Among things I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole just over a year ago: sweet potatoes and spinach. Things in this dish: sweet potatoes and spinach. (And flour, but that doesn’t count.) I am astounded daily by how much my tastes have changed, just by actually trying things—and not just trying to shovel raw spinach into my face, but actually cooking with fresh, real food, experimenting, and realizing that not every vegetable tastes like Brussels sprouts. Still hate those, for the record.
My weekly produce delivery last week contained several sweet potatoes. Convinced I hated them, I didn’t know how I would use them.
Last Friday, I went out to lunch with a bunch of co-workers and I ended up getting sweet potato fries with my meal on a whim. I thought, what the hey, they’re healthier than regular fries and if I hate them, I just won’t eat them. Of course, I loved them.
The next night, I made my own baked sweet potato fries with dinner. Delicious! And then I made this the next night. I’m on a veritable sweet potato binge and I’m loving every minute of it!
Gnocchi is, traditionally, a pasta made with potatoes. Not a whole lot else to it, except flour. I was browsing the “How to Cook Everything” app and came across a recipe for gnocchi. There were variations suggested: a version with spinach and a version using sweet potatoes instead of regular Russets. In a moment of uncharacteristic veggie love, I decided to combine them. A stroke of genius, I tell you.
This is so easy to make. It’s literally sweet potatoes, spinach, and flour. You can even use frozen spinach to skip the wilting step. The sweet potatoes can be roasted, but I microwaved them; it takes 10 minutes and couldn’t be simpler. I always thought making gnocchi would be a complex, difficult process, but it’s so not. Let’s do this!
I told you: it’s seriously just spinach, sweet potatoes, and flour. You need about a pound’s worth of sweet potatoes, and up to 10 ounces of spinach (I only had about 7). If you’re using frozen spinach, use 5 ounces. I used white whole wheat flour but you can also use regular whole wheat or all-purpose (but, as always, it will strip out some of the nutritional value).
First, you have to cook your sweet potatoes. You can do this easily in the microwave. Puncture the potatoes all over with a fork, then place a paper towel under them in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for about 10 minutes, flipping them halfway through. When done, the potatoes should be very fork tender.
If you’re using fresh spinach, you’ll need to wilt it. Do this in the microwave or on the stove (place the spinach in a skillet with about a half inch of water. Cover and steam until wilted).
When it’s wilted, drain it and dry it thoroughly. To do this, I bunched it up inside a few paper towels and just squeezed until there wasn’t one drop of water left. It takes some doing!
Now chop it up finely.
By now, your potatoes should be done. Peel the skins off; they should come off easily when started with a knife. Mash ‘em good!
Now add your chopped spinach to the mashed sweet potatoes and mix.
Now it’s time to start making the pasta.
Start adding the flour about 1/8 cup at a time until it becomes a dough you can work with your hands.
You’ll be adding about 1 cup total. About halfway through the mixing process, it’s easiest to get in there with your hands, but coat them with a dusting of flour first.
Now you’re ready to start kneading.
Knead for just a couple minutes on a lightly floured surface. The goal is to use as little additional flour as possible.
Snatch a little piece of dough and throw it in some boiling water. If it holds its shape, it’s ready. If it falls apart, add more flour. Now it’s time to start forming the gnocchi.
Rip off a chunk of dough, then form it into a chubby snake about a half inch thick.
Now cut into 1″ sections. At this point, you could also roll them against the tines of a fork to give the gnocchi their characteristic ridges, but honestly, I wasn’t too concerned with that. I just wanted them in my mouth. And besides, I kinda like the little pillow shapes these made.
After forming each one, place them on a piece of wax paper or sheet tray, lightly floured. Don’t let them touch or they’ll stick!
This made about 60 gnocchi for me, so that’s 15 gnocchi per serving. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but these babies are filling!
Cook these in small batches in salted, boiling water. About a minute after they rise to the surface of the water, they’re done.
This next step is totally optional; you could eat directly after the boiling step. However, this is a nice finishing touch—saute minced garlic in about a tablespoon of butter in a skillet. Then throw in your gnocchi and brown on each side. It gives them a light crust on the outside, as well as a buttery, garlicky flavor that just puts it over the top.
Serve with fresh Parmesan and marinara sauce.
So good, you guys. Seriously. Slightly sweet, slightly buttery, so chewy and tender, and so tasty.
Best of all, this is infinitely healthier than regular gnocchi. Regular gnocchi is just potatoes and flour—no nutritional value. But, with whole wheat flour, sweet potatoes, and spinach—I mean, really, how much healthier can it get? Low-calorie and chock full of good stuff. And, to reiterate, so good.
Sweet Potato Spinach Gnocchi
Adapted from the How to Cook Everything App
- 1 pound sweet potatoes
- 6 to 10 oz. fresh spinach (use 5 oz. if frozen)
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour, plus more for kneading
Wash sweet potatoes, then puncture all over with a fork. Place a paper towel under the potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until fork tender. Remove skins and discard. Mash sweet potatoes until smooth.
Steam fresh spinach until wilted. Drain and dry thoroughly. If using frozen spinach, thaw and drain. Chop finely. Start boiling water to cook pasta.
Combine potatoes and spinach in a mixing bowl. Begin adding flour in batches and mix until all flour is added and mixture has formed a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and need for 1 to 2 minutes. Pinch off a small piece of dough and drop in boiling water. If it falls apart, add more flour. If it holds its shape, it’s ready.
Break off a chunk of dough and roll it into a log about 1/2″ thick. Cut into 1″ pieces and place on a sheet tray or piece of wax paper, lightly floured.
Working in small batches, place gnocchi in boiling, salted water to cook. About a minute after they float to the surface, they’re done.
Optional: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute 1 clove of minced garlic for 30 seconds, then add cooked gnocchi. Brown on each side.
Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and marinara sauce.
*Includes final saute step