I love gnocchi. Loooove them. I want to gorge on their pillowy deliciousness until I fall into a deep starchy slumber, and then I will snuggle up like a cat in my bed of potato cushions, and when I wake up I will eat my pillow for breakfast and be thrilled to live in a world where there is such goodness.
Ahem. As I was saying. Love gnocchi. Also, love sweet potatoes. Ergo, I had no choice but to make this recipe, which turned out to be worth each one of its bazillion steps. I added a green vegetable by making brown-butter spinach, and I would like to emphasize that I only added the butter to help me absorb the nutrients in the spinach.
It is testament to the autumnal pull of the sweet potatoes that these jumped a few hundred recipes in front of ricotta gnocchi (aka “gnudi”—naked ravioli, which I find totally charming), which I’ve been wanting to try for years but have yet to get around to. If you are near The Spotted Pig in New York, or any other restaurant that serves ricotta gnocchi, order them. You won’t be sorry. While they were all over New York, I have yet to find them in DC, and I miss them terribly.
A note on potato ricers: I generally try to avoid recipes that require special gadgets. But I scoped out the interwebs, and the blog consensus seemed to be that a potato ricer helped guarantee fluffy, tender gnocchi, so I decided that my feelings for gnocchi merited a quick trip to Bed Bath and Beyond for an $8 gadget. If you don’t have one, though, people seemed to recommend pushing the potatoes through a colander. I’d also like to observe that potato ricers are extremely fun to use—like giant garlic presses!—even if, like me, you end up with potato strands in your hair.
Sweet potato gnocchi with spinach and fried sage
From Gourmet (RIP)
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 parmesan, 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
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 oz. baby spinach
Making the gnocchi
Preheat oven to 450° with rack in middle.
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. Cool potatoes slightly, then peel and force through ricer into sheet pan, spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely. [Note: I did this the night before making the gnocchi, and it worked fine.]
Lightly flour 2 or 3 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl. Gather potatoes into a mound in sheet pan, using a pastry scraper if you have one, and form a well in center. 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.
Cut dough into 6 pieces. With each piece, form 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. 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.
Fried sage leaves: 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.
Spinach with brown butter: Heat 2 tablespoons of butter, with a pinch of salt, and cook until golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Add spinach and cook, tossing, until spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Brown butter sauce for gnocchi: Add 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 tsp salt to pan where you fried the sage. Cook until golden brown, 1-2 minutes, and remove from heat.
Cooking the gnocchi
Add half of gnocchi to a pasta pot of well-salted boiling water and stir. Cook until they float to the surface, about 3 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to skillet with butter sauce. Cook remaining gnocchi in same manner. Heat gnocchi in sauce over medium heat, stirring to coat.
Serve on bed of brown-butter spinach and sprinkled with fried sage and grated parmesan. Serves 6.