Man, making this gnocchi took a lot of time, especially since I had to re-shape all of them after a chef-friend pointed out my first attempt were GIGANTIC. Luckily, it’s quite a “zen” activity.
And can I say, warm toasted hazelnuts right off the stove are an amazingly fragrant snack!! I’m surprised I had any left for the dish! I was worried this was going to be tasteless since the only spices were some salt and pepper – but WOW! A bit of salt brings out the total deliciousness of the arugula and the hazelnuts add their own special flavor. I didn’t taste sweet potato though, but my recollection last time I had gnocchi at a restaurant was that it didn’t taste like anything either? Hmmm, user error?
Recipe (serves 4)
1lb sweet potatoes
1c all-purpose flour
1 large bunch arugula, coarsely chopped
1/3c hazelnuts, crushed or chopped
3-4T extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
- Boil the sweet potatoes until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and let cool a minute or two; peel the skins off (they should slip off easily). Working while the potatoes are still hot, pass them through a ricer or food mill (or substitute a colander with similar-sized holes and a spatula). Immediately add about half the flour and fold into the potato mixture with a spatula. Continue adding a little more flour until the dough just comes together and won’t stick to your floured hands. Turn onto a floured cutting board and separate into two or three balls. Roll each one out into a roughly one inch-thick log, and cut into roughly one square inch pieces. Sprinkle with flour and roll the pieces around with the flour on all surfaces. Optional: press a fork onto one surface of each piece to create the classic gnocchi shape.
- Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet and add the hazelnuts. Toast for about 2-3 minutes, shaking the pan frequently. Remove from the pan just as you begin to notice some sides of the nuts darkening. Transfer to a bowl or a cutting board to crush or chop.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Work in two batches to ensure that the water keeps at a rapid boil: add half the gnocchi to the water. Let cook about 3-4 minutes, until they just float to the surface. (Depending on how large your gnocchi is, this may take longer or shorter.) Taste a gnocchi that has risen to the surface; if it still tastes doughey and is very soft, continue boiling for a minute or two longer.
- Meanwhile, heat a large, heavy-bottomed pan with about half the olive olive and when it’s hot, add the arugula and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir frequently for about 2 minutes, until the arugula is just wilted. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the finished gnocchi to the pan with the arugula. (You’ll be transferring some of the cooking water as you do so, too.) If desired, toss in an extra splash of the cooking water, if things are sticking to the bottom of the pan. Season with more salt and pepper, and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. Transfer to serving plates and top with the crushed hazelnuts. Finish with the optional garnish of grated nutmeg. Serve immediately.