In our home Gnocchi is special, and not due to the fact that I come from an Italian family. My great grandfather was off the boat Sicilian, with his thick wonderful accent and amazing worth ethic. I grew up attending family get together's with huge spreads of food- pizzelle cookies famously always being made by my great aunt were and continue to be a favorite.
But Gnocchi, frankly I had never even heard of it! Not until I met my husband. He's not Italian in the least bit, but he had spent much time in a friends home who's mother made ricotta gnocchi from scratch in giant batches. Being the new girlfriend, to this guy that I was (and am) crazy about.. I had to figure out how to make this coveted gnocchi that he often spoke about. Seven years ago, I knew nothing about cooking and baking. Infact my husband had to teach me how to cook chicken! But I was determined to impress him, and impress him I did! I made incredibly delicious little dumplings of heaven, and he taught me how to roll and shape each little piece of dough.
As the years have passed Gnocchi has been made time and time again. Its something Rich and I always do together. As our diets have changed from using bleached white wheat flour, to gluten free grains and now paleo the gnocchi recipe has lovingly been altered to meet our needs.
Last night for the first time together we made a giant batch of Grain Free Sweet Potato Gnocchi, and it was damn good. The almond flour adds an incredible tenderness and gives them the perfect mouth-feel. Dare I say, these are the best gnocchi we have ever made, and thats saying a lot.
Don't fool yourself, this gnocchi is not carb free- the starch provides plenty of carbs, and it is important to the recipe as it plays a crucial role in the texture and holding the dough together. But, I can tell you that this gnocchi is much MUCH healthier than your average pasta recipe. Its loaded with protein, and has a much lower carb count than those made using wheat or even gluten free grains. Thanks to the almond flour this pasta is filling. You won't need to eat a lot.
Making a big batch of this delicious pasta is our tradition. We place the finished nuggets on cookie sheets sprinkled starch to prevent sticking and we freeze them. Once frozen we place them in freezer bags and throw smaller portions into boiling water to cook as we want them. This way they last us a week or two, or can be pulled out as a last minute gourmet meal for company! I highly recommend making the big batch that I provide ingredients for below. If you aren't ready to commit to using that much flour, feel free to divide the recipe in half.
- 3 1/2 Cups of Mashed Yam or Sweet Potatoes (roughly 3 large potatoes)
- 1 Tsp. Xanthan or Guar Gum
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 2 Large Eggs
- 6 Cups Blanched Almond Flour
- 4 1/2 Cups Tapioca Flour (Potato Starch or Arrowroot will also work- or a mix of any of them).
- Additional Almond and Tapioca Flour for dusting.
- Prep your potatoes. Peel, Cube and Boil them until tender. Mash the potatoes in a bowl and then let them rest until they cool to room temperature.(You just don't want them steaming hot so that they cook the eggs).
- Once the potatoes have cooled stir in the xanthan gum, salt and eggs.
- Begin adding in a cup by cup the Almond Flour and Tapioca. After adding a cup, stir the dough, then add another cup. Slowly the dough will become firmer and less sticky. The finished dough you will be able to roll out in your hands without it sticking like crazy. It may still be a little sticky on the inside, but as long as you can roll it between your hands its perfect.
- Dust a cutting board, or counter top with equal parts Almond Flour and Tapioca. Take a handful of dough and roll it out in the flour like a snake. You want it only about an inch thick. Using a knife slice "the snake" into smaller pieces. Each piece should be no larger than an 1/2 inch wide.
- At this point, you can use a gnocchi board to shape the dough extra fancy as I have, or just leave the gnocchi in its square shape. It doesn't really matter, as they will taste exactly the same!
- Dust 3 baking sheets with a little tapioca flour and place the finished gnocchi on the 3 trays. Place the trays in the freezer. Once the gnocchi is frozen remove it from the trays and place into freezer safe bags. Store in the freezer until you are ready to use.
Note: The gnocchi can be cooked fresh as soon as you finish making it! To cook bring a pot of water to a boil and add the gnocchi. Let it cook until it floats for maybe 30 seconds. Remove and eat! To cook the frozen gnocchi you will follow the same process except the cooking time will take 2 minutes.
If you want to take the gnocchi to another level of bliss, try throwing the finished cooked pasta into a hot skillet with either butter or oil. Saute it until it develops a delicious crust. You will thank me for this idea.
Making this recipe without the xanthan or guar gum will probably work. You may need to use a little extra starch, and the texture may suffer slightly.. but if you are extremely opposed to the idea of gums, give it a try.
It might be possible to make this recipe without the eggs. They will not cook up quite as firm, but the starch should hold them together enough that they are still quite edible. If you want to experiment in that department, I hereby give you the reigns to do so. Pay attention to the stickiness of the dough, and adjust your flour levels accordingly. If you leave out the eggs, please report back to all of us how they turned out!
The eggs could probably be replaced with duck eggs! ( A safer option for those sensitive to eggs). Duck eggs are larger and therefore you will probably need a little bit more flour and starch to get the dough to the right consistency.
The sweet potatoes could probably be replaced with Pumpkin Puree or White Mashed Potatoes. I'm hesitant to recommend mashed cauliflower as I'm not sure that its starchy enough.
Make this Gnocchi. You will not regret it. I promise.