Sweet potato gnocchi with walnuts and fried sage leaves
So what do you think foodies do late at night? message each other about foodie things, of course. Last night my friend Laura was asking Val and I on our group chat where she could buy sweet potato gnocchi in town, so I sent her my gnocchi recipe. Not that I don’t buy gnocchi sometimes, I do, but they are never as good as when you make them at home. The flavour and texture is somehow better freshly made at home.
So we went back and forth a bit about gnocchi and I was surprised to see that I haven’t posted the sweet potato gnocchi recipe on the blog. I have included it in my pasta book from a few years ago, but it wasn’t on the blog. There are, however, seven gnocchi recipes here, including a basic recipe.
So you know where this is going. I thought about it all night, okay, of course I slept too, but this morning got up totally in the mood for making sweet potato gnocchi.
I checked for the ingredients:
A few sweet potatoes? √
Fresh sage leaves? growing in my rooftop garden √√√
Walnuts? yes, in the freezer √√√√
Butter? in the frtidge √√√√√
So, I am all set.
I use 1.5 lb of potatoes and 1.5 cups flour as the basic measurements and usually do not use eggs. I also do not salt the gnocchi but I do salt the cooking water.
How you cook the potatoes is important. You want the potatoes to be dry and fluffy, not soggy and waterlogged, so either bake them in their skin, boil them in the skin, steam them or even microwave (oh, horrors). Having said that, this time I cut them and steamed over boiling water and it still worked fine (my apology to all my Italian friends). Whichever way you cook them Once cooked and still hot, put them through a potato ricer or mash them with a potato masher to a smooth yet fluffy consistency. Don’t overwork the potatoes and let them cool before proceeding.
I make them northern Italian style, with only potatoes and flour and no eggs. I find that they are lighter and fluffier that way.
Some potatoes require more flour than others so add one cup flour, then add just enough of the next 1/2 cup flour until the dough is easy to handle and doesn’t stick. Too much flour will make the gnocchi heavy.
When the dough is ready cut it in 6-8 pieces. Roll each into logs of equal thickness, then cut into equal size pieces.
The grooves on the surface are optional and there are several videos online showing how to roll them. You can roll the gnocchi with your thumb against the gnocchi board to create an indentation, or with your palm against the board. If you don’t have a gnocchi board you can make the ridges by pressing the gnocchi against the tines of a fork, but, you can also keep them plain and pillowy.
Cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water as you would a dumpling. When they float to the surface let them romp around for less than 30 seconds and remove to a dish. If you do not proceed with the recipe right away drizzle a little melted butter over to prevent them from sticking.
4 generous servings
1.5 lb sweet potatoes, peeld and cut in large chunks
1.5 cups flour
2 tablespoons butter (or 1:1 olive oil and butter)
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper
8 fresh sage leaves
1 cup oil for frying
Steam the potatoes over boiling water making sure they do not touch the surface of the water. See note above about cooking the potatoes.
When they are done, put them through a potato ricer or mash until completely smooth with no lumps. Do not over mix though. Let the potatoes cool.
When the potatoes have cooled add one cup flour and mix until a dough begins to form. I work at first in the bowl and then transfer to the countertop and work over a sheet of parchment, it’s easier to clean this way. This is not an elastic dough like bread or pizza dough, but it will come together nicely. Do not over work the dough.
When the dough is smooth cur it in 4-6 pieces and roll each with the palms of your hands in to a log. Roll all remaining dough into logs of equal circumference.
Cur the logs into individual gnocchi. Line them up and cut 2-3 logs together so the pieces are more equal in size.
Now you can leave them pillowy or to create the grooves roll them over a gnocchi board or use the tines of a fork to create the grooves. At this point you can freeze the gnocchi: If I make too much for one dinner I freeze the extra first on a baking sheet until solid and then place in freezer bags.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt liberally.
Drop just enough gnocchi into the boiling water so they are not crowded and have room to bounce around. I slide them off into the water using the parchment sheet so they go in all at once.
When they pop to the surface let them dance around for another 20 seconds or so and immediately remove with a slotted spoon into a dish.
Repeat with remaining gnocchi.
If you are not finishing the cooking now, drizzle the gnocchi with a tablespoon of melted butter and mix gently.
To finish the cooking, melt the butter in a skillet large enough to hold all the gnocchi that you are cooking in one layer. Add the shallot and sugar and let cook until they turn golden.
Add the gnocchi and gently move them around with a wooden spoon so they are coated with the butter. Cook until they begin to turn golden in spots When they are ready remove to a side dish.
Add the walnuts to the pan and cook a few seconds until they are fragrant, tossing them around the pan.
To fry the sage leaves: heat oil in a small pot, when the oil is hot drop in two sage leaves at a time and let them fry quickly, turning once. don’t let the oil get too hot, so they remain bright green. Remove to a paper towel to drain.
To serve spoon some of the gnocchi into each plate, add the walnuts and garnish with fried sage and shaved parmesan.
Optional: a little drizzle of aged balsamic.