I usually have a good sense of whether or not something is going to turn out. I thought for sure that I could make a Paleo gnocchi happen without a sweat. I couldn’t be more wrong. I have tried three times now to make something that comes close to those chewy, fluffy clouds of russets, flour and egg. Not sure that I’m there yet, but I know I’m getting close.
The biggest hurdle has been with flours–arrowroot and tapioca have been my choices for this experiment. Both of these have a gooey, gelatin quality about them, which is certainly translating into the gnocchi. By the time I get these buggers in the boiling water, they are disintegrating into something I barely want to look at let alone eat.
Last night after another failed round of the elusive gnocchi a thought occurred to me. There’s too much moisture… I need to dry these out a bit… I need to bake them.
I’m going to keep tweaking this, but for now I’m happy with where they stand. Since Paleo “pasta” tends to be made most commonly from blanched julienned zucchini, I’m fairly pleased to have something that more closely resembles the real thing. So without further ado, here is my baked gnocchi.
The ingredients are straight forward. You’ll need 2 medium sweet potatoes (not yams!), 1/2 cup tapioca flour, 1 egg yolk and a teaspoon of kosher salt. If you are using a finer grain salt, only toss in about a half teaspoon.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into chunks, boil. When fork tender, drain the water and rice the hot potatoes into a separate mixing bowl. Mix in the salt and tapioca flour. Once the potatoes have cooled a bit, mix in the egg yolk. If you don’t have a potato ricer, go ahead and use a regular masher. Be extra thorough with your mashin’! No lumps allowed!
Transfer the dough to a large ziplock bag and pop in the fridge. I left my dough to sit overnight. I’m not sure what the minimum amount of time would be, but I’m guessing it should chill out for at least two hours.
When it comes time to cook and serve the gnocchi, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Snip off the end of the ziplock bag to the width that you want your gnocchi–no more than a half inch. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or other silicone baking sheet (Parchment paper would work here too). Pipe the dough about an inch or so in length. Use the back of a fork to press the classic ridges into each little pillow. Pop in the oven.
I bake these for about 30 minutes, which means you’ll want to check on yours at 25 minutes. My oven is quirky.
At this point the gnocchi are done cooking, but need to get sauced before they’re ready to eat. Baked then sauced? These gnocchi have some serious bad habits…
I’m featuring these gnocchi prepared as simply as possible. I think all of us have a bunch of sauces or recipes that are in desperate need of a faux-starch host. From Spinach Pesto to Garlicky Bay Scallops, I know I have a few of my own.
The picture shows a handful of gnocchi sautéed in roasted garlic compound butter from earlier this week. Add the butter and gnocchi to a warm sauté pan, heat through and deglaze with about a quarter cup of chicken stock. Let the stock reduce for a minute, keep it moving. Pull the pan off the heat as soon as the stock looks more like a glaze, less like liquid. It’ll make sense once you see it. Plate it up and enjoy! These would go great with some quick cooked sausage and peppers (like we’re having tonight) or even as a side with an Easy Crock Pot Chicken. Sometimes for my sanity’s sake I like to pair more involved dishes like this one with others that spend most of their time roasting or braising.
**Another rendition of gnocchi exists on my page! I took some of the feedback I received from this recipe and came up with Grain-Free Gnocchi, if you are interested.*
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A few tools make preparing this gnocchi a little easier. The first is a potato ricer — a tool that presses hot potato through a large sieve to create rice-sized bits. This lends to a lighter texture in the gnocchi–traditional or Paleo. The other tool is a silicone baking sheet. Since these gnocchi have no fat, it’s guaranteed they will stick. A silicone baking sheet prevents that from happening. Here are some examples of what these essential kitchen gadgets look like: