As some of you may know, I’m married to a Frenchman but whether he’s a true Frenchman can be a bit of a debate. He’s Corsican. Although the island of Corsica officially belongs to France, their cuisine is more Italian in spirit. More on that subject later… In our house, we tend to eat a lot of pasta. The children LOVE to get covered in flour making homemade tagliatelle: I prefer that the flour coats the pasta. 😉
This has to be another of my favourite Italian-style dishes. We all know gnocchi as the round little potato dumplings but this version is baked in the oven, Roman-style. I found this recipe for Baked Butternut Squash Gnocchi by Jean-Christophe Novelli in a magazine ages ago and since then I’ve been playing around with it, as it’s so versatile: in place of the butternut squash I’ve used pumpkin, parsnips and here I’ve used sweet potato. They all work wonderfully.
In summer I’ve even tried this with roasted red peppers (skins removed.) It completely transforms this dish. Serve it as bright red gnocchi with fish for a real treat. Don’t forget you can also chop and change the herbs – with lemon thyme, basil and rosemary, depending on your accompaniment.
Serve this as a starter or a main course, top with some good melting cheese and finish off under the grill. Serve with a rocket salad tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and toasted pine nuts. You could use polenta instead of the semolina but I personally find the semolina is lighter. Use wholemeal semolina, if you’re wanting to be particularly healthy. I love serving this as a side dish (without the cheese topping) to accompany saltimbocca or roast chicken.
Serves 4 people as a main dish or 8 as a side dish or starter.
Adapted from a recipe by Jean-Christophe Novelli
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes + 40 minutes
2 sweet potatoes (about 550g), peeled & chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
4 sage leaves, finely chopped
50g Parmesan cheese, grated (or grana padano)
65g butter, softened
3 large organic eggs
125ml carton crème fraîche
Fontina, gorgonzola or taleggio (good melting cheeses)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Throw the sweet potato, garlic and sage in a roasting tin. Cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes. There’s no need to use oil if you cover with the foil.
- Whiz the potato, garlic and sage in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and add all the other ingredients. Season to taste.
- Spread the mixture in a brownie tin lined with baking paper, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes (I use the roasting option on the oven).
- Cool in the tin then cut into squares, triangles or circles (circles are pretty but I prefer the squares as there’s no waste.)
- If serving as a main vegetarian dish or a starter, put the slices on a baking tray. Cover with the cheese of your choice and grill until melted.
- We ate this at home thinking of Manuela’s event for the 150 years of the Unification of Italy at Manu’s Menu on 17 March but I didn’t get around to writing it up on the site. Sorry, Manu! Mieux vaut tard que jamais, as they say here (better late than never) 😉