Purple sweet potato gnocchi with lebanese cauliflower

This dish is a fusion of imitation of a Middle Eastern classic, and pure intuitive invention. Purple sweet potato has a fragrant, almost floral, flavour along with its sweetness that demands accompaniment by something bitter to create a delicious harmonic balance of flavour. Tahini-dressed cauliflower is exactly what this riff off gnocchi needs to sing.

I came up with the idea for this when struggling to think of a dish to make with purple sweet potatoes, and decided to capitalise on the theatrical appearance of a purple potato rather than play it safe…. Here’s what I came up with…

Flavour: Sweet, savoury & slightly bitter

Serves: 2 as a main meal

Purple sweet potato gnocchi:


  • 1 large purple sweet potato, or two medium-sized ones (you could use orange sweet potatoes as the flavour also works for this dish, but the orange sweet potato dough works out to a different consistency from the purple stuff, so best follow a recipe specific to the variety you’re using)
  • half teaspoon salt
  • 4-6 tablespoons flour (quantity may vary, so add flour gradually while working toward perfect consistency)


  1. Peel and chop purple sweet potato into 1-inch chunks
  2. Boil purple sweet potato until tender and easily mashed
  3. Strain purple sweet potato, and mash with a fork – stir in salt, and leave to cool
  4. Once mashed purple sweet potato is cool you can mix in the flour with a spatula, adding the flour one tablespoon at a time
  5. Once the purple potato mixture becomes doughy, knead it with your hands, incorporating the flour, until you have a pliable purple dough the consistency of slightly chalky play-doh
  6. Break your dough into 3-4 pieces, and roll each piece into a thick, long sausage shape on a surface lightly dusted with flour
    • Amateur tip: I actually like to make a cuboid by flattening my dough on 4 sides as I roll it – I then cut it into squares, and these look really pretty on the plate when the dish is assembled
  7. Cut your dough sausages/cuboids into evenly-sized pieces – they can be round, square, or traditional dumpling-shaped gnocchis – entirely up to your creativity!
  8. Gently roll the gnocchis in flour to ensure each one is non-sticky – set aside
  9. When you’re ready to cook (and fresher is better), boil up a large pan of slightly salted water, and boil the gnocchi in batches (2-3 batches should do it) – you’ll know it’s done when they all float to the surface and start bobbing about
  10. Remove the gnocchi from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, and drain it on a plate before plating up your dish

Optional extra step: Fry off your gnocchi in (non-dairy) butter in small batches (2-3 batches should do it) before serving – this adds a slight golden nuttiness and creamy flavour and texture to the whole dish.

Lebanese cauliflower:


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • half teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • half large head of cauliflower (or a whole one if it’s small)
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • quarter cup chopped parsley
  • drizzle of olive oil (just for finishing)
  • Generous sprinkle freshly ground black pepper

Optional extras:

  • You can make this dish with broccoli instead, or with a mixture of broccoli and cauliflower. If you opt for broccoli, it’s advisable to steam it instead of roasting.


  1. Preheat oven to 150c
  2. Break cauliflower into florets and toss in olive oil and salt on a baking tray, with the clove of garlic, unpeeled and intact (I prefer to do this with my hands to make sure all of the cauliflower gets properly coated)
  3. Roast for 30 minutes – the cauliflower should be golden when it’s done
  4. Take out the roasted garlic, peel it, and mash it in a large mixing bowl with a fork
  5. Mix the tahini, lemon juice, ground pepper and a sprinkle of salt with the mashed garlic (add water one tablespoon at a time if the mixture is too thick – you want it thin enough to pour slowly, not runny)
  6. Toss the roasted cauliflower in the tahini and lemon dressing
  7. Stir in the chopped parsley
Putting it all together:
  1. Arrange a layer of gnocchi on each plate, using about a third of the gnocchi
    • Amateur tip: I like to plate up in a crescent-moon shape, leaving a space on the plate for an additional element that complements the dish – in this dish I’d recommend the following as optional extras:
      • Balsamic roast vegetables – eggplant, tomato, zucchini, capsicum, and onion all work well
      • Adding crunch with a deconstructed falafel crumb pairs perfectly with a zingy tzatziki to round out this dish
  2. Place spoonfuls of the cauliflower mixture among some of the gnocchis, using about a third of the cauliflower
  3. Add a second and third layer of gnocchi and then cauliflower mixture, resulting in a layered dish with cauliflower dispersed throughout the gnocchi rather than just dumped on top of it
  4. Serve to your very special guests and let them snap a selfie with it before they get stuck in 😛

One thought on “Purple sweet potato gnocchi with lebanese cauliflower

  1. Holy Moly! I recently entered ‘find purple sweet potato’ in my diary. Now I know what to do with it when I find it!! Thanks


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