Sweet Potato Gnocchi and Walnut Spinach Pesto

Made this while on quarantine and got some requests for the recipe, so here it is.


  • A bit over a lbs of sweet potatoes (about 500g)
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Rosemary
  • 2 cups of flour (250g)
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop up into medium sized cubes.
  2. Spread out on a cooking tray and drizzle olive oil on top, sprinkle some salt
    Optional: Add some pepper, and rosemary to give the sweet potato some additional flavour
  3. Roast at 180C until tender (about 40 minutes)
  4. Set the sweet potato aside to let it cool (10-15 minutes). Mash up the sweet potatoes while they are still warm. You will then let the sweet potatoes completely cool.
    Optional: You can do this the day before and leave the mashed sweet potatoes in the fridge
  5. Get a medium or large mixing bowl and whisk together the egg with the nutmeg and salt. Then whisk in the mashed sweet potato.
  6. Once the wet ingredients are well combined set aside the whisk and grab a solid spatula or wooden spoon and start adding the flour to the wet ingredients 1 cup at a time and mix the ingredients
  7. Once you have gotten the dough mostly incorporate drizzle a bit of olive oil and finish kneading together the dough.
  8. Let the dough rest 5-10 minutes
  9. While the dough is resting get a medium sized pot and fill about halfway to ¾ with water with a generous amount of salt and put on high to get it up to a rolling boil
  10. Make 6 to 8 balls out of the dough. Don’t worry if they aren’t exactly the same size
  11. Put a little flour on your workspace and hands and roll each ball into a long snake-like cylinder. You will want the cylinders to be about 1 cm in diameter, but if they are a bit bigger or smaller it’ll be fine.
  12. Once you’ve rolled all your dough into “snakes” using a sharp knife cut the snake into 2cm long pieces.
    Optional: With a fork brand your gnocchi. This is more aesthetic, but in theory will give your gnocchi more surface to absorb whatever sauce you use.
  13. In batches you will cook up the gnocchi. You will drop each one in individually, try spacing them to avoid them sticking to each other. Once the gnocchi start to float to the top it is done. With a slotted spoon remove the gnocchi from the water and set aside on a plate. Repeat process until all of the gnocchi are cooked

Optional: You can toss the gnocchi with some olive oil, fresh cracked pepper, and sea salt.
Once you have finished boiling the gnocchi you will finish them in whatever sauce you want to finish them with. Cooking them in the sauce will give better flavour as the gnocchi will absorbs some of the flavour of your sauce.

Walnut Spinach Pesto

This is a very easy recipe and works well when you don’t have fresh herbs on hand. I use dried basil and thyme and some fresh baby spinach to give the pesto the traditional green colour you expect in a pesto. If you have fresh herbs you can use a cup of basil, and half a cup of thyme and drop the spinach.


  • ¾ Cup of Chopped Walnuts
  • ⅓ Cup Olive Oil
  • ½ Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • zest from lime
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • ½ a medium brown onion
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1½ cups of hand shredded baby spinach


  1. Zest the lime before cutting it. If you have half a lime lying around you can zest it, but it is a lot easier doing it before the lime is cut
  2. Coarsely chop up the onion and garlic (and walnuts if you have whole or half walnuts)
  3. Toss all the ingredients into a processor or blender, and blend until you get a nice green paste
  4. You can store the pesto in the fridge or even freeze it if you don’t want to use it all


  • To cook the pesto, heat up a skillet, add some olive oil and then sweat the other half of the brown onion
  • Then add a clove of minced garlic, and about a ¼ of a red capsicum
  • Add in 4 sliced mushrooms and cook until they start to get a bit tender
  • Add pesto to the skillet and start to mix everything together. Add a bit of white wine and let everything simmer
  • Adding in pasta of choice (gnocchi in this case) add a bit more white wine and olive oil
  • Stirring let everything simmer and the pasta to absorb the flavour of the sauce

Plate everything with some grilled tomatoes and onions, some fresh grated pecorino and a couple Aperol Spritz. Bon Appetit!!

Loss of a literaty icon

(SUD FOTO SERGIO SIANO)I was sadden to find out that my favorite author Umberto Eco passed away recently. Several of his books are among my favorites including Baudolino, Foucault’s Pendulum, The Name of the Rose, and How to travel with a salmon and other essays.

His books were often dense with symbolism, and could read almost like a game, where he dared you to peal back all of the layers. But throughout there was a sense of self-effacement, and joy with the games you can play with words that avoided ever feeling pretentious.

The economist wrote a nice joint obituary for Umberto Eco and Harper Lee who also recently passed away.

Presenting in Bogota Colombia


Last week I presented work I’ve been involved with at IFPRI with the IMPACT model. I explained how the model works and how this tool can be used in conjunction with other tools developed at IFPRI can be applied to the Colombian context to analyze complex issues like the effects of climate change on agricultural prices, land-use, and GHG emmissions.

Take a look at the blogpost I posted about the event at the Global Futures website: http://globalfutures.cgiar.org/2014/12/03/leds-modelling-workshop-adapting-ifpri-tools-and-methodologies-to-the-colombian-policy-context/


Presenting in Buenos Aires

Just posted a blog on the Global Futures website about my trip to Buenos Aires, where I presented work done at IFPRI looking at the potential role of new agricultural technologies in sustainable intensification and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Agricultural Projections at the Cereals Exchange in Buenos Aires – INAI conference Argentina

Migration is Development

Migration is Development

Very interesting article by Peter Sutherland at Project Syndicate illustrating the importance of considering migration in the overall context of economic development. I think that too often we think of economic development interventions with the idea that the people we are trying to help are fixed in location. I think Sutherland makes the important point that we shouldn’t do this. Migration be it international, or national (read urbanization) is neither a good or bad thing in and of itself. But it is a reality. People are often able and willing to move in search of better economic, political, and social opportunities. When we ignore this reality we limit our ability to create effective and sustainable interventions.

Venezuela: Panel Will Investigate Roots of Cancer That Killed Chávez

Venezuela: Panel Will Investigate Roots of Cancer That Killed Chávez

Completely absurd. If the U.S. had the capacity to take out people by inducing cancer in them since the 50s, I am pretty sure that there would be evidence of this spectacular assassination technique. I mean how many problematic leaders would have been targeted before Chavez (Fidel Castro, Manuel Noriega, Sudan Hussein, Ali Khamenei, or Muammar Gaddafi)?

It would be nice if Maduro would move past this ridiculous anti-imperialism, and start to move towards treating Venezuela’s real economic, social, and political problems. I hope that this is indeed what happens, but I am a lot more skeptical this is the direction things will be going under Maduro.