I had JUST graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and all my friends had their jobs secure. People kept asking me what I was going to do now. Shyly, I’d tell them I was going to take a break from engineering to explore something I’ve always wanted to- cooking. Fast forward to my first job after university. I showed up to a vegan restaurant in Italy asking for experience even if it meant I couldn’t earn money (I taught English to make money on the side). The chef told me to come back the next week for a trial day and that if I didn’t have basic kitchen skills, he may not take me.
It was lunch time. Things were moving a lot faster than I was used to in my tiny kitchen at home. The first thing I had to make that day was gnocchi (and it was my first time making them!) My Italian was rusty, but I was managing. I remember he kept saying “Khalia, sei troppo lenta!” which means “you’re too slow” (I got the job though, haha) Gnocchi have a special place in my heart...so many memories attached to these soft, pillow-y potato dumplings, that you can toss in whatever sauce/condiment your heart desires.
And don’t be intimidated by them!! They’re not difficult to make at all...just follow the steps below :) (or in the recipe video: https://youtu.be/FNZsbp3TZRs)
2.2 pounds (1 kg) sweet potato
2 3/4 cups (350 g) all purpose flour
salt to taste
Boil the sweet potatoes, with their skin on, until cooked. When they are cool to touch, peel and set aside to cool completely. (*see Notes)
Flour two baking sheets or trays and set aside.
Mash the sweet potatoes as smooth as you can. Incorporate the salt and flour, then knead until a smooth dough forms. It should be soft, but not sticky.
Divide the dough into smaller pieces. Flour your surface, then take each piece and roll into a long rope about 2 cm in diameter. Use both hands to roll it, simultaneously moving them from the center of the "rope" to the ends. Cut 2 cm pieces to get your gnocchi.
Lightly coat the gnocchi in flour before spreading them out on the baking sheets. (**see Notes)
Roll the gnocchi over the back a fork, applying a little pressure, to form the infamous ridges. (You can completely skip this step. It takes some time if you're making a lot of gnocchi)
Cook the gnocchi in salted boiling water in batches, not all at once. You'll know they're ready when they float up to the surface.
Drain and add to your favourite sauce or condiment.
*Cooking the sweet potatoes with the skin on and letting them cool completely reduces the amount moisture in them. This means we won't have to add as much flour to form a dough, resulting in soft, pillowy gnocchi.
**Gnocchi stick together very easily, so don't pile them on top of each other and ensure that both they and the surface you're placing them on are lightly floured.