Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Rarely do I ever blog so quickly after making a dish, but I am so excited by this one I can hardly stand it.  Yesterday, I was day dreaming about food (as I so typically do, umm... pretty much all day long) and I saw that another blogger had recently took on the challenge of making gnocchi for the first time.  Now, I like gnocchi, but I won't typically order it at a restaurant for my entree.  It's a heavy dish.  But I've always wanted to make it.  You know, just to see if I could.

But what kind of gnocchi?  What sort of sauce?  A few weeks ago, I had an amazing dinner at a restaurant in the North End called Carmen.  The food was nothing less than spectacular.  It's a charming, tiny restaurant, totally unassuming in it's location away from hustle of Hanover street.  The wine list is nicely priced and the atmosphere is the perfect setting for an intimate meal.  I was immediately drawn to the Short Rib Ravioli with Sage Butter Sage, to which I ordered and savored every bite of.  It was one of the more memorable dishes I have had in a Boston area restaurant in months.  What I remember standing out was the brown butter sauce.  I'm such an addict for sauces of any kind, so I really wanted to lick the plate.  But again, manners, nice restaurant, blah blah blah.

A sister has got to be proper, yo.

Anyways, inspired by this amazing meal, I decided that at a later point, I would put short rib ravioli on my list of kitchen endeavors, but for tonight, it would be sweet potato gnocchi with a sage brown butter sauce.  Upon researching the intrawebs for a recipe, I realized that I pretty much had all ingredients on hand... except for a sweet potato.  Really?  Could it be this easy?

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter (as adapted from Epicurious)
  • 1 pound red-skinned sweet potatoe, rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese, drained in sieve 2 hours
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/4 cups (about) all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus whole leaves for garnish
Apologies in advance... I turned on my Nikon last night only to discover a dead battery.  And then tried my Sony p&s.  Dead.  Clearly, I overshot in Thailand.  So where's a girl to turn to?  i4.  Clearly.  Let's get after it.


Start by piercing your potato and popping it into the microwave for 5 minutes a side.  Because this was a very large sweet potato, I ended up cutting into after this and popping the middle sections back in for another 3 or so.  Then allow to cool.
Once cool, remove skins and mash in a mixing bowl.

Add in ricotta cheese.  I'm really not sure what purpose the sieve had for draining.  I did this step, but if you don't, I can't imagine it would change the recipe all that much.  Barely anything "sieved" out of mine.  Mix well.


 Add in parmesan, brown sugar, salt and nutmeg.

Again, mix well.

Now, it's time to add in the flour, 1/2 cup at time.  Don't pack the flour into the measuring cup, spoon it.  I am just learning this now and I think it's why all my baking sucks (things get too dense).  Slowly mix in the flour until it starts to flour a soft dough.

I decided that a soft dough meant that it wasn't that sticky anymore.  I ended up with about 2 1/4 cups flour in total.  I think one could get away with less.  I wonder if my gnocchi were too "doughy"?  Either way, feel it out.

That was a serious work out, all that dough mixing.  I did a cardio strength training class just before making these... so let me tell you, my arms were burning.    Now, divide the dough into sections.  I did about softball sized chunks.

It's time to get messy.  Throw some flour down on a clean surface and start rolling out your dough to form a long rope.  Roll back and forth in fluid motions and it will start to form a good shape.  Keep moving your hand through the rope. 

What a mess.  It's worth it though.  Cut into 1 inch pieces and set aside.  Now take a fork and run the tines over the little gnocchi pillows.  I imagined this would be easy.  It wasn't.  The dough was resistant.  I had to press hard.  Which then flattened and made ugly little gnocchis.  This is partly why I think I might have used a bit too much flour.  But again, it's all about trial and error.  Fork tines are superficial.  They don't affect the way it tastes, so don't worry your pretty little self about it too much.

Now, heat up a pot of salted, boiling water and throw these bad boys in.  They have little self timers on them.  When they rise, you know they are done.  I let mine rise and then boiled for another minute or so. 

Look at that?  Perfect looking gnocchis!

Now, heat up a skillet on medium high heat and toss in your butter.  Pay attention, this is going to happen fast.  Swirl your butter in the pan as it heats, watching very closely.

And then suddenly, it will be golden brown.  Toss in sage (they will bubble) and remove from heat.  If you keep on the heat, the butter will get very dark and will begin to break down.  You'll see ash like looking pieces in it.  This will not taste good.  The good news is, you can start over very easily!

This is what burnt butter looks like.  It's not golden brown.  Yuck.  This was my first attempt, my second attempt was much better. 

Add your drained gnocchi to the brown butter sauce and saute the gnocchi on medium high for just a few minutes.  You want to warm them back up and you don't want the butter to further burn. 

Amazing... if I don't say so myself.
This was ridiculously easy.  I saved two other chunks of dough to be frozen and finished at a later date.  These little gnocchis aren't healthy by any means, so I must eat them in small moderation.  The plate above had probably about 1,000 calories.  Yikes.  The good news is they are filling.  And easy as hell to make!


  1. Beautiful! I love that you thought they were easy to make. I've always found gnocchi to be a big pain in the butt but maybe I just made too many. Sweet potato, sage and browned butter is such a winning combo! I made similar tortellini over the holidays.

  2. I've always found gnocchi to be intimating! You make it looks so easy. I'm going to try it soon. I <3 sweet potatoes.

  3. Maybe I thought it was so easy because I made such a small batch and froze the rest? I bet this would make probably 100 gnocchis.... which would be very, very bad for my waistline! Can't have all that laying around the house...

  4. Christine AndersonApril 9, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    Made this for dinner last night with grilled salmon. It was hit! Thanks!

  5. I love this flavor combination. Sweet potatoes with brown butter and sage are always a winner with me. YUM!

    Nice work Kelley!