My mother hates beets. And until I was in graduate school, and a friend served roasted beets at a dinner party, I thought I hated them too. Turns out I absolutely adore beets. She also hates olives, so I maintained that I did as well, and didn’t eat one until a high school trip to France, where I discovered the beauty of little Nicoise olives.
I was lucky, though, I suppose. My mother made most foods exciting, even healthy ones. Pulling apart artichokes was a fantastic game to get the heart, eating broccoli was devouring tasty little trees. One of my mother’s favorite meals is a simple baked sweet potato slathered with good butter. And her enthusiasm was catching. We had no idea that the sweet, orange flesh was healthy, we just knew that we loved it.
And while I generally believe that sweet potatoes need no adornment other than a pat of butter, the mild sweetness actually works as a wonderful foil for all sorts of flavors. So when I saw that the NC Sweet Potato Commission was looking for bloggers to come up with recipes, my mind began to whir. I love the contrast of sweet and salty, and took that as inspiration for these gnocchi. They are rich and pungent but light and sweet. Truffle oil is rarely a bad idea, but in this case it is especially exciting, bringing a deep savory essence to the sweetness of the gnocchi. The higher water content of sweet potatoes makes for a more doughy gnocchi, but I love that extra chewy bite, as it seems a bit heartier.
With so many flavors, so much depth, these gnocchi are a wonderful main course all on their own. They are impressive and beautiful enough to serve for a special occasion, but aren’t actually difficult to make. And you can even prepare the dough in advance. If you haven’t attempted gnocchi, give these a try, it’s easier than you think. And while rolling pretty little ridges into your gnocchi takes some practice, if they are crooked or off center or simply not there at all, I can promise you that nobody will notice once they taste them.
Sweet Potato and Gorgonzola Gnocchi with Truffle Oil
2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs)
2 eggs, beaten
8 ounces gorgonzola dulce, divided
21/2 cups flour, plus more for rolling
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons truffle oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prick the sweet potatoes all over, place on a baking sheet and bake 50-60 minutes until tender. Cool, peel and mash in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs. Reserve 4 tablespoons crumbled gorgonzola dulce and stir the remainder into the sweet potato mixture. Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well to combine. Add a few pinches of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Divide the dough into four portions. Turn out one portion on a floured surface. Knead lightly, and then roll out the dough into a long rope about one inch thick. Cut the rope into 1-inch portions. If you want, you can then roll the gnocchi on a fork to create ridges. Repeat with the remaining dough. (At this point, the gnocchi can be frozen in a single layer on a wax-paper lined baking sheet and then transferred to a freezer-safe container for up to a month).
Cook the gnocchi in a very large pot of boiling salted water. Once the gnocchi float to the top, boil for two minutes more, a total of about 5-6 minutes. Drain the gnocchi very well and divide among four plates. Sprinkle each plate with some of the reserved cheese, a bit of chives, and some additional black pepper. Drizzle each portion with truffle oil and serve right away.