Thursday, 7 April 2011

Polenta dusted sweet potato gnocchi with tomato salsa

I was in possession of a rather large sweet potato (its size isn't of relevance to the taste of the dish but I had to mention it, the thing was gigantic) but I wasn't sure what to do with it, so I decided a little experiment was in order.

I'll be honest with you, these aren't as easy to make as ordinary potato gnocchi. They're rather sticky so you can't roll them out as easily or neatly, or cut them into cute little pillows, and whilst cooking I thought they'd all joined together in the pan as a single orange mass. I'm perhaps not selling them as I should, but trust me - kitchen alchemy will occur and they're well worth the work.

I served them with a light and easy tomato salsa, a scattering of Parmesan and a simple baked salmon fillet encrusted with crushed crisp pancetta and fennel seeds (mega easy, simply crush together in a pestle and mortar and press onto the side of a skinless salmon fillet and bake for 7 minutes exactly at 190 degrees).

For two:
400g sweet potato, roasted until cooked, then cooled, peeled and mashed
160g plain flour
A few gratings of nutmeg
25g grated Parmesan and more Parmesan for dusting
Sea salt and black pepper
A few pinches of ground nutmeg
A few handfuls polenta
3 or 4 juicy tomatoes, diced finely

One spring onion, top and tailed and finely cut
A teaspoon rice vinegar
A few glugs of extra virgin olive oil
Half a clove of garlic, finely chopped 

- In a bowl combine the chopped tomatoes, spring onion, olive oil, vinegar, a scrunch of salt and pepper and the garlic and set aside 
- In a large mixing bowl place the mashed sweet potato, then give a scrunch of salt and pepper and the nutmeg
- Bring a deep pan of salted water to the boil ready for when the gnocchis are all made, once boiling put the lid on and turn it down
- Use a fork to combine the mixture, gradually add the flour and Parmesan to the potato  until its all combined - you might want to use a hand part way through to get this all done. Don't be scared that its a bit sticky, it'll all come good
- Lightly dust a clean work surface with a mixture of plain flour and the polenta, then turn out the ball of gnocchi and lightly and briefly knead it in the flour and polenta until its a little less sticky
- Break it into 2 pieces and then gently roll each out in turn until they're like flattish sausages, then cut them into roughly 1cm wide pieces
- Once all of them have been cut as in the picture above, lightly sprinkle over some more polenta to cover their cut edges
- Now sweep them off the work surface (as if you were sweeping crumbs away) and onto a plate - this is the easiest way to get them into the pan to cook
- When you're ready to cook them, make sure the pan of water is a rolling boil, then pour them all into the pan off the plate and put the lid back on
- They'll take a couple of minutes to cook and you need to just stir them once. They'll be ready once they start bobbing up to the top
- Drain them once ready then pour them back into the pan, give them a scrunch of salt and pepper, a glug of olive oil and a grating of Parmesan. Plate the gnocchis and drizzle the tomato salsa over the top, then devour

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