I first stumbled upon gnocchi in what might be its most dressed-down, non-homemade form: in the frozen section at the supermarket at 99 cents a bag! On par with the price of plain pasta, but requiring only half the cooking time (4-5 minutes) and in need of just butter and salt on top, it was a win-win carb-centric dinner for a busy New York teacher like myself. Only a year later did I try making it myself, using a recipe that didn’t call for the common ingredient of potato, but rather, consisted of ricotta, flour, parmesan cheese and parsley. That would be my 1st New York kitchen fire. Boiled over the gnocchi? Oh. No. I caught the actual paper recipe on fire as it sat precariously on the counter next to the burner. Whoops!
Fast-forward to the present: I semi-regularly make my own gnocchi (with a fork, not a gnocchi paddle, so mine are what I like to call “freeform”) and go the extra mile with the traditional brown butter and sage. For fall, I can’t think of a better gnocchi than one made with sweet potatoes (hmm, maybe pumpkin? anyone?); it complements the nuttiness of the brown butter and the peppery piney flavor of the sage so divinely well! It could be a nice alternative to sweet potatoes at the Thanksgiving table, perhaps?
2 pounds sweet potatoes, washed, dried and pierced with a fork
1 12-oz container of ricotta cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3 cups flour (or enough to make a soft dough)
6 tbsp butter
4 tbsp chopped sage
Salt and pepper
(1) On a plate, microwave the pierced potatoes for about 10 minutes, turning once (or cook them whatever way you’re used to so that they become soft inside).
(2) Cool for about 5 minutes, cut in half, and then cool enough so that you can handle them. Scrape out the flesh (ewwww) into a big bowl.
(3) Add ricotta, Parmesan, brown sugar, salt and nutmeg and mash all together until well-blended. (I cheated a bit and used the food processor–my hands hurt from typing all day!)
(4) Stir in flour about 1/2 cup at a time until you get a soft dough.
(5) Divide up dough into fist-sized balls and roll each into a rope an inch thick.
(6) Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces and roll over fork tines or gnocchi paddle to make the ridges. (Should I buy a gnocchi paddle? Superfluous?)
(7) Boil in a large pot of salted water, cooking the gnocchi in batches and removing with a slotted spoon when they float to the top (so fun to watch them!) after 4-5 minutes.
(8) To make the brown butter, place butter in a small saucepan and heat until it melts and becomes a golden brown shade and smells fragrant, stirring almost constantly. (Don’t walk away from the stove–it only takes a few minutes!) Remove from heat immediately, add chopped sage and salt and pepper to taste.
(9) Combine gnocchi and brown sage butter and serve!