Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage and Brown Butter

Gnocchi is one of those types of pastas that most seem to either like or dislike. There’s no ambiguity about them. I happen to like these soft Italian dumplings. I think of them as velvety mini-potato pillows. There’s many ways to prepare them… with eggs or ricotta, adding fresh herbs or omitting them, in milk with a touch of cheese, in butter, in a savory Gorgonzola sauce or even a saute of vegetables.

adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2005

Makes 10 servings

  • 2 lbs of red-skinned sweet potatoes, rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork
  • 1 (12 oz) container fresh skim milk ricotta cheese, drained well so that it is very dry
  • 1 C finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 tsps plus 2 T salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • 6 T chopped fresh sage plus whole leaves for garnish
  • 1 large shallot, chopped (optional)
  • 4 T chopped toasted hazelnuts (optional)
  • 4 T freshly grated Parmesan (optional)

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sweet potatoes on plate; microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Make sure that the sweet potato is completely cool to the touch. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 3 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 6 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Please note that you should try to not overwork the dough and try to handle the dough as little as possible. Cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent. Transfer to baking sheet. Allow the gnocchi to dry for at least

Bring large pot of water to boil; add 2 tablespoons salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Cool completely. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Preheat oven to 300°F. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until butter solids are brown and have toasty aroma, swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes. Halfway through browning the butter, add the shallots.

Add chopped sage (mixture will bubble up). Turn off heat once the sage is crisp, do not let it burn. Season sage butter generously with salt and pepper.

Transfer half of sage butter to large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add half of gnocchi. Sauté until gnocchi are heated through, about 6 minutes. Empty skillet onto rimmed baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining sage butter and gnocchi.

Divide gnocchi and sauce among shallow bowls. Garnish with sage leaves, Parmesan and hazelnuts if desired.

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