Gnocchi is one of my husband J.’s favorite things to eat. It brings back fond memories of a college semester spent studying in Rome. A classmate brought a gnocchi recipe with him, and home-cooked meals during that adventure abroad involved perfecting potato dumplings. Gnocchi is deceptively simple with its uncomplicated ingredients—potato, egg, flour—but the technique requires practice to get superb results.
My attempts at gnocchi have ranged from dense failure to pillowy success. Along the way I have figured out a few musts for light, mouthwatering dumplings. Roast the potatoes and use a ricer or food mill instead of a fork to mash them. Work with warm potatoes to ensure a delicate consistency. Go easy on the flour to avoid an unpleasant gluey texture. While not traditional Italian, this recipe uses sweet potato and walnuts for a more complex and nutty flavor.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fried Sage
Adapted from Gourmet October 2009
1-1/4 pounds russet (baking potatoes)
1 (3/4-pound) sweet potato
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated, plus more for serving
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped and toasted
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Pierce the russet and sweet potatoes with a fork and roast on a sheet pan for 1 hour until tender. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and feed them through a potato ricer or food mill fitted with a fine disk.
In a small bowl whisk together the egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Make a well in the warm potatoes and pour in the egg mixture. Gently stir with a wooden spoon to combine and add the Parmesan. Mix in the flour 1/2 cup at a time until it is fully incorporated, and the potatoes are barely sticky. (You may not need all the flour.)
On a lightly floured worksurface take a handful of dough and roll it into a 1/2-inch thick rope. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces and roll down the tines of the back of a fork or a gnocchi board. Transfer the gnocchi to a flour-dusted plate or sheet pan.
In a large skillet melt the butter over medium high heat. When the butter starts to turn brown and has a nutty aroma, fry the sage leaves until crisp, about 30 seconds. Remove the sage from the butter and take the skillet off the heat when the butter is golden brown.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook half the gnocchi for about 3 minutes until they float to the top. With a slotted spoon transfer to a plate and cook the remaining gnocchi.
Return the brown butter to medium heat and gently toss the gnocchi in the butter. Serve topped with sage, walnuts and Parmesan.
Note: Uncooked gnocchi can be frozen in a single layer and then transferred to an airtight container. The frozen gnocchi does not need to be thawed before cooking.