When does cooking become more than just about food?
For me, growing up second generation Italian Australian my childhood memories are flooded with cooking and food, It’s in my blood. As far back as I can remember we would come together as a family and were surrounded by food. My grandparents grew their own vegetables in their suburban backyard unfazed by Mr and Mrs Jones next door peering over the fence gawking with envy at the juicy tomatoes, beans, broccoli and the gigantic mango trees that my Nonno took so much pride over. We celebrated many special events birthdays, Christmas, Holiday’s eating, laughing and enjoying each others company, it is what family is all about.
Last week was the 5th anniversary of my Nonnas passing and it only seems fitting to honour her memory with one of mine. As a young child when Nonna came to visit we would make her homemade Gnocchi. She would put on her apron, boil the potatoes and get us working. Mashing, rolling, little balls of dough spread all over the dining room table, enough gnocchi to feed a small village. Flour rubbed all over every part of our bodies, as you can imagine as a kid that was half the fun. Then we would come together as a family and enjoy the produce of our labour. They are the moments that become lasting memories and now I am doing the same thing with my children and hopefully they will with theirs.
Cooking is not just about the food on the plate or how fancy the end result is, it’s about coming together at meal time as a family or friends, talking, laughing, enjoying each others company because after all that is what we remember and what makes ‘food’ so special.
For you my dear Nonna Caterina ♥
A variation to the traditional potato gnocchi these are made with sweet potato and ricotta making them a lighter and softer gnocchi. Paired with some caramelised onions and steamed broccolini makes for a great weekend entertaining dish or a special family dinner.
Sweet Potato & Ricotta Gnocchi with Burnt Butter and Sage
A lighter, sweeter and softer gnocchi dish perfect for weekend entertaining or a special family meal.
2 large sweet potatoes
200g fresh ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups flour (plain, wholemeal, or spelt)
salt and pepper
fresh sage leaves
1 spanish onion cut into large chunks
1-2 bunches of broccolini
Extra ricotta to top
- Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and bake in a hot 200’c oven for 1 hour or until middle is soft
- Alternatively you can steam them in the microwave for 5-8mins for a quicker method, I like roasting time permitted as gives them a much sweeter robust flavour.
- Once soft in the centre peel skin off and in a large bowl mash sweet potato flesh with a fork.
- Let cool a little then add ricotta, teaspoon salt and pepper, 1 cup of the flour 1/2 cup at a time and with your hands gently mix together, adding the a little flour at a time until comes together and forms a dough.
- Turn onto a floured bench and knead gently until comes together and dough isnt sticking to your hands may need a little extra flour.
- Roll into a ball and cut into 8 pieces like a pizza. Roll each piece into long skinny rope like logs around 2cm thick
- With a knife cut into 2cm pieces you can roll them out on a textured board (can buy at kitchen stores *see pic) to make circular gnocchi or you can leave them as they are, lay onto a floured tray until ready to cook
- Repeat with remaining dough
- Boil a large pot of salted water on the stove
- Once Boiling add half gnocchi to the pot dusting off any excess flour, they are cooked once they float to the surface only takes a minute. Strain from the pot with a ladle and set aside repeat with remaining gnocchi.
- Heat a pan on med-high with butter and sage until the butter is bubbling, Add onion and cook for 1-2mins until soft and has caramelised when butter has turned slightly brown and sage has crisped add the gnocchi to the pan and coat in the butter.
- Serve gnocchi adding a little extra ricotta and drizzle the butter and sage over the top. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with steamed broccolini and caramelised onions.
Note: Time Saver; You can cook sweet potatoes, peel and mash them prior, even the day before and keep in the fridge until ready to make the gnocchi. Drain any excess liquid before making the gnocchi.