carrot and sweet potato gnocchi with harissa and sun-dried tomatoes

18 Aug

“What’s your war horse?”

My what now?

“Your cavallo di battaglia. The thing that you do best, that you do to impress. Your speciality.”

Everyone has one. A trick to break the ice at parties, like juggling. An unexpected skill, an academic with a penchant for meticulous embroidery.

Most people also have at least one recipe for company. Even if they can’t cook. Maybe they are proud of their spaghetti carbonara with creme fraiche. (Blasphemy for an Italian, actually.) Maybe they can only make chocolate-banana bread, or breakfast pancakes, but really really well.

I think it would make a unique cookbook, one that was truly useful. A compilation of stand-by, fail-safe war horses.

Mine is almost certainly chicken, roasted or cooked slowly with cider and apples, with a simple dessert containing Nutella and mascarpone. If asked to produce proper patisserie, I would pick choux pastry swans because they are kitsch and cute, because I love the way choux goes PUFF in the oven from eggy liquid to air ball ready to be stuffed with cream and caramel.

Carrot gnocchi are not my specialty, they belong to someone else. They are special because they are vegetarian but interesting, a classic in an unexpected coat. I cheated a little, used sweet potato to make up for a dearth of carrots, tossed in some harissa and sundried tomatoes because they were in the fridge. I was impressed, though I say so myself.

They were a beautiful colour for a start, bright orange dotted with red. They are more like gnudi  – naked ravioli – a delicate filling only just held together by dint of a little egg, a little parmesan. More cheese on top, a generous amount of melted butter and it makes a dish that you will be sad to finish.

Carrot and sweet potato gnocchi with harissa and sundried tomatoes

recipe from Sara, as published by Emiko – serves 4 as main course, 6 for a starter

1kg carrots and/or sweet potato

100g ricotta

100g flour

2 tbs semolina/polenta flour

2 tbs grated parmesan

4 egg yolks

salt, pepper, nutmeg

to serve: 100g butter – 1/4 tsp harissa – handful sundried tomatoes in oil

Peel, cut carrots and sweet potato into chunks. Steam until soft. Mash roughly with a fork, let cool.

Mix all other ingredients, stir in cooled mash. Add salt, pepper and grated nutmeg to taste.

(At this point I like to leave the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up a little. But it’s not in the original recipe, so go ahead and make them straightaway if you’re hungry.)

Fill a large shallow pan with water and put on to boil. Heat a large serving dish in the oven with the butter and harissa in it. With two teaspoons, make small quenelles (lozenge shapes) not much bigger than a walnut in its shell and drop them into the water. Only put enough in the pan to make one layer or they won’t cook as well. Put the rest on a floured tea towel. When they float up to the surface after a couple of minutes, remove to heated serving dish. Repeat with the rest of the gnocchi. (Should be about 4 rounds unless you have an enormous pan.)

Gently toss gnocchi in the butter and harissa, sprinkle with sundried tomatoes chopped small.

Serve absolutely immediately. Have everyone waiting at the table, forks in hand. More parmesan is obligatory, extra harissa if you like it spicy.

3 Responses to “carrot and sweet potato gnocchi with harissa and sun-dried tomatoes”

  1. Ruth Mitchell October 9, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    These sound wonderful. I will give them a try. Your Mum’s spinach and ricotta gnocchi are my warhorse for an entree or to take to someone else’s party. You can make them the day before, and then reheat in the oven. The sweet potato and the spinach gnocchi would look lovely together in a dish! P.S. Congratulations on becoming a patissiere, and reaching two years in Paris.

    • sunflowerchild11 October 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

      What a good idea to make them together! Glad Mum’s recipe legacy is living on in Oz!


  1. rebecca’s salmon and lychee salad | tangerine drawings - February 8, 2014

    […] giving Rebecca the full credit! So here is her official acknowledgement; this will go down in my cavallo di battiglia folder to be made over and […]

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