Pronounced Nyoh-kee, Gnocchi is a type of Italian dumpling traditionally made from potatoes and processed grains flour. Gnocchi means dumpling in Italian and is fairly easy to make, even for Paleo. An adjustment in the type of potato used and a mixture of almond flour and tapioca flour or the lighter arrowroot powder, produces a fabulous tasting gnocchi, and cooked right, are light and fluffy. After a quick boil, they may be enjoyed with a bolognaise topping or may be lightly fried in coconut oil or ghee and served in a salad with a pesto or dressing of choice.
In making this recipe which was enjoyed with a combination of both a bolognaise sauce and fried in coconut oil, then added to a salad, the initial few attempts rendered them dense and chewy which is not the consistency that it should be. With trial and error, and recipe adjustments, also ensuring that the egg white is well whisked till it is light and fluffy and using my hands to combine, slowly but surely, these gnocchi developed into the eye-talian kind.
These dumplings serve well for the once in a while comfort food indulgence, or as a pasta replacement. While tapioca flour is the highest in carbohydrates of all the nut flours, combined with the almond flour, it works well in replacing processed grain flours and smooths out the gnocchi dough too. It is essential that the sweet potatoes are oven baked, as boiled or steamed renders it less-nourished and difficult to work with in this gnocchi recipe due to the moisture content. While tapioca flour is used in this recipe, previous makes with arrowroot powder produced a gnocchi much lighter in density than the tapioca flour.
To make this gnocchi a vegan meal, you may use a chia egg mix (1 tblsp chia seeds to 1-2 tblsp water, mixed into a gel consistency).
These dumplings are an amazing comfort food delight. The extra gnocchi, unboiled, may be frozen for later use. Defrost and add to boiling water, then fry in a bit of coconut oil or ghee, they present beautifully!
2-3 large sweet potatoes, baked and skin removed. The cooked weight should total about 350g
1 1/2 cups tapioca flour or arrowroot powder (Add about 1/2 cup for rolling out the gnocchi)
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 tsp Himalayan or Sea salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda OR 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda + 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 egg white
- Prick a few holes in the sweet potatoes and bake them in a 200 degree Celsius oven for about an hour (or until the sweet potatoes are soft and done).
- Remove them from the oven and alllow to cool completely.
- Remove the skin from the sweet potatoes and then mash them in a large mixing bowl.
- Sift both the almond flour and tapioca flour, and add the flours in 1/2 cup at a time (1/2 cup almond flour, 1/2 cup arrowroot then mix well before adding more).
- After you have a whole cup of each flour added in, mix in the salt and bicarbonate of soda and mix well using your hands.
- Whisk the egg white until it is frothy and then stir it in.
- Continue adding in the flours until you reach a dough consistency that enables you to break off portions and roll into balls. For me, in Johannesburg, this equaled 1 1/2 cups of each flour. When I attempted this recipe in Durban, with about 5o0g of cooked sweet potato, 2 cups of flour each was used. You may need a little more or a little less depending on the humidity where you are. I also noted that arrowroot powder creates a light and fluffier gnocchi.
- Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
- After the dough has chilled, dust your counter top or a sheet of baking paper with tapioca flour.
- Use a handful of the dough and roll it out into a long rope shape with your hands. The dough should not be sticky but if it is, dust your hands lightly with tapioca flour.
Cut the rope lengths into segments about 2cm each. You may leave them in that shape or you can flatten them a bit with a fork dipped in tapioca flour.
Once all of the dough has been shaped and cut, drop each piece of gnocchi into a pot of rapidly boiling water. You will note that in about a minute, they will float to the surface. Allow them to cook for about 30 seconds after they float to the top and then remove them to a colander with a slotted spoon.
- At this stage the gnocchi is ready to serve with a sauce of your preference, and I chose a lamb mince bolognaise.
- I went a step further and added a tablespoon of coconut oil to a non-stick pan on the stove top, and lightly fried the gnocchi until golden brown.
- Once fried on both sides, remove onto absorbent paper then add to a salad and top with a dressing or pesto of choice.