Gnocchi are a lovely alternative to traditional pasta and make for a comforting accompaniment to hearty fall and winter dishes. With an origin in Roman times, “gnocchi” is derived from the words nocchio – meaning “knot in wood” – or nocca for “knuckle”. Over the last 2000 years, gnocchi have developed wonderful regional varieties across Italy, with gnudi in Tuscancy, Campanian strangulaprievete, the Apulian cavatelli, and the Sardinian malloreddus.
With the introduction of potatoes to Europe in the 16th century, potato-based gnocchi became a popular form – and this sweet potato version offers a rich twist on this classic.
These gnocchi are just heaven – they’re pillowy and soft, and have such a complex flavor from the sweet potato and the ricotta. Whenever I make fresh pasta, I make sure to keep the sauce simple – so I finished cooking them in a brown butter and sage sauce, which is incredibly flavorful but takes minutes to prepare. This is a great weekend meal and super comforting on a cold winter evening!
Sweet Potato Ricotta Gnocchi
- 1 cup cooked sweet potato*
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 1/2 – 3 cups 00 or All-Purpose flour, separated
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 5-10 sage leaves
- Ricotta Salata, optional
- Fill a large pot of water and set it over medium heat to boil. Add about 2 tablespoons of salt.
- In a medium bowl, combine sweet potatoes, ricotta, and egg yolk. Mash well with a fork until completely combined.
- Add 2 cups of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and combine with the sweet potato mixture. When the flour has been incorporated, dust a clean work surface with about 1/4 cup of the remaining flour. Overturn the dough onto the floured surface.
- Dust the dough with another 1/4 cup and begin to knead the dough, for just about 2 minutes. You want the dough to be dry enough that it does not stick to the surface. Overworking the dough will make the gnocchi dense when cooked, so knead just until everything is combined.
- Form the dough into a rectangular log, and cut off inch sections at a time, and roll into logs about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into one inch sections with a sharp knife or bench scraper. Place gnocchi on a floured plate or sheet pan, making sure not to overlap any pieces so that it does not stick.
- When the water is boiling, set a large saucepan over a medium high flame. Add the butter to the pan.
- Add the gnocchi to the boiling water – stir immediately to ensure no gnocchi stick to the bottom of the pan. The gnocchi will cook quickly, in about 3 minutes, and will be ready when the rise to the surface of the water.
- Meanwhile, continue to heat the butter until it begins to turn brown in color. When the color starts to change, add sage leaves and stir. Continue to cook until the butter is brown.
- With a fine mesh strainer, remove the gnocchi from the boiling water and add to the brown butter sauce. Toss to combine and cook for a minute more.
- Plate the gnocchi and garnish with julienned sage leaves and grated ricotta salata, if desired.
How much flour you need will depend in large part to the type of ricotta being used (whether it is fresh or store bought, and whether or not it has been drained). Grocery store ricotta will require more flour.
To easily prepare the sweet potatoes for this recipe, wrap whole sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, until fork tender. Let cool, and remove skins.