I am totally not one of those people wishing summer away as we get to the tail end of the season with thoughts of pumpkin spiced this and cider donuts that, I swear. But when Ginger woke me up yesterday morning at 7:15 (about 2 hours too early for a lazy Sunday) to be let out and I stepped onto the porch half awake, I was blasted by that amazing fall-like crispness in the air that you forget about in the muggy months of June-August. And I’m not gonna lie, I kinda liked it. At least for a day. So I spent the early afternoon indulging in this “almost fall” weather by making sweet potato gnocchi and simmering a bolognese sauce on the stove because after today, there will be no more of that fall cooking stuff until October 1. Winters suck way too much in NY to waste August on sweet potatoes, cinnamon and beef sauces.
According to that line of thought, I probably should’ve saved this post for about 2 months from now but reality is that I had two recipes flop face first this weekend and this was my only saving grace. I’d say sorry but I’m not really. If you make it, you’ll see why.
Somewhere within the first year of dating Ulysses we went to this horrific local pasta restaurant for dinner. Think Olive Garden but multiply the gaudy Italian-American white, green and red décor by about 10 and take away the chain restaurant aspect. Among the standard parmesans of the chicken, veal and eggplant variety, there was gnocchi. We silently looked over the menus for a minute or two when Ulys blurted out “what’s GA-NOTCH-EE?” I looked up, stared at him and said “I’m not sure we can date anymore.”
13 years later, he walks in from the garage, comes into the kitchen, looks at the sheet pan full of these and says “are these GA-NOTCH-EE??!” Aren’t I lucky?
The best part of making gnocchi is the fun little lines. I decided to play around with video a bit to show you how I do it at home since I don’t have that fancy line roller thingy. Please ignore my perpetual state of workout clothes, the fact that I never show my face and my amateur editing skills. It may also be slightly obvious that I’m Italian by the amount of gesturing my hands do in the span of 1 minute and 34 seconds.
At least there’s only one direction to go from here. Dressing myself properly next time might be the first step.
As if his gnocchi ignorance wasn’t blatant enough by the butchered pronunciation, Ulysses tried to eat one off the pan at this point of the prep. They’re cute and all, but I do suggest actually cooking them before consumption. Raw flour is never really a good taste. I debated for about .5 seconds whether to tell him that as he held it in his hand.
You could definitely stop at this point, boil them off, toss in some butter, olive oil, rosemary and call it a delicious meal but I decided to go all out and make a quick bolognese sauce to boot. If you think adding cinnamon and nutmeg to ground beef sounds weird, I’m with ya. But I took a chance and did it anyway to mimic the flavors in the gnocchi and it turned out way better than I ever thought it would. It’s meaty and hearty with a hint of cinnamon sweetness that pairs so well with the sweet potato gnocchi. Basically, it’s fall in your mouth.
We ate this around 3pm and then hiked almost 5 miles until 7pm (after making about 5 wrong turns at different trailheads) and I still wasn’t hungry when we got home. It’s that filling.
I’ll allow you one “fall” cooking day to make it if you promise to come back to basil, tomatoes and watermelon for the next 4 weeks. Fight the pumpkin urge!
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan
- ½ cup almond flour
- ½ cup buckwheat flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- 1lb. ground beef (I use 85% lean)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 3 small carrots, chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- salt & pepper to taste
- Clean and scrub potatoes well. Poke holes around the outside of each potato using a fork or knife. Wrap loosely in a paper towel and microwave until fork tender. This took me two rounds of the "potato" setting on my microwave.
- Remove potatoes from microwave, set aside and let cool.
- Once cooled, scoop flesh out of skins and transfer to a medium bowl.
- Mash sweet potato until smooth.
- Add remaining ingredients and mix until dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead into a ball. Add additional flour as needed to get the dough into a workable state so that it's not too sticky. I added about 2-3 tablespoons of buckwheat flour.
- Generously flour a surface and cut the ball of dough into 4 sections.
- Roll each section out into a long, even snake-like roll.
- Using a knife, cut off in ½-1 inch sections.
- You can leave gnocchi as is or roll each section with your thumb along the tines of a fork (see video above) to get the standard lines.
- Set gnocchi pieces aside on a parchment lined sheet pan.
- You can freeze them at this point and cook off later (from frozen) or, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook until they start to float (about 3 minutes).
- Remove gnocchi from cooking water carefully with a slotted spoon or strainer and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Once hot, add garlic, onions and carrots and saute for 3 minutes until softened.
- Add ground beef and cook until browned. Drain fat from pan carefully if desired at this point.
- Add tomatoes, rosemary, parsley, seasonings and tomato paste and simmer over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Top gnocchi with spoonfuls of bolognese and serve.