Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with a Chunky Vegetable Vodka Sauce

I will be honest with you all from the get go. Making gnocchi is more time consuming then most dishes. Don't let that deter you though. Homemade gnocchi are fluffier and more flavorful then their dense store bought counterpart. They are a great dish to make with your significant other. It's a project. It's time to hang out, talk, and roll out and cut dough. These probably take 30-45 minutes longer to prepare then packaged gnocchi. You will probably find yourself cursing my name as you roll the dough out into ropes and cut each one inch piece. I'm not scared though. It's a risk I'm willing to take because I know when you have that first bite you will be both impressed with yourself and singing my praises. We are all going to be better for it.

The sweet potato and the chunky vegetable vodka sauce are quite delightful together. This vodka sauce also would be great on any pasta. I think it's really tasty. This sauce is a spin off of Kate's Famous Meat Sauce. Yes, it may be self proclaimed, but my meat sauce over pasta is a favorite dish in this house. We eat it more times a year than anything else. Someday soon I will share it with you. The basis of the sauce and this sauce is sauteed celery, carrots, onion, and garlic, deglazed with red wine, add tomatoes, and pinch of brown sugar. It's a good jump off point for any tomato based sauce. In the case of the vodka sauce, I added vodka (no kidding) and half and half. The sauce is easy to make and plays really well with the slight sweetness of the gnocchi. So give it a try. You trust me right? It's worth the little extra effort. 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with a Chunky Vegetable Vodka Sauce 
Serves 4

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and roast the sweet potatoes for 1 hour, while you make the sauce. 

Chunk Vegetable Vodka Sauce
2 tbs olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup wine 
1 can of diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
2 tbs sugar 
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

I recommend making the sauce first and then reheating it once your gnocchi are done. 

In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add the garlic and stir until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add onion, carrot, and celery and cook stirring occasionally until the onion has become translucent, 7-10 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by about 1/2. Mix in tomatoes and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low. Simmer sauce for 10 minutes. Finally, add the vodka, half and half, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Reheat sauce over low heat, when you start to boil the gnocchi.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi
1 lbs sweet potatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup all-purpose flour 
 Parmesan for serving 

Once the sweet potatoes have cooled, mash them, salt, pepper, and nutmeg  together with a potato masher. Add 3/4 cup of the flour and stir. At this point you want to keep adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is still slightly sticky but you can handle it. You may end up adding the whole cup or you may not. 

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. 

On a lightly floured surface, break off about a 1/5 of the dough and use your hands to roll it into a 1/2 inch thick rope. Cut the rope into 1 inch sections. Do this with the rest of the dough. If you want, use a fork and press gently into each gnocchi. This helps the sauce stick to the gnocchi but it's optional. 

Add about 8-10 gnocchi at a time to the boiling water. Once they rise to the surface, they are done. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place in a colander. Repeat with the rest of the gnocchi.

Serve with your vodka sauce and some Parmesan. 

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