Simply Whole Kitchen

November 9, 2011

Noni's Gnocchi

My favorite part about food isn't the cooking or the eating, it's the memories that each delicious bite brings. Most of my favorite memories are brought back to me through the food I make and eat. This one is particularly special to me.
Gnocchi have always held a special place in my heart. I remember helping my grandmother make these when I was young. They've always been a special comfort food for me, reminding me of my past, my family's culture, and my present. And I found myself calling on my grandmother to help me make them today.

My grandmother, my mom's mom, isn't dead...she is in a nursing home. She is completely unaware (well, most of the time) of who she is or who anyone around her is. But that isn't the woman I remember and the woman I honor with these gnocchi today. She was loving, passionate, caring, strong-willed, and faithful.

These gnocchi aren't how she would have made them, but I think she would have been pleased with my modern translation.

She would have told me to make them a little bit smaller, or to roll the dough more gently...she knew I was always in a hurry to get it done and move onto the next thing. She tried to teach me to not only love the food (the end product) but love it as you are making it. I can taste that when I taste these and I could hear her telling me to slow down...and I did Noni, I did.

You can buy these packaged, but if you have time to make them you won't ever go back. Traditional gnocchi are made with white potatoes and flour which I substituted with sweet potatoes and whole wheat white flour. These substitutions made for a denser dumpling, but delicious all the same. Plus, sweet potatoes are really good for you and add just a bit of sweetness to this recipe along with lots extra nutrition. Since gnocchi are usually served in a savory preparation, I sauteed these with a little brown butter and sage at the end.
I hope you enjoy these little Italian dumplings as I do, and try to add some love into them as you make them...for Noni.

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Gnocchi
recipe from A Couple Cooks

1 large sweet potato (or two small, about 1 lb)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat white flour
1 egg
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh sage
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper to taste
parmesan cheese (optional topping)

First you need to cook the sweet potatoes. I cooked mine in the microwave. First, wash your potatoes then wrap them in a damp paper towel and prick them with a fork (all over). Microwave on high for 6-8 minutes or until tender and cooked through (time depends on microwave and how big the potatoes are, if not done, add more time in 1 minute increments).
Let the potatoes cool then scoop out the flesh out of the skins into a bowl. Mash them with a potato masher until smooth. Add the egg, parmesan cheese, salt and flour. Mix with a spoon (or I did this part with my hands) and then kneed until a dough forms. If needed, add additional flour (by the tbsp) until dough is not sticky and in a workable state.
Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil while you complete the following steps.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface or cutting board and form a circle. Divide the dough into four parts.
Roll each part out into a long, skinny roll. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/2" pieces off the roll to form the gnocchi. Use your hands to re-form the gnocchi into a rectangle if needed.
At this point you can either freeze the gnocchi for another time, or boil them to eat them right away. (note: I don't know why you would do that. These are too amazing to wait on, and you can always eat the leftovers the next day!) To freeze, place the gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put them into the freezer. Once they are frozen you can put them in a zip-lock bag for use later. These can be boiled directly from the freezer and don't need to be thawed.
When ready to serve, boil the gnocchi until they float. When they float, they are done (3-5 minutes).
In a saute pan, melt the butter with the olive oil and julienne (thinly cut) fresh sage. Then add the gnocchi and toss to coat in the butter sauce.
Cook the gnocchi for several minutes until slightly browned and stirring in between so that the gnocchi don't stick to the pan. Serve immediately topped with fresh parmesan. Enjoy!

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Anonymous mom said...

This brought tears to my eyes.....thank you!
Yes, this was not Noni's recipe, but she would
be soooo very proud of you and what you've become. So, for Noni I say " I love you and
am so proud of you".

I will try these soon, as I am sure they are

November 9, 2011 at 10:22 PM  
Anonymous hungry hubby said...

turned out to be quite a side item. These sweet potatoes go into more recipes than I originally thought!

November 10, 2011 at 12:12 AM  
Anonymous Cristen said...

I remember being in Noni's kitchen, covered in flour, trying to work as gracefully and skillfully as she did. Your gnocchi look great, and I didn't remember them being so easy to make. I guess to a child, the process felt like it took forever. Thanks for reminding me how simple and sweet homemade can be. We'll be trying these soon!

November 10, 2011 at 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Sonja @ A Couple Cooks said...

So glad you enjoyed the recipe! And what a sweet story about your Noni - thank you for sharing this fond memory :)

November 10, 2011 at 4:31 PM  

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