How-To: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage, Walnuts and Brown Butter

(Forgive my undying love for Gourmet magazine. I’m still sad that it won’t be around after next month. My tributes will continue over the next few weeks, I’m sure.)

The first page I opened to in the October 2009 issue of Gourmet showed lovely orange gnocchi with a sprinkling of cheese and dotted with sage leaves.

I fell in love and shoved the magazine into my husband’s hands and asked him if he wanted me to make this for him. He got a dreamy look in his eyes and said, “Yes.”

This has been one of my favorite, favorite, favorite recipes. It says it is supposed to feed 6-8 people. At our house, it was more like 4. I put in extra time at the gym the next morning to work it off–but it was completely worth it.

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I changed the recipe to fit what we had on hand. I picked some sage from Aunt Robbie’s garden. And I’ve resolved to plant my own next summer. Fresh sage is one of those herbs that screams autumn.

You can find the original recipe here. I’ve included my changes below.

I fried the sage leaves in a little olive oil and then the walnuts. Instead of using the olive oil as a base for the sauce, I poured it out to use for something else later, and instead added 4 Tbsp. of butter to my skillet and let it brown. We’ve fallen in love with brown butter, too. Oh. my.

The recipe also calls for adding cheese to the gnocchi dough. Because I was concerned with all the added calories and fat that might add, I left it out.

Ha! You know me better than that. I didn’t have enough on hand, so I left it out and used what I had as a garnish. (If I’d had enough cheese I would have added it in, so I left that in the modified recipe below.)

If you can, try to use freshly grated nutmeg. The flavor is so much better.

Also, I used sweet potatoes, not yams (sometimes mistaken for sweet potatoes), thus the lighter yellow color. They gave the gnocchi a slight sweetness that we loved, but also an earthiness.

Go make it. Don’t be scared to make gnocchi–if I can do it, you can do it. Seriously. What are you waiting for?

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage, Walnuts, and Brown Butter
adapted from Gourmet, October 2009
Serves 6-8 (or 4, if you’re like us)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 lb russet (baking potatoes)
1 (3/4-lb) sweet potato
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for serving
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sage leaves (from 1 bunch)
1/2 to 3/4 cup whole walnuts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.

Pierce russet and sweet potatoes in several places with a fork, then bake in a 4-sided sheet pan until just tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Cool potatoes slightly, then peel and force through ricer into sheet pan, spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely.

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Lightly flour 2 or 3 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper. Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl. Gather potatoes into a mound in sheet pan, using a pastry scraper if you have one, and form a well in center.

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Pour egg mixture into well, then knead into potatoes. (Or just crack the egg into the center, sprinkle the salt, pepper, and nutmeg over the top, and use a fork to break it up and mix in the riced potatoes.)

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(Thanks to my husband for taking this lovely picture of me kneading the dough.)

Knead in cheese and 1 1/2 cups flour, then knead, adding more flour as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Dust top lightly with some of flour.

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Cut dough into 6 pieces. Form 1 piece of dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rope on a lightly floured surface. Cut rope into 1/2-inch pieces. Gently roll each piece into a ball and lightly dust with flour.

Repeat with remaining 5 pieces of dough.

Turn a fork over and hold at a 45-degree angle, with tips of tines touching work surface. Working with 1 at a time, roll gnocchi down fork tines, pressing with your thumb, to make ridges on 1 side. Transfer gnocchi as formed to baking sheets. (Kind of flick them off the fork and let them fall to the baking sheet. Once you get going, it goes quickly. Dust your fingers with flour and wipe off the fork tines if the gnocchi are sticking.)

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Fry sage leaves and walnuts:

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Fry sage leaves in 3 batches, stirring, until they turn just a shade lighter and crisp (they will continue to crisp as they cool), about 30 seconds per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt.

Fry the walnuts in the remaining oil until toasted and golden. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt. Pour off the remaining oil and wipe out the skillet.

Make sauce:

Add butter to skillet and cook until golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Cook gnocchi:

Add some of the gnocchi to a pasta pot of well-salted boiling water and stir. Cook until they float to surface, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large serving bowl. Cook remaining gnocchi in same manner, transferring to the bowl.

When all of the gnocchi have been cooked, drizzle with brown butter and gently stir to coat them. Sprinkle with fried sage, walnuts and grated cheese.

Cooks’ notes:

* Uncooked gnocchi can be frozen (first in 1 layer on a baking sheet, then transferred to a sealable bag) up to 1 month. Do not thaw before cooking. Chestnuts can be sliced 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
* Sauce and topping can be halved; make full recipe of gnocchi and freeze half of it.

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24 Comments

  1. I’m sick about Gourmet disappearing. Love that magazine. WOW, this looks like a great project for fall! Gnocchi is on my list of things to make. Delicious photos!

  2. TASTY. Charlie’s face wasn’t nearly as endearing as your husband’s when I told him what I was making for dinner. But after he tried it he had three servings. He fell in love like I knew he would. Thank you!

    Although in Italy they only make Gnocchi on Thursdays … I’ll remember that next time.

  3. Homemade gnoccis is unlike any other experience.

    I served a mission in Uruguay where we ate gnoccis on a regular basis. Nothing else fills you up so…well. In my 1st area, my trainer could eat 2 heaping plates worth. By the end of my mission, so was I.

  4. What kind of flour do you recommend to make this gluten free? I’ve tried to make gnocci with rice flour only and it didn’t do well in hot water. I despise garbanzo flours. Any suggestions would be welcome. Thanks!

  5. I usually use a combination of flours–tapioca, brown rice, sorghum, and potato starch. I also add some xanthan gum.

    These are good recipes for all-purpose GF flour mix:

    http://www.artofglutenfreebaking.com/2009/11/the-story-behind-my-gluten-free-flour-mix/

    http://www.glutenfreecookingschool.com/archives/gluten-free-all-purpose-flour-mix/

    http://glutenfreegirl.com/how-to-make-a-gluten-free-all-purpose-flour-mix/

    p.s. I’m with you on the garbanzo flour. I love garbanzo beans, but the flour? Not so much.

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