Sweet Potato and Ricotta Gnocchi with Lamb Ragu

Friday, 18 March 2016

Making any kind of pasta from scratch is always daunting, because of all the equipment and ingredients and kneading and time and effort involved. You have to have the correct 00 pasta flour and lots of eggs and lots of kneading room and hands are sticky and you need a hanging surface area. I love it, but as you all know, I'm lazy.

Enter this sweet potato and ricotta gnocchi. Which comes together with a fork, in one (big) bowl, and requires minimal sticky hands. Minimal! 

We just had leftover baked sweet potato from dinner, which is what I used for this. If you don't have sweet potatoes handy, not all is lost. To stick with the one bowl-ness, though, simply peel and roughly chop up two sweet potatoes, and microwave with 2 tablespoons of water in a large bowl in 5 minute bursts until fork tender. Let cool, and then add in all the other ingredients. Alternatively, you can boil them like a normal, non-lazy human. Your call.

The ragu is even simpler: I used lamb, chilli and rosemary sausages from the deli, squeezed out of the casing. All flavour and seasoning included. Simmered with some garlic, bay leaves, more rosemary and tomato paste, and that's it!

Sweet Potato and Ricotta Gnocchi with Lamb Ragu
Serves 4

For the Gnocchi

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked, mashed, and cooled to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup ricotta, drained
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup plain flour, plus 1/2 cup for extra/dusting
  • pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon to taste
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, chopped up very finely (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, mash together the potatoes and egg with a fork. Slowly sift 1/4 cup flour into the bowl, using a fork or spatula to fold the mixture over and over on itself. Add in 1/4 cup of ricotta and continue folding the mixture over. Add in the pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and rosemary, if using.  Repeat with the remaining 1/2 cup of flour and ricotta, making sure everything is fully incorporated. It should be light and fluffy and not sticky. If the mixture is too wet, keep adding in tablespoonfuls of flour until it comes together, away from the sides of the bowl. Gather the dough together and shape a soft, pillow ball. 
  2. Dust a clean bench, or a large chopping board with flour. and turn the dough pillow out onto it. Cut the pillow into equal quarters, and then roll each quarter into logs. Leave to rest for a few minutes.
  3. Cut each log into one inch segments, dusting with more flour if it is too sticky. When all the dough has been used up, use a fork dusted in flour to press lines into the gnocchi.
  4. To cook, add the gnocchi into a large pot of salted, boiling water. Don't overcrowd the pan, or the gnocchi may stick together. Drain and serve. I put the drained gnocchi into a large non stick pan just to give them some crunch - completely optional, but it gives it an added texture.
For the Ragu
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 brown onion, diced finely
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 6 lamb sausages (or sausages of your choice, I used lamb, chilli and rosemary)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced (alternatively, 1 tin of diced tomatoes, and omit the tomato paste)
  • 250g tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup red wine

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and add the garlic and onions, stirfrying until fragrant. Cut one end off from a sausage, and squeeze out the filling into the frying pan. Keep stirring. The sausage meat can be in chunks or broken up into tiny bits like mince, whichever you prefer. Repeat with remaining sausages.
  2. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, rosemary, and bay leaves, stirring to combine. Deglaze with the wine, and let simmer for about 15 minutes on a very low heat.
  3. Serve with gnocchi, top with parmesan cheese and cracked pepper.

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