The first time I tried gnocchi was when I purchased a bag of ready made packaged gnocchi. Just like dried pasta, all you had to boil was the gnocchi and toss them in a sauce. I was not a fan. The texture was a little chewy and doughy at the same time, if that makes any sense. For the longest time, I refused to try gnocchi elsewhere because of that experience. Boy, was I a fool. Fast forward years later, I tried my own hand at preparing gnocchi; what an eye-opening revelation the experience was! The pasta was light, soft, almost like a marshmallow, the opposite of the store bought version. Today, I decided to take on a different type of gnocchi, the sweet gnocchi kind. With fall in full effect, this pasta is the perfect dish to warm you up. Sweet potato gnocchi tossed in a browned butter sage sauce, arugula, pine nuts and finished with shaved parmesan, just delightful!
- 1 lb sweet potato
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 - 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 sage leaves, fresh
- 2 cups arugula
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- shaved parmesan
- Make the dough for the gnocchi. Steam sweet potato for 20 minutes or until fork-tender. Alternatively, place sweet potato in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 5-8 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove sweet potato and peel. Mash until smooth and let cool.
- Add ricotta and mix until combined. Add egg, salt and 2 cups flour. The dough will be sticky but not loose. Add flour 1 tbsp at a time if it is still very moist, mixing until well combined.
- Generously dust counter with flour and scrape dough onto counter. Shape dough into 4 sections. Start with the first piece and roll it into a 3/4 inch thick rope. Use a knife and cut the log into 3/4 inch wide bite-size pieces. Transfer cut gnocchi onto a baking sheet dusted with flour. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Prepare the sauce. Melt butter on saucepan over medium heat. Heat until butter turns into a golden brown color and smells nutty, about 3 minutes. Add sage and arugula and stir until wilted. Reduce heat to low.
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add gnocchi and cook until they begin to float to the top, about 3-4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and remove gnocchi from the water. Immediately place them in the browned butter sauce and toss to combine. Add toasted pine nuts and season pasta with salt and pepper. Finish with shaved parmesan. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
I always considered gnocchi a type of pasta but it is actually a dumpling (who knew?) typically made from potatoes. Nowadays, there are many variations on gnocchi including sweet potato gnocchi. This dish does require more effort but the results are outstandingly better than buying the prepackaged ones, trust me.
Start by preparing the sweet potatoes. You can choose to roast the potatoes, steam, boil or even microwave them. As long as the sweet potatoes are cooked, that’s what counts. Peel the potatoes, mash them and let cool.
Combine the sweet potatoes with the ricotta, egg, salt and flour. The ricotta helps lighten the gnocchi, preventing the dough from becoming dense. Be careful when adding the flour as adding too much will also result in a dense dumpling.
The dough will feel sticky but should be able hold together. Be generous when dusting your clean counter with flour. Since the dough is sticky, it will require quite a bit of flour to prevent it from sticking to the counter. Divide the gnocchi into 4 sections to make it easier to handle. Roll each section into a log and cut into bite-size pieces. You don’t have to be exact with the measurements, just have fun with it!
If you have a gnocchi paddle, here’s the time to pull it out! The paddle will create the grooves you often see on the dumplings. You can also use the back of a fork. I skipped this step this time because honestly, who was going to appreciate the grooves other than me?
At this point, you can refrigerate the gnocchi until you are ready to boil them. I like to prepare a big batch and freeze half of it for next time. If you’re going to freeze the gnocchi, first lay them on a pan dusted with flour. Do not stack the gnocchi! Once froze, transfer them to a container and yes, now you can stack them.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil, make the browned butter sauce. Keep an eye on your butter since it can easily go from a lovely brown to burnt in no time. It should smell nutty and toasty. Add sage and arugula and toss until wilted. Go easy on the sage as it is very pungent.
Boil the gnocchi until they start to float to the top, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately drain them and add to the browned butter sauce. Finish with the pine nuts and shaved parmesan, season with salt and pepper and serve.
This sweet potato gnocchi was as lovely as expected. Browned butter and sage is probably the most popular sauce to pair with sweet potato gnocchi. However, the addition of wilted arugula, toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan elevate this dish to the next level. A fancy meal for an ordinary day!
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