Tuesday, October 13, 2009

sweet potato gnocchi

sweet potato gnocchi

It is customary, when making something for the first time, to start with the basic building block and build on out from thereon. I, on the other hand, like to raise the stakes a bit. Normally, you’d start with plain gnocchi to get a feel for it, learn how to get them just right before trying a variation. And even though making gnocchi was on my to-do list for quite some time, I fully got on board to make them only after seeing the October Gourmet recipe listed as Ruth Reichl’s Top 10 recipes in the issue. They were sweet potato gnocchi and I pretty much find sweet potato anything irresistible. There was just one catch – gnocchi is one of the dishes that for some reason scared and intimidated me. Hence the reason I haven’t made them yet.

one of these things is not like the other!raw milk parmesan is how i roll
sweet potato gnocchisage from my window!!!

But surely, you must remember what I said to you about fear and conquering it? Well, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and tackle that which made me nervous. If I tell you to be bold, shouldn’t, myself, adopt the very mantra I seemingly espouse?

the potato wellsweet potato gnocchi
my ball of doughrolling the dough

Where do I begin with gnocchi? My love for gnocchi goes beyond words. Made properly they should be like little clouds of goodness, whisking you away upwards to the sky. Made poorly, they’re heavy clumps of dough that stick to the roof of your mouth. In between, they’re perfectly palatable, but once you’ve tasted amazing ghnocchi, that’s pretty much all you think about when you’re eating the so-so ones.

like little pillows

It’s the kind of dish that makes me think: one false move, and it’s ruined. I suppose while something like stewed prunes is impossible to run into the ground, a dish like gnocchi takes practice. You get a feel for the dough, its consistency. You’ll know immediately if needs more flour, or if your potatoes aren’t dry enough.

sweet potato gnocchi

Because these gnocchi are made with sweet and regular potatoes, and there are a few things I’ve learned that I’d like to share with you. First, is that it’s very important to use the right potatoes – Russets have a high amount of starch and lower amount of water, compared to their other spud cousins – and that’s exactly what you want – a nice, starchy potato. Sweet potatoes, however, are much more moisture-laden, so next time I make these, I will cook the sweet potatoes a wee bit longer to dry them out a bit more. Having more moisture in your dough will yield a more doughy gnocchi – and what you’re after are little clouds of goodness; sweet potato goodness, no less!

sweet potato gnocchi

I chose to serve these in (what else?) a little brown butter (because I can and I will) and olive oil sauce where you slightly brown the gnocchi after boiling them, and sprinkle a bit of fried sage and shaved Parmiggiano Reggiano and some freshly ground black pepper. And when I finished my plate and used some bread to absorb some of the residual brown butter sauce, I once again was amazed at how incredibly sublime simple food tastes.A few ingredients, a little time, a hungry me. For that kind of bliss, I’ll raise the stakes any day!

sweet potato gnocchi

Quick note:
Here as Sassy Radish, we’re doing a little bit of maintenance and will be migrating over to a new platform (shhhh, that’s all I can tell you, but trust me it’ll be awesome when it’s done!). So, if things are a little wonky here, please be patient! When all is said and done Sassy Radish will be snappier and sassier and have more functionality than ever before.


Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fried Sage and Shaved Chestnuts
Adapted from Gourmet, October 2009

Ingredients:
1 1/4 lb russet (baking potatoes)
1 (3/4-lb) sweet potato
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for serving
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sage leaves (from 1 bunch)
1/3 cup bottled roasted chestnuts, very thinly sliced with an adjustable-blade slicer or a sharp vegetable peeler (I skipped this)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

a potato ricer or a food mill fitted with fine disk

Preparation for gnocchi:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.

2. Pierce russet and sweet potatoes in several places with a fork, then bake in a 4-sided sheet pan until just tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Maybe you might want to cook the sweet potato a bit longer? Because it’s got more moisture than those starchy russets, so more liquid means doughier gnocchi? I’ll have to experiment, but these are my preliminary thoughts based on one attempt.)

3. Cool potatoes slightly, then peel and force through ricer into sheet pan, spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely. (I did mine with a fork. And in retrospect I think a ricer would have been key.)

4. Lightly flour 2 or 3 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

5. Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl.

6. Gather potatoes into a mound in sheet pan, using a pastry scraper if you have one, and form a well in center.

7. Pour egg mixture into well, then knead into potatoes. Knead in cheese and 11/2 cups flour, then knead, adding more flour as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Dust top lightly with some of flour.

8. Cut dough into 6 pieces. Form 1 piece of dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rope on a lightly floured surface. Cut rope into 1/2-inch pieces. Gently roll each piece into a ball and lightly dust with flour.

9. Repeat with remaining 5 pieces of dough.

10. Turn a fork over and hold at a 45-degree angle, with tips of tines touching work surface. Working with 1 at a time, roll gnocchi down fork tines, pressing with your thumb, to make ridges on 1 side. Transfer gnocchi as formed to baking sheets.

Fry sage leaves and chestnuts:

1. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Fry sage leaves in 3 batches, stirring, until they turn just a shade lighter and crisp (they will continue to crisp as they cool), about 30 seconds per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt. (When you first place the leaves into oil, they’ll sizzle and make happy crackling noises, and as they cook, the noises will subside. When you feel like sage has “calmed down” you can fish it out. It’s pretty much done.)

2. Fry chestnuts in 3 batches, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 30 seconds per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt. Reserve oil in skillet. (I omitted chestnuts because I wanted to use the fresh ones, but ’tis not yet the season for them. Next time, I promise!)


Make sauce:

1. Add butter to oil in skillet with 1/2 tsp salt and cook until golden-brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Cook gnocchi:

1. Add half of gnocchi to a pasta pot of well-salted boiling water and stir. Cook until they float to surface, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to skillet with butter sauce. Cook remaining gnocchi in same manner, transferring to skillet as cooked.
2. Heat gnocchi in skillet over medium heat, stirring to coat.
3. Serve sprinkled with fried sage and chestnuts and grated cheese.

Notes:
Uncooked gnocchi can be frozen (first in 1 layer on a baking sheet, then transferred to a sealable bag) up to 1 month. Do not thaw before cooking. If freezing gnocchi, you might want to half the sauce.

Serves6 (main course) to 8 (first course)

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31 Comments

  • 1
    maggie said:

    Yes! Inspired to make the recipes that intimidate me…gnocchi is high on the list…

    October 13, 2009 1:38 pm
  • 2
    Whitney said:

    I have sadly never had gnocchi. Can you believe it? Congrats tackling one of your cooking fears!

    October 13, 2009 3:42 pm
  • 3
    Elizabeth said:

    This looks absolutely lovely! Sweet potatoes and sage are such a wonderful combination. I’ve made gnocchi once before and it turned out really well so maybe I’ll give this a shot. Beautifully done!

    October 13, 2009 4:22 pm
  • 4
    Chiara said:

    Gnocchi is my all time favorite meal. I grew up in Italy and my grandma made them for me every Wednesday for lunch. I couldn’t wait to get out of school and have her gnocchi, it was the best. Believe it or not I never make them. I wish she was still alive to make them with her like we used to do when I was little.
    These look fantastic by the way, I like the idea of adding some sweet potato to the mix.

    October 13, 2009 5:09 pm
  • 5
    darah said:

    I’m so excited- my two favorite things to eat all in one dish. Totally celebrating fall with it this weekend!

    October 13, 2009 7:04 pm
  • 6
    darah said:

    I’m so excited- my two favorite things to eat all in one dish. Totally celebrating fall with it this weekend!

    October 13, 2009 7:05 pm
  • 7
    Heather said:

    I’m now emboldened to try my own hand at this tricky art. Just signed up for a Winter CSA, in which the share of potatoes will be substantial, to say the least. I’m also thinking about experimenting with the use of different flours as well. Stay tuned.

    October 14, 2009 9:20 am
  • 8
    Sues said:

    Oooh! I’ve been meaning to try gnocchi for the longest time now. And sweet potato gnocchi is the way to start! Either that or pumpkin :)

    October 14, 2009 9:20 pm
  • 9
    Sues said:

    Oooh! I’ve been meaning to try gnocchi for the longest time now. And sweet potato gnocchi is the way to start! Either that or pumpkin :)

    October 14, 2009 9:21 pm
  • 10

    I ripped out this recipe, too! It makes me so sad just thinking about it. Nevertheless, great way to use the sweet potato and yours look great!

    October 14, 2009 9:37 pm
  • 11

    I ripped out this recipe, too! It makes me so sad just thinking about it. Nevertheless, great way to use the sweet potato and yours look great!

    October 14, 2009 9:38 pm
  • 12

    I ripped out this recipe, too! It makes me so sad just thinking about it. Nevertheless, great way to use the sweet potato and yours look great!

    October 14, 2009 9:39 pm
  • 13
    Jennifer said:

    I made the mistake of reading this at 6:55am. Now I’m drooling and hunger pains have kicked in. Your gnocchi looks amazing, and I could imagine the taste from those gorgeous pictures.

    October 15, 2009 6:55 am
  • 14

    Again brown butter! And fried sage…yum. I love the photo with all the gnocchi on the baking sheet. They look so cute and tasty :)

    October 16, 2009 12:10 am
  • 15

    WOW! I am so afraid to make gnocchi it’s not even funny! Yours looks great!

    October 16, 2009 6:17 pm
  • 16
    S. said:

    I love gnocchi so, so much. My mother used to make them for me all the time when I was a kid, and I remember always looking forward to them. I love the idea of sweet potato :)
    Another awesome flavor is pumpkin and ricotta–sooo unbelieavably good!
    lovely photos :)

    October 17, 2009 3:50 am
  • 17
    S. said:

    I love gnocchi so, so much. My mother used to make them for me all the time when I was a kid, and I remember always looking forward to them. I love the idea of sweet potato :)
    Another awesome flavor is pumpkin and ricotta–sooo unbelieavably good!
    lovely photos :)

    October 17, 2009 3:51 am
  • 18
    Barbara said:

    Well, I love gnocchi but have never made it. I also am crazy about sweet potatoes so I may just have to give this recipe a try. I folded over that particular page in Gourmet and can’t tell you how pleased I am that you made them first and can tell me all about it! with photos! The sage must make them taste very seasonal.

    October 17, 2009 4:47 pm
  • 19
    Barbara said:

    Well, I love gnocchi but have never made it. I also am crazy about sweet potatoes so I may just have to give this recipe a try. I folded over that particular page in Gourmet and can’t tell you how pleased I am that you made them first and can tell me all about it! with photos! The sage must make them taste very seasonal.

    October 17, 2009 4:47 pm
  • 20

    Well, I love gnocchi but have never made it. I also am crazy about sweet potatoes so I may just have to give this recipe a try. I folded over that particular page in Gourmet and can’t tell you how pleased I am that you made them first and can tell me all about it! with photos! The sage must make them taste very seasonal.

    October 17, 2009 4:49 pm
  • 21
    EAT! said:

    Just made my first batch of ricotta gnocchi and will be having it fro dinner tomorrow. I love the sage butter sauce!

    October 23, 2009 3:56 am
  • 22
    deb roby said:

    I have never had gnocchi because I don’t eat white potatoes. I was drawn to a link about these (at Craft). Do you think it would be possible to make gnocchi completely from sweet potatoes or yams?

    November 3, 2009 5:11 pm
  • 23
    Radish said:

    Deb – I don’t think you can omit the potatoes, in fact, these were a wee bit denser than regular gnocchi bc of the sweet potato addition. The reason you need the regular potato as a primary base is because of starch, and it’s also important to use a starchier potato. If you do give it a go and try it with only the sweet potato, I suggest cooking them longer (maybe on lower heat?) to dry the potatoes out the most. Sweet potatoes are mostly water/fiber – not so much starch. But if you do try it, please let me know how it turns out!

    November 4, 2009 4:29 am
  • 24
    NuJoi said:

    Thank you for the detail with photos. I tried a recipe from the Food Network a few years ago and I just couldn’t get it to work. You’ve given me hope!

    December 11, 2009 6:32 am
  • 25
    Jackie said:

    I just recently tried out gnocchi too- sooo delicious. As I was reading your post about using a fork vs. a ricer, I can see how a fork might not be the best option. Luckily I was able to borrow a food mill from a friend, but soon after I saw on Smitten Kitchen that she just used a grater to grate the already-cooked potatoes. Genius! I’m definitely going to try that next time and figured I’d share the tip :)

    December 14, 2009 9:35 pm
  • 26
    Radish said:

    Jackie, thanks! I have tried it with a grater and it’s not as good as the ricer. Not sure what the ricer does, but it makes a difference, at least for me. You want morsels of a certain size and you wan to work quickly, so a grater might take too long perhaps?? I have one and might attempt another version with a ricer, so we’ll see :)

    December 15, 2009 5:10 am
  • 27
    Nicole said:

    I’m always looking for new ways to use sweet potatoes (mostly to convince my husband that he actually likes them). Thanks for the great idea!

    March 7, 2010 10:09 am
  • 28
    NuJoi said:

    I’ve tried sweet potato gnocchi before and failed miserably. You’ve given me new confidence.

    July 18, 2010 7:56 pm
  • 29
    MESSY said:

    So, I don’t have a ricer and the texture of my potato mixture resembled more mashed potatoes than lumpy potatoes. . .do you know what the result will be? Will the gnocchi be too dense? I’m freezing mine, so I haven’t cooked them yet.

    November 27, 2010 9:25 pm
  • 30
    Radish said:

    Messy – you know I haven’t tried it this way, so I don’t know (eek!) but please let us know what happens when you do make them! We’re all curious!!

    November 29, 2010 2:34 pm
  • 31
    Mike said:

    I tried the recipe: delicious! Thank you for posting it. Have you ever tried the one with ricotta cheese instead of the egg?
    Anyway, I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes, I recently write an article on their health benefits, check it out: http://www.theironyou.com/2011/04/sweet-potato-hollywoods-stars-favorite.html
    Peace
    Mike @TheIronYou

    July 5, 2011 10:33 am

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