Wild garlic pesto seems to be to 2021 what banana bread was to 2020 – everyone’s making it. When I stumbled upon a field of wild garlic on a recent run (thanks for the tip, Michelle!) I knew the time had come for me to climb aboard the bandwagon.
Having made my wild garlic pesto, it struck me as the perfect accompaniment for something I’d been meaning to try to make for awhile – sweet potato gnocchi. Now, this one isn’t the easiest dish to make as it involves quite a bit of manual labour, but it’s a fun couples’ bonding (not -age) exercise. Unfortunately the gnocchi are not vegan as they contain goat’s cheese. While making them, I had the idea to roast the skins, which would usually be discarded, and was delighted with the result. Zero waste! Served up with some garlic roasted tomatoes and topped with wild garlic pesto and a scattering of pine nuts, these make for a wonderful stay home date night vegetarian meal.
Serves 2 hungry lads
Wild Garlic Pesto
50g wild garlic leaves
10g mint leaves
20g roasted pine nuts
2 tbsp grated parmesan
65ml extra virgin olive oil
salt, to taste
Not much method involved here – thoroughly wash your wild garlic & mint and remove any yucky bits, toast your pine nuts, grate your parmesan, then blend all together. Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge.
If you want to make it vegan, omit the parmesan and replace with some nutritional yeast (to taste, not sure if 2 tbsp would be excessive).
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
For the gnocchi themselves
350g sweet potato (ca. one large)
1/4 cup soft ‘spreadable’ goats cheese (such as this – ricotta would work too)
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1.1 cups flour (we used plain white, wholemeal and gluten free would prob be fine too)
1/2 tsp salt
For the roasted tomatoes
400g tomatoes (any kind, halved if cherry, cut smaller if normal)
2 peeled garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
1- Preheat the oven on fan 180ºc.
2- Wash and slice tomatoes, peel garlic, and place in an oiled baking dish. Top with salt, a spray / drizzle of balsamic, and place in the oven, setting a timer for 40 minutes.
3- Thoroughly wash your sweet potato(es) and stab it all over with a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate and into the microwave on medium-high heat for ca. 8 minutes (depending on size), turning frequently.
You can also roast the whole fork-stabbed sweet potato for 45 minutes if you sadly don’t have a microwave. Know that I feel very sad for you bc I love the microwave.
4- While your sweet potato is in the microwave, measure out your other gnocchi ingredients and prepare a bowl.
5- Once the sweet potato is cooked, remove from microwave, halve and scoop out flesh. Allow flesh to cool for a couple of minutes while you undertake the next step – on which topic, do not discard the skins!
6- Slice sweet potato skins into ribbons, season, and place in an oiled baking dish in the oven alongside the tomatoes. Set a timer for 20 minutes (finish time for these and the tomatoes and the gnocchi should roughly overlap).
7- Gnocchi processing time! Mix together all the ingredients except the flour and the sweet potato flesh in a large bowl. Add the flour by the 1/4 cup and knead together as if it’s a loaf of bread. You may need to use your discretion as to when you’ve reached optimal flour level, and possibly may want to add more or less.
8- Once it reaches the right doughy consistency, transfer the future gnocchi onto a clean and floured surface. Form it into something resembling a loaf (as below).
9- Maybe don’t go by my shaping recommendations and follow a YouTube tutorial instead, as the form of our gnocchi was probably an insult to Italy. But if you don’t think it was too horrendous, we cut off slices of the dough and rolled them into thinner rope-like segments, which we then cut into 1-inch gnocco (I think that’s the singular for gnocchi).
10- Arrange your gnocchi on a plate and boil a large pot of salted water.
11- Once the water is boiling, drop the gnocchi in. They are ready when they begin to float to the top.
12- While the gnocchi boil, remove the tomatoes from the oven, mash the roasted garlic with a fork, and mix well together. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked gnocchi to the roasting tin or a frying pan with the tomatoes and mix together.
Top with the sweet potato skin ribbons and a good tbsp of wild garlic pesto, perhaps also some pine nuts if you have them to hand. Bone apple teeth!
Serving Suggestions / Swaps / Tips
Both the pesto and the gnocchi are super versatile ingredients. The pesto goes great with plain old pasta, or used as a salad dressing (as below – my hiking meal from yesterday). The gnocchi would be topped with any sauce really – the goat’s cheese flavour isn’t very strong / distracting.
Leftover rating – 3/3. The gnocchi will keep in the fridge shaped or otherwise for a good few days – but don’t cook it until you want to eat it.
There was a bit of a lag time between making the pesto and using it with the gnocchi – I wasn’t being lazy, I was conducting an experiment on how well it keeps… I’m glad to report that it tastes just as good a week after making it, but be sure to seal it well and top it with an extra layer of oil to retain freshness.