Saturday 3 December 2016

Indy Power: Flavoursome nutritious and easy-to-make sweet potato gnocchi

Flavoursome and nutritious, my easy-to-make sweet potato gnocchi is a dinner party winner

Published 03/04/2016 | 20:43

Indy Power's sweet potato gnocci with herb and lemon zest
Indy Power's sweet potato gnocci with herb and lemon zest
Indy Power. Photo: Patrick Bolger

Homemade gnocchi sounds a bit daunting but this one is surprisingly easy and so delicious - it has just two central ingredients. There’s no eggs, so vegans don’t have to miss out. The subtle sweetness of the sweet potatoes complements the nuttiness of the buckwheat flour, so it isn’t just more nutritious than regular gnocchi, it has a little more flavour too.

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After the gnocchi is made, it’s pan fried in olive oil and garlic so the outsides go gorgeously crisp. Then the pine nuts, sage and lemon zest add incredible flavour. If making this for guests, make the gnocchi and boil it ahead of time, then just finish it off in the pan when you’re ready to eat.

Sweet potato gnocchi with herb and lemon zest

Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan friendly.

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

You will need

200g sweet potato purée (from 300g uncooked sweet potato)

125g buckwheat flour

2tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

5g sage

35g pine nuts

Zest of 1 lemon

Coarse salt and pepper

Method

To make the sweet potato purée, prick each sweet potato several times with a fork. Place the whole sweet potatoes in the oven at 200˚C and bake for 55-60 minutes until soft.

When they’re cool enough to handle, you should be able to remove the skins easily. Add the flesh to your food processor and blend until smooth.

Combine 200g of the purée with the buckwheat flour and knead it with your hands until you have a dough, it should be quite sticky.

Spread a little more buckwheat flour out on a clean, dry surface. Pat some flour between your hands too.

Divide the dough in two and, one at a time, use your hands to roll each piece into a long rope-like tube, about half-an-inch thick. Then cut into 1-inch pieces.

Boil a pot of water and add in a little olive oil and salt. Add the gnocchi and cook for about 4 minutes, until they have all risen to the top. Then scoop them out using a large slotted spoon and set them aside.

While the gnocchi is boiling, mince your garlic and finely chop the sage.

Add 2tbsp of olive oil to a large pan on medium heat. Add in the minced garlic, sage, pine nuts and some salt and pepper. Let it cook for a few minutes until the garlic softens and the pine nuts start to go golden.

Add in the gnocchi and toss well. Cook for another few minutes, tossing regularly, until the gnocchi have started to crisp on the outside, the pine nuts are golden and the sage is crisp.

Plate everything and sprinkle on your lemon zest and a good pinch of coarse salt and pepper before serving.

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Indy loves

If you’re not familiar with buckwheat flour, it’s made from ground buckwheat groats and, despite its name, isn’t related to wheat at all. It’s naturally gluten-free (although if you’re coeliac, watch out for cross contamination with some brands) and it’s high in fibre and rich in flavonoids, which help protect against disease and are great for heart health and controlling blood sugar. One of the best ways to use it — and my favourite — is in pancakes. It makes gorgeous, fluffy pancakes just like you’re used to but with way more nutrients than white flour. For buckwheat pancake recipes, from blueberry to chocolate chip, search for them on my website.

Stocking your larder

Whenever I post recipes with those harder to find ingredients, like buckwheat flour, I get tonnes of emails asking where I stock up on my ingredients. The great news is that those specialist items are becoming easier and easier to get your hands on.

I tend to do two weekly shops — a supermarket run and a trip to a proper health store. Personally, I love going to the actual stores because they inspire recipes ideas and really, I’m like a kid in a (healthy!) candy shop in there.

Select Stores in Dalkey (selectstores.ie) is my favourite, there’s nothing they don’t have. I also love Nourish on Dublin’s Wicklow Street and its online store, at nourish.ie, is so handy. As the nutrition movement gets ever stronger, health food shops are popping up everywhere and even more conveniently, our regular supermarkets are stocking up too.

If you only have time for a one-stop-shop, the health sections of big-name supermarkets are expanding before our eyes — today, they’ve got all the staples from coconut oil to ground almonds. Each branch is different so it depends on your local, but loads of them stock pretty much everything you could need. I find that Supervalu (supervalu.ie) is particularly good.

When all else fails, Amazon (amazon.co.uk) has it all.

Shop smart

With the abundance of health products on the market these days, it’s really important that you shop wisely. Often, identical products are sold by different brands at really different prices and when the products do differ it’s not always the most expensive that are best. Read labels, test which brands you like the taste of and, really importantly, take into account the price per weight or volume. The prices of bags of nuts, for instance, vary widely by brand.

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