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meatless monday: sweet potato gnocchi with crispy sage

December 6, 2010

Gnocchi are a KC household favorite.  And come the fall and early winter months with beautiful sweet potatoes making the rounds at the farmers markets, these gnocchi rock.  In theory, you can use all sorts of sauces to go with these, but I think they shine best with a simple topping of brown butter, parmigiano and crispy sage flakes.

Word of warning:  to enjoy this recipe on a meatless Monday, make sure to prepare the night before.  While technically speaking this is not a challenging recipe, it is time consuming.  In my opinion though, it’s worth every second and if you double the recipe as I did the last time around, you can portion out  servings into zip-loc baggies (use a little extra flour coating to avoid too much sticking) and freeze for future use.  Hooray for planning.

Some tips I can offer with the gift of hindsight:

  • Don’t fret about the size of the gnocchi or the fork marks.  This is time consuming enough as it is, I’m not going to worry about the aesthetic stuff.
  • I made these in Switzerland back when I didn’t have a food mill.  I used a coarse strainer as a stand-in and it worked just fine (although not nearly as easy as using a food mill)
  • If you are freezing, I simply took a big lump of dough and froze it in a baggie.  The day before using, I simply pop it into the fridge so the dough is pliable when I go to use it.  Roll it out and cut as usual and it’s as good as the first time.

sweet potato gnocchi with crispy sage
adapted from Gourmet


  • 1 1/4 pounds russet (baking potatoes)
  • 1 (3/4-pound) sweet potato
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon 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 ( 1 bunch)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


to make the gnocchi :

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.
  2. 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.
  3. Cool potatoes slightly, then peel and force through ricer into sheet pan, spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely.
  4. Lightly flour 2 or 3 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
  5. Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.
  6. Gather potatoes into a mound in sheet pan, using a pastry scraper if you have one, and form a well in center.
  7. Pour egg mixture into well, then knead into potatoes. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Repeat with remaining 5 pieces of dough.
  10. 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.

making the crispy sage:

  1. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers.
  2. Fry sage leaves in 2-3 batches, stirring, until they turn just a shade lighter and crisp (they will continue to crisp as they cool), about 30 seconds per batch.
  3. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt.

making the brown butter “sauce”:

  1. Add butter to oil in skillet with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until golden-brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

preparing the gnocchi:

  1. Add half of gnocchi to a pasta pot of well-salted boiling water and stir.
  2. Cook until they float to surface, about 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer with a slotted spoon to skillet with butter sauce.
  4. Cook remaining gnocchi in same manner, transferring to skillet as cooked.
  5. Heat gnocchi in skillet over medium heat, stirring to coat.  I always taste a gnocchi at this step just to make sure it couldn’t use a little extra salt or benefit from some freshly ground pepper.
  6. Serve sprinkled with fried sage and a healthy handful of grated parmigiano.
10 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2010 11:37 pm

    I can see that these are worth the effort to make. They sound fabulous and with the butter sauce and fried sage and parmigiano, oh boy, just heavenly.
    🙂 Mandy

    • December 7, 2010 12:43 pm

      They are! I can always judge how much I love a recipe based on how many times I make it after the first time and this is definitely one I’ve returned to a few times. Enjoy!

  2. December 7, 2010 9:58 am

    These look amazing! I’ve been thinking of attempting gnocchi and this might be the recipe to get me to make the effort.

    • December 7, 2010 12:43 pm

      They were my first effort and have been the only ones that I’ve returned to make several times…love them!

  3. December 10, 2010 1:36 am

    I’ve been looking for a good recipe for sweet potato gnocchi + sage since having some heavenly ones at a restaurant last year — yours look perfectly pillowy and light, will have to give them a try!

    • December 10, 2010 9:16 am

      I’m so glad I could connect you with a good recipe. I really love these–I hope they live up to the ones that you had last year!

  4. December 21, 2010 12:32 pm

    I made homemade gnocchi once. I can attest to the time consumption, but you’re right. It’s so worth every second. Yours looks fabulous and is tempting me to trash my kitchen and make another batch for dinner tonight. Brown butter and sage – swoon.

    I host a weekly Meatless Monday blog carnival. This would be a great post to link to it.

    I invite you to add your meatless posts to the carnival and help spread the Meatless Monday movement!

    ♥ Rebecca Jean
    Midnight Maniac

    • December 21, 2010 1:59 pm

      I write off kitchen tidiness from December 20th straight through the New Year, so I say trash away. Thanks for the invitation, I’ll definitely check out your site.

  5. Ana permalink
    March 2, 2011 10:22 pm

    Obsessed with this dish. I’m forcing it upon everyone I encounter: neighbors, parents, co-workers. Super delish!

    • March 2, 2011 11:34 pm

      Something tells me they probably don’t need to be forced quite so much! Hope the neighborhood loves it as much as you do!

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