Recipe: Sweet potato and ricotta gnocchi with almond pesto

anna jones Sweet potato and ricotta gnocchi with almond pesto

Anna Jones, author of A Modern Way to Cook, shares her recipe for a deliciously easy, winter warming gnocchi.

These gnocchi are my kind of comfort food – light but hearty little sweet potato and ricotta dumplings, tossed in a quick, sweet basil and oregano pesto. Hearty enough for a winter dinner in front of the fire but fresh enough in flavour for an incredible summer supper.

This recipe goes against the gnocchi rules I learnt as a chef. We used to make gnocchi with almost no flour and super-dry baked potatoes; it was delicious but took some skill and a great deal of patience. This is a foolproof gnocchi recipe that comes together in a life-friendly time.

The addition of some flour means the gnocchi are much easier to handle if you haven’t made them before, and they are still utterly delicious.

If you are vegan, leave out the ricotta and use 200g more of sweet potatoes. The recipe can easily be made with a gluten-free flour, such as buckwheat flour, as in this case the slightly drying nature of gluten-free flours is a plus.

Any leftover, uncooked gnocchi will keep well in the fridge for 2–3 days.

Serves 6–8

800g sweet potatoes
200g ricotta cheese
300g light spelt flour
1 free-range or organic egg yolk
a little butter
olive oil

For the pesto
2 large bunches of fresh basil
a small bunch of fresh oregano
50g blanched almonds
1 unwaxed lemon
extra virgin olive oil
a good grating of pecorino or Parmesan cheese (I use a vegetarian one), optional

Fill and boil the kettle and get all your ingredients together.
Peel the sweet potatoes, cut them into large 3cm pieces and steam them; this will take about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make your pesto: put the herbs and nuts into a food processor with the zest and juice of the lemon and blitz until you have a grassy green paste, then add olive oil gradually until you have a spoonable pesto. If you want to loosen it without adding too much oil you could add a tablespoon of water. Season well with salt and pepper.
Put a large pan of boiling salted water on a high heat. Drain the sweet potatoes, allow them to steam dry for a couple of minutes to get rid of as much moisture as possible, then mash them well with a potato masher or a potato ricer.
Fold in the ricotta, flour and the beaten egg yolk. Leave the mixture for 5 minutes, then, on a well-floured surface working with a quarter of the
dough at a time, roll it into two long, fattish sausages about 2cm in diameter.
Leave for a further couple of minutes to firm up.
Cut the sausages into short 2cm pieces. Keep these to one side while you roll and cut the rest of the gnocchi. Drop them into the boiling water
and cook until they rise to the top.
Meanwhile, warm four bowls. Once the gnocchi have risen to the surface, scoop them out of the pan into a big bowl, then stir through the pesto before dividing between the four bowls with an extra grating of Parmesan or pecorino, if you like.

For more of Anna Jones’ recipes, check out the new issue of FQ Life, on sale now!