Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Gnocchi might be one of the ultimate comfort foods. It’s filling, rich, starchy, and takes a bit of effort, like good comfort food should. I don’t make gnocchi often but I’m not sure why- it only took a little over an hour from start to finish. I made some changes from my last recipe, making the dumplings a little bigger and putting blue cheese on top instead of sharp cheese in the dough. It was an excuse to try the Saga blue brie I have been eyeing at the grocery store for a while now, and it was delicious with the sweet potato and aromatic sage.

The packaged version is but a pale reflection of the real, homemade dish. Homemade gnocchi is also much more economical, especially if you’re feeding a crowd. I made almost four pounds of gnocchi for less than the price of one 8oz. package of refrigerated gnocchi at the grocery store.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage and Blue Cheese

If you’ve never made homemade pasta, try gnocchi first- it’s much more forgiving.

4 medium sweet potatoes, boiled or steamed until absolutely tender
4 c all-purpose flour, plus another cup for dusting and rolling
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 bunch of fresh sage, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
1 stick of butter
4 oz any good blue cheese

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Place a drying rack over a cookie sheet or sheet pan over the sink. Peel the sweet potatoes. Mash the sweet potatoes with a fork, or if you want them absolutely smooth, puree them in a food processor with the eggs.

Add the sweet potato mash, eggs, and 3 cups of the flour to a large bowl. Combine them quickly using your fingers until it forms a wet dough. Add flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough is just firm enough to pick up in a ball. The amount of flour will depend on how much moisture is in your sweet potatoes, you want to use as little flour as possible.

Dump another cup of flour on the countertop. Put the dough in the middle and give it a few quick folds, kneading just enough for the dough to not stick to the counter. Divide the dough into four pieces. Roll, pull, and gently stretch each piece into a long “rope” about 1 1/2″ to 2″ thick. Cut each rope into 1/2″ pieces. If you want to do the fancy gnocchi shaping, there are great instructions here.

By now the water should be at a full, rolling boil. Add 1 full tablespoon of salt to the water. Gently put a dozen or so pieces in the water. Wait 30 seconds and give them one gentle stir to make sure none stick to the bottom. Then let them boil until they float to the top and stay there. Gently lift them out and put them on the rack to dry. Repeat until all of the gnocchi are cooked, making sure the water stays at a boil the whole time.

If you’ve done this before, you can start boiling the gnocchi after cutting up the first “rope”, and cut the next rope while the last is cooking.  This saves an incredible amount of time. If you can get help to boil the gnocchi while you cut them, this will save even more time. Kids love this job.

Once half the gnocchi are cooked, heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add half of the butter. When the foam subsides, add half of the sage and cook, stirring constantly, until the foam subsides again. Then add the first half of the gnocchi. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the dumplings are lightly golden and slightly crispy. Remove from the pan into a serving bowl and repeat with the other half. Taste for salt and pepper. I served the cheese on the side because not all of my kids like blue cheese (and there’s no point wasting expensive cheese on unappreciative kids) but you can also slice the cheese into small pieces and toss it with the hot gnocchi in the serving bowl.

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