Gazing upon rows and rows of handmade, tender sweet potato gnocchi has made me realize to appreciate the small things in this life.
My husband Tim and I were in the kitchen mixing and rolling sweet potato gnocchi dough. We were working side by side, with flour-covered fingers, watching the light from the setting sun streak across our dining room.
I hope he knows, really knows, that I feel so remarkably blessed and happy to share a simple, yet so fulfilling, life together.
In our uptight world of do-do-doing and go-go-going, it’s a good reminder to know it’s not how many recipes you make this week, or how many Facebook friends you have, or what long list of accomplishments you can say you’ve achieved in your life. It’s not your scope of followers, or sphere of influence, or money in the bank account.
It’s looking, stopping and looking, at the task you’re doing today. It’s considering the thing in front of you in this moment.
It’s plopping one sweet potato gnocchi after another into water, watching the liquid turn cloudy, waiting for the dough to float.
I have this growing need in my heart for this. I have this growing need to tune out everything around me – the iPhone, the to-do list, the personal drama – and to focus totally on one thing, just one thing, so I can pay attention to it. It’s stunning how infrequently this happens.
So here’s what I’d like to move towards, intentionally, more and more in our life together:
To sit with Tim at dinner and give him my full attention, no laptop or TV allowed.
To go for an autumn walk together, hand in hand, and looking at the waving branches and smelling the crisp air.
And to fight fiercely for the joy in food.
Like the raw pleasure of combining pureed sweet potatoes with flour, pepper, salt, and freshly grated nutmeg, forming that into a dough, and seeing something entirely new come into being right before your eyes.
You who read here understand this.
You know the way that being in your kitchen with a recipe and ingredients can be so calming and rewarding, especially when you finish with a plateful of sweet potato gnocchi swimming in a brown butter sage sauce, a meal you made with your two hands while you mixed, created, and cooked.
I know you know it. And I know you love it.Print
Do you love gnocchi, but want something different? Try this sweet potato version with a sage brown butter sauce and pecorino cheese.
- 2 cups sweet potato puree, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 1 cup shredded pecorino cheese
For the Gnocchi:
- On a large flat surface or in a large bowl, combine the sweet potato puree with salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Add 1/2 cup flour at a time, mixing well with your hands after each addition, until the dough comes together to resemble a pasta dough. You may not need to use all of the flour. As soon as you have a soft, slightly elastic dough, shape it into a ball and divide it into 4 equal portions.
- Fill a large stockpot with water and a handful of salt. Place on the stove over high heat, and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, with floured hands, roll each of the four portions into logs with a 1/2-inch thickness. Dust with flour if the dough feels sticky.
- Use a floured knife or pastry cutter to slice the logs into 1-inch squares.
- Once the water is boiling, carefully add half of the gnocchi. Stir with a spoon for the first 30 seconds to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Cook for about five minutes, or until the gnocchi float to the top of the water. Once they float, remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large plate.
- Repeat the process with the remaining gnocchi.
For the Sauce and Assembly:
- Once all the gnocchi have cooked, prepare the sauce. Chop the butter into evenly sized cubes. Heat the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Once it’s completely melted, add the chopped sage leaves. Keep on the heat until the butter darkens and smells nutty, then lower the heat.
- Place the half of the gnocchi in the pan, rolling them around for a minute or two to coat with butter. Remove them to a plate. Repeat with the second batch.
- Top gnocchi with shredded pecorino cheese and serve warm.
- Category: Gnocchi
- Method: Oven/Stovetop
- Cuisine: Dumplings
Keywords: sweet potato, sage, brown butter
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Roast and Puree the Sweet Potatoes
1 large sweet potato will yield about 1 1/2 to 2 cups pureed. Plan on buying 2 large, or 3 smaller sweet potatoes.
To roast the sweet potatoes, it will be a similar method to how Foodal prefers to roast squash to make puree.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pierce the whole sweet potatoes with the tines of a fork. Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast until the flesh is tender, about one hour – you’ll be able to easily insert a knife or a fork into the flesh.
Pulse to puree, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed, adding more water if necessary.
Step 2 – Make the Dough
Let the sweet potato puree cool to room temperature before making the dough – a hot puree will cause the final product to be chewy and gummy.
On a large flat surface or in a large bowl, combine the sweet potato puree with salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Add 1/2 cup flour at a time, mixing well with your hands after each addition, until the dough comes together to resemble a pasta dough. It should be smooth, soft, and slightly elastic. It should not be excessively sticky.
Also, try grinding your own nutmeg. This is a spice that brings out all of its flavors when freshly ground. A fine zester like a microplane will be best.
I prefer to use my hands for this step, to get a good feel of the dough’s texture. However, you can use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to mix the dough – just be sure to not overwork it!
Step 3 – Roll
At this point, fill a large stockpot with water and a handful of salt. Place on the stove over high heat, and bring to a boil as you are shaping and rolling the dough.
Roll the dough into an even ball and divide it into 4 equal portions.
With floured hands, roll each of the four portions into logs with a 1/2-inch thickness. Dust with flour if the dough feels sticky as you are rolling.
Step 4 – Cut
Use a floured sharp knife or pastry cutter to slice the logs into 1-inch squares.
Use additional flour on the knife or pastry cutter if it is sticking to the pieces.
Step 5 – Boil the Gnocchi
Once the water is boiling, carefully add half of the gnocchi. Stir with a spoon for the first 30 seconds to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan – they WILL stick!
Cook for about five minutes, or until the gnocchi float to the top of the water. Once they float, remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large plate.
Repeat the process with the remaining gnocchi.
Step 6 – Make the Sauce
Chop the unsalted butter into evenly sized cubes.
Heat the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Once it’s completely melted, add the chopped sage leaves. Keep on the heat until the butter darkens and smells nutty, then lower the heat.
For more information on how to brown butter, take a look at our tutorial!
Step 7 – Combine
Place the half of the gnocchi in the pan, rolling them around for a minute or two to coat with butter. Remove them to a plate. Repeat with the second batch.
Top gnocchi with shredded pecorino and serve warm. Enjoy!
Can I Sub Out the Butter?
Looking for a healthier sauce option?
In lieu of the butter sauce, just drizzle the boiled gnocchi with peppery extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with pecorino. My in-laws gave us a bottle of rosemary-infused olive oil last Christmas that was practically made for this dish.
But it’s hard to beat the nutty taste of browned butter.
If you love the taste of brown butter, indulge away with more of our favorite buttery dinner recipes:
- Homemade Brown Butter Brioche Dinner Rolls
- Pecorino-Encrusted Cod in Brown Butter
- Roasted Carrot Ravioli in Thyme Brown Butter
Tell me… do you take an introspective look when making your own homemade comfort food? How are you trying to appreciate the small things in life? Let me know in the comments below.
Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on January 8, 2013. Last updated: November 2, 2019 at 21:30 pm. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.