Spring is my favorite time of year to visit the farmer’s market.

There is so much excitement at this time of year when the farmer’s market is finally back in full swing after a slower winter season. I love the bright and fresh produce that fills the stands and feel incredibly inspired to eat lighter and fresher meals.

This meal is something special. I made it for the first time on a Saturday evening a few weeks ago after a morning at the farmers market where I picked up the most beautiful asparagus. The asparagus was clearly fresh with subtly purple tips and tender stalks.

I knew is was going to be really good when a local chef grabbed some to taste raw and spoke highly of it. I knew that the asparagus needed to be showcased in a special yet simple dish.

As North Carolina is known for sweet potatoes I’m sure to grab some from the farmers any time they have them. So home I went with a huge bag of produce including 8 sweet potatoes and 2 bunches of asparagus! To me, gnocchi just feel special and this version comes together quickly and easily. No need to rice the potatoes, simply roast them in the oven then mix them with spelt flour, egg, and salt, and you have pasta dough.

The simplicity of the sweet potato gnocchi, the highly sautéed fresh asparagus, and sauce of butter, garlic, and onion is elevated by really good fresh ingredients. I think this dish would be perfect for a holiday meal, maybe Easter, a date night, or dinner to impress your family and friends. The gnocchi can be made in advance and stored in the freezer until ready to use.

Sometimes simple really is best.

Spelt & Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fresh Asparagus
Author: 
Recipe type: Entrée
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 entrees or 4 sides
 
Surprisingly easy gnocchi tossed with fresh asparagus, garlic, onions, and butter to make for a light yet indulgent meal featuring local seasonal produce.
Ingredients
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 small to medium egg, at room temperature
  • 1.5 c spelt flour
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ c fresh chopped herbs such as basil or parsley or a mixture
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and roast the sweet potatoes until fork tender, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing the skins and adding them to a large bowl.*
  2. Mash the sweet potatoes well then gently fold in the egg and the salt, mixing well. Add the spelt flour about ½ cup at a time, mixing it into the sweet potato with a large spoon or spatula. By the time the last ½ cup is added you will likely need to begin hand kneading the dough to fully incorporated the flour.
  3. Place the pasta dough on a well floured cutting board, and form a rectangle about 1.5" thick. Cut the rectangle into fairly equal slices, about 1" wide. On a well floured surface roll out each slice of the dough into a log about ¼" in height. Cut each log into ½" pieces then roll each piece with a wooden gnocchi roller or a fork to create ridges on the dough (this helps the sauce adhere).
  4. Place each completed gnocchi on a parchment lined or well floured baking sheet. When they are all completed put the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 20 minutes to allow the gnocchi to freeze.**
  5. When you are about 20 minutes away from being ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil. At the same time heat a large skillet to medium heat and add the butter and onions, cooking until the onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, asparagus, and 1 t salt and ½ t pepper plus more to taste. Stir regularly.
  6. When the water is boiling, gently place in the gnocchi. When they float to the top they are finished, this will take about 3-6 minutes depending on how large your gnocchi are. Gently scoop out the gnocchi or carefully pour them into a colander. Then immediately add them to your skillet with the asparagus.
  7. Turn the heat in the skillet up to medium high and cook the gnocchi until they are lightly toasted and well covered with the butter, about 5 minutes. Drizzle with the olive oil and most of the fresh herbs, reserving some to garnish and cook one minute more. Serve immediately with the remaining herbs and freshly cracked pepper.
Notes
*This can be done in advance and the sweet potatoes can be stored in the fridge until ready to use.
**To make the gnocchi in advance, leave them in the freezer for 1-2 hours then remove them from the baking sheet and store them in an airtight bag or container until ready to use. You will cook them directly from frozen. It is important to freeze them on the baking sheet first to avoid them sticking together.

I was able to make this from start to finish in about 45 minutes. If you do not have experiencing making gnocchi this recipe might take a bit longer but is a lot of fun.

Note that this recipe doesn't reheat particularly well. It is meant to be enjoyed fresh.

I would love to know what you think! Please post a comment or tag @the_mexitalian on Instagram or @the__mexitalian on Twitter.

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