Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Red Pesto

Sweet potato gnocchi with red pesto

Un bon livre, Marcus, est un livre que l’on regret d’avoir terminé / A good book, Marcus, is a book you are sorry to have finished.

– Joel Dicker in La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert

I love reading and in a novel I read recently, The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani, one of the characters, an Italian immigrant to New York, makes gnocchi. This potato and flour dish is loaded with nostalgia for her, bringing her back to her childhood village in the Italian Alps. It made me want to give her a hug…and also to taste the gnocchi she was making.

So I decided I needed to create a healthier version of gnocchi. Traditionally, gnocchi is made with white potatoes, white flour and eggs, then rolled into a dough and boiled in water for about a minute.

Instead of using normal potatoes, I wanted to use sweet potatoes as they are significantly higher in vitamin C and beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is key for eye health and the immune system and just 1 medium-sized sweet potato covers more than 200% of your daily needs in vitamin A and 50% of your daily needs of vitamin C. (source). In order to improve the absorption of beta-carotene in the body (found mostly in orange fruits and vegetables like carrots and pumpkins/squash, melon) it is best to combine these foods with a source of fat. In this recipe, the pine nuts and olive oil from the pesto add healthy fats to the dish.

Start by cooking 2 medium sweet potatoes

Wash the sweet potatoes, then roast them in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 45 minutes or until you can poke them with a fork. Take out and leave to cool. You can make these up to 2 days in advance and simply wrap them in the baking sheet and put in the fridge. It is essential that the sweet potatoes be cold for this recipe.

Roasted sweet potatoes

Red Pesto (inspired by this recipe)

1 red bell pepper (red peppers are the ripest peppers – making them easier to digest + more nutrient dense than green or yellow peppers)

2 ripe tomatoes

3/4 cup pine nuts

12 dried tomatoes (buy them without oil)

2 garlic cloves

olive oil amount depends on desired consistency

salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

Cut the red bell pepper and remove the seeds. Place it on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth. Add the bell pepper and more olive oil or a little water if you prefer a more liquid consistency.

Set aside while you prepare the gnocchi. You can use any leftovers as a spread on bread, crackers or vegetables.


Sweet Potato Gnocchi (serves 4)

medium sweet potatoes, cooked and cooled (see above)

1 egg

About 200g of buckwheat flour, chestnut flour or other flour

A dash of salt, pepper and ground nutmeg

Peel and mash the sweet potatoes in a bowl, then add the egg, salt, pepper and ground nutmeg.

Sweet potato + egg mix

Add the flour and mix with your hands until a dough that isn’t too sticky is formed. You may need to add a little more flour.

Roll out your dough into a snake-like shape and cut it into small pieces with a knife. Do this for all your dough mix.

Cutting dough

gnocchi dough

Bring a pan of water to a boil and drop in a handful of gnocchi. Leave them for about 1 minute, until they float to the surface, then take them out with a slotted spoon and place them in a dish. Do not overcook the gnocchi or they become hard! Keep doing this until you have finished your gnocchi reserve.

Gnocchi boiling water

Once your gnocchi is cooked, combine it with the red pesto and serve on a bed of greens. I find that the sweet potatoes and buckwheat have quite an earthy, grounding energy and adding some greens like arugula adds a more uplifting, light energy to the meal. You can read more about the energetics of food here.

Sweet potato gnocchi with red pesto2

Creamy Avocado Pesto (raw & vegan)

Avocado pesto

This is my go to pesto recipe – using avocado makes for a creamy, very satisfying pesto that goes well with zucchini pasta (read more about how to make them here) but could also be combined with a baked sweet potato, regular pasta or even as a topping to steamed vegetables.

This recipe is extremely versatile as you can use any green vegetables or herbs you have on hand or feel like using. It’s a great way to sneak them in without anyone really noticing!


1 large avocado

2 handfuls of green leafy vegetables or herbs – either spinach, kale, arugula or basil

4 tbsp raw pine nuts or cashew nuts + a little more as toppings

1 clove garlic

juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt + pepper to taste

a dash of cayenne pepper or paprika flakes (optional)

Cherry tomatoes as topping


Place all the ingredients in a food processor or powerful blender. Blend until smooth then serve on top of zucchini noodles topped with chopped cherry tomatoes and a few pine nuts or cashew nuts.

Keeps in the fridge so you can always make more and eat it over several days.