a date? I don’t mean fancy things like strawberries dipped in chocolate (yawn) or oysters (these are to be eaten with girlfriends. period) or fondue. Just very normal specific things that seem like they should be eaten somewhere nice, with a handsome face looking at you from across the table, maybe a few glasses of wine… you know, date food!
I have always felt this way about Gnocchi. I don’t know what it is about these pillowy little dumplings, but I just feel like they should be eaten on a date. Possibly because, for a lot of my life, something like gnocchi seemed exotic and exciting (but in all fairness, adding cheddar cheese to my mashed potatoes was exotic in my young adult life). And what better food to eat on a date than something exotic that you haven’t had any experience with?
I’ve had one previous experience with (ricotta) gnocchi and it was more than succesful. Life changing, even. And I’ve been meaning to play around with it more for some time. And then I saw a recipe for this, that and the other and forgot about it. But since I saw the recipe for sweet potato gnocchi in the Holiday Food & Drink magazine, I’ve been dying to try it out. The only problem was that I didn’t have the magazine with me at work today, and I couldn’t remember what sauce F&D used. So I decided I would just do a simple blue cheese-walnut cream sauce. A lovely little romantic dinner for two! Or… sort of.
Only one slight road block for this date night Very minor, really. Mr. Goudalife a) wasn’t home and b) doesn’t like gnocchi, blue cheese, or cream sauce. Option number two? Date night for one. I’ve always thought myself a good conversationalist, and maybe a little bit cute. I could date me (I couldn’t date me). So if you have a friend, significant other that has a selective palate (picky eater), and you really want to try something different, treat yourself to a little date night for one.
If you haven’t tried to make gnocchi before, please don’t be intimidated by it. It’s not nearly as hard as it seems. As long as you prep everything in advance and have everything ready to go, you’ll do fine. Work quickly and with a light touch. That’s my best advice. No charge this time.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
as seen in Holiday Issue of Food & Drink
1 1/4lbs Sweet Potatoes (2 large, 3 medium)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
Preheat oven to 400. Pierce sweet potatoes and place on baking sheet. Roast until fork tender, 45-60 minutes.
Remove potatoes from the oven and scoop out flesh. Press through a ricer, food mill or just mash really well making sure there aren’t too many lumps.
(This is a ricer. If you prefer your mashed potatoes to be flawlessly smooth, this is your new best friend!)
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the sweet potato to a bowl. Reserve the rest for another use.
Slowly stir in the egg, salt and 1/4tsp pepper.
Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time until incorporated. The dough will be a little sticky still. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead a few times until smooth. Divide into 6 sections. Roll each section out into a 1/2” log with a light touch. Cut into 1” lengths with a floured pairing knife. If you want the little ridges (great for holding a sauce) press floured fork tines into gnocchi and drag towards you. Place on floured baking sheet making sure they are not touching each other. Gnocchi can be covered and refrigerated for a day or frozen for 2 months.
If eating right away, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add gnocchi, no more than 15 at a time, to the pot. Stir constantly for 3 minutes, or until gnocchi float to the top of the water. Remove with slotted spoon.
Walnut-Blue Cheese Cream Sauce
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, rough chopped
1 tbsp butter
1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat, add the walnuts and butter and cook until melted. Add the white wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the cream and gorgonzola and cook until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Add your gnocchi to the sauce and toss to warm everything through. Serve as a side dish, on top of greens (I used arugula), or completely on it’s own!
Pour yourself a glass of wine, turn on some romantic jazz, and be sure to thank yourself for going through so much trouble and making you feel so special on your date. Thank you, self. But don’t expect any smooching.