Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Balsamic Brown Butter Sauce

20 Jan

I’m just going to be upfront with this…I love gnocchi. My mom said it was one of my favorite things to eat when I was little. How can you go wrong with potato, flour and cheese? The best gnocchi I ever had was in Vernazza, a little town in the Cinque Terre region of Italy. I’ve tried a couple of times to make gnocchi at home since then and failed miserably each time…the first time I had really lumpy gnocchi and the second time I had a pile of mush. So I’ve been a little shy about trying gnocchi at home again, but when my co-worker sent me this recipe for a sweet potato gnocchi with a balsamic brown butter sauce, I had to give it a try. I mean, third time’s the charm right?

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Balsamic Brown Butter Sauce
For the gnocchi:
2 red-skinned sweet potatoes (about 1 lb)
1 15oz container of ricotta, strained in a sieve/colander for 2 hours
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
2 to 2 1/2 cups (maybe more) all-purpose flour

For the brown butter:
8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 c loosley packed sage leaves
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Make the gnocchi
1. Wash the sweet potatoes, prick all over with a fork and microwave them using the baked potato button. (You could also microwave on high about 5 minutes per side) You want the sweet potatoes to be tender.
2. Cut the potatoes in half, and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Thoroughly mash the sweet potatoes.
3. Add the ricotta, stirring until thoroughly combined. Stir in the Parmesan and salt.
4. Begin to add the flour, 1/2 c at a time until a soft, pliable dough forms. Have patience here! Sweet potatoes vary in the amount of moisture they contain, so the amount of flour you will need might vary. But, the trick is not to add too much flour, otherwise your gnocchi will be very dense. After adding about 1 1/2 c of flour I started using my hands to mix the flour in. It made it easier to mix and feel when the dough got to the “soft, pliable” point.
5. Shape the dough into a large ball.
6. Flour a baking sheet and set it aside.
7. Flour your work surface and divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Take one portion and roll it onto your work surface using your hands until it’s about 20 inches in length. Cut about 1 inch pieces to form each gnocchi and transfer them to the floured baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 5 pieces of dough.

Cutting the little gnocchi

Cutting the little gnocchi

8. Using the tines of a fork, press each gnocchi to form little indentations.

Make the brown butter
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you’re making the sauce. I like to add a little olive oil to the sauce to keep the pasta from sticking. The sauce will cook in about the time it takes the water to boil.
2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally.
3. Cook until the foam subsides and it begins to turn a golden brown color (about 3 minutes)
4. Turn off the heat and add the sage leaves, cook for about 1 minute.
5. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Save to toss with the warm gnocchi.

Cook the gnocchi
1. When the water is boiling, add a portion of the gnocchi to the boiling water and stir.
2. Let the gnocchi cook until the float back up to the top, about 1 minute. Be careful not to let the gnocchi cook too long! They’ll take on water and get mushy.

Watching the gnocchi float to the top of the pot

Watching the gnocchi float to the top of the pot

3. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon into a serving bowl. Repeat until all your gnocchi is cooked.
4. Toss with the brown butter sauce, top with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

 

I was so nervous but the gnocchi turned out delicious! The texture was right and the sauce had the perfect flavors to compliment the sweet potatoes. It took me about an hour and 15 minutes to cook all of it, not counting the time I left the ricotta out to strain. I suggest a lot of patience with the dough though, take your time and don’t be afraid to add more flour to your work surface or hands to help keep the dough more manageable. Now to add a little bit of protein, I also cooked up some sweet Italian turkey sausage while I was cooking the gnocchi and mixed it in with the pasta. The savory of the sauce and sweet of the sausage worked really well together! I’m really happy that there are leftovers for lunch today!

– LG

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