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Swap sweet potatoes for standard in buttery gnocchi

Sweet potatoes got the star treatment in this week’s food section.

The tubers have found more favor in recent years among diets that discourage the starches in regular potatoes, rice and pasta. The option for sweet potato fries on a growing number of restaurant menus confirms their status as mainstream.

Taking the potato swap a step farther is this recipe for sweet potato gnocchi, a more nutrient dense option to dumplings made with regular potatoes. Consider using 00 flour, an Italian-milled flour made for pasta making, available online and at specialty retailers.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

2 medium sweet potatoes

2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2/3 cup whole-milk ricotta

1 large egg, whisked

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

10 to 12 large sage leaves

4 cups baby spinach

1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more as needed

1/3 cup unsalted, dry-roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Black pepper, as needed

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a small baking sheet with foil and a layer of coarse salt. (Salt will draw out additional water.) Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork several times and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until potatoes are soft and tender. Slice potatoes in half and let them cool, then mash or rice flesh and discard skins.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add mashed sweet potatoes, the ricotta and egg and mix until a dough forms. You may need to use your hands.

Transfer dough to a generously floured work surface and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope, about 3/4-inch thick. Cut each rope into bite-size pieces and either roll on a gnocchi board or on tines of a fork to create ridges. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Once butter begins to bubble, for 1 to 2 minutes, add the sage leaves and fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until crispy, lowering heat if butter starts to get too brown. Remove from pan.

Whisk continuously until butter develops a nutty aroma and brown bits on bottom, for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Pour all brown butter into a small bowl except for 1 tablespoon.

Heat reserved tablespoon brown butter in same pan over medium heat. Add the spinach and saute for 1 minute, until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Add gnocchi to boiling water and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until they float to the top. Drain and immediately add them to pot with spinach and pour in remaining brown butter. Toss to coat, then add the Parmesan and hazelnuts, if using. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

Serve with fried sage leaves and extra Parmesan on top.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

— Recipe from “Eat More Plants” by Molly Krebs (Page Street, August 2019, $22).

Tribune News Service photo