Parsnip Gnocchi with Basil Oil

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You know one of the things I miss, since I stopped eating pasta and potatoes? Gnocchi. I used to either fry it in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and then eat it at the kitchen worktop, dipping it in brown sauce - I'm a classy girl - or I'd boil it and then toss it in tomato sauce, layering it up with mascarpone cheese and spinach, into a pasta bake. I don't necessarily miss the tomato sauce or the cheese (cheese is still a no-go for me) but I do miss the chewy, pillowy texture of gnocchi. 

Parsnip Gnocchi with Basil Oil

And then I saw a recipe on Paleo Pumpkin which took white sweet potatoes and turned them into fluffy little balls of gnocchi. What a great idea. Except white sweet potatoes always seem to irritate my stomach. A few weeks later, I dug out an old pasta cookbook to give away to a friend and as I flicked through the glossy photos one last time, I saw that conventional gnocchi can be made out of pumpkin or butternut squash. So there must be a lot of other veggies, aside from potato or white sweet potato, that you can make gnocchi out of. 

One of my favourite potato substitutes is parsnips. I love them roasted in garlic, cut into skinny fries and eaten with mayonnaise. They're lovely mashed or cut up and cooked and sprinkled with dill. And I thought they'd make lovely gnocchi. Starchy, sweet and earthy. 

Parsnip Gnocchi with Basil Oil

They were soft, doughy, a little bit chewy - after years of not eating gnocchi they hit the spot. 

Perfect with some basil oil poured over the top. 

Parsnip Gnocchi with Basil Oil
Serves 3-4
For the gnocchi:
500g parsnips
5 heaped teaspoons cassava flour (be prepared to add a little extra if needed)
quarter teaspoon garlic salt
water, for boiling

For the Basil Oil:
25g fresh basil leaves
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch of nutritional yeast
pinch of garlic salt

First, peel the parsnips and trim off the ends. Chop them into similarly-sized chunks and place them in cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the parsnips are fork tender. 

While the parsnips are cooking, make the basil oil. Blend the basil leaves, olive oil, nutritional yeast and garlic salt until combined but a bit chunky - I like to see some leaves in there - and put to one side. 

Drain well, and return them to the hot pan. 

Leave the parsnips over a low heat for 30 seconds or so, tossing them, to evaporate any excess moisture. Turn off the heat and add the garlic salt. Add the cassava flour - one heaped teaspoonful at a time - and stir it into the parsnips. Keep going until you end up with a soft but firm dough that's kneadable. 

Depending on how your parsnips behave and how softened they are, just stirring might be enough to break them down into a dough. If not, you'll need to mash them - I use an electric masher attachment on my Kenwood stick blender for this, or just mash them up with a hand held, traditional masher. 

Dust a wooden board with a pinch of cassava flour and form the dough into two long sausage shapes, rolling with your hands. With a sharp knife, cut little gnocchi off the sausage shape and put to one side. Roll the gnocchi with the prongs of a fork. 

Rinse out the pan you boiled the parsnips in and half-fill with boiling water from the kettle. Add a small pinch of salt. Boil the gnocchi for about 1-2 minutes, until they've fluffed up and are floating on the top of the water. Drain gently and serve hot, with the basil oil drizzled over the top. 

Note: The gnocchi dough doesn't do well kept raw in the fridge - it turns very wet and mushy. If you're making this, make the amount that you'll eat straight away. If you need to, you can halve the recipe to make less. 

Parsnip Gnocchi with Basil Oil

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I've entered this recipe into Phoenix Helix's AIP Recipe Roundtable - go check it out for more inspiration!