Eat these pillowy clouds of sweet potato and ricotta fried in browned butter and sage on their own for dinner, or as a side dish with steak and steamed greens. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and delicious all the way through.
Because I was very well behaved last year (those of you who think you know otherwise can feel free to stay out of the comments section), Santa very generously bought me a cookbook that’s been on my wishlist for a while: Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings. You might expect a recipe book written by a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model to be full of kale chips and zoodles, but this is a woman who knows what I want to eat (kale chips never, zoodles occasionally and pasta all the time). The book is full of mouthwatering recipes from soul food classics like fried chicken and mac & cheese to dishes influenced by her Thai heritage like drunken noodles and Thai chilli sauce.
I’ve made gnocchi a handful of times before, and loved the sound of Chrissy’s version made with a combination of ricotta and sweet potato. Ricotta based gnocchi tends to be more forgiving than a purely starch based one, so this is a great recipe for a first time gnocchi maker. The simple accompaniment of browned butter, sage and parmesan makes for a simple, elegant, tasty dish, but as I was eating I imagined that a version smothered in a tomato mascarpone sauce and topped with golden bubbling mozzarella would also be quite spectacular. That naughty little voice strikes again.
The recipe below has been adapted slightly from Chrissy’s original to honour my commitment to the metric system and because I wanted to use up all the sweet potatoes I had – which was more than her recipe required. I also like my gnocchi to spend a little extra time frying in the browned butter so the outside gets all crisp and delicious.
Gnocchi can be an intimidating dish if you’ve never made it before, and to be honest it is easy to mess up and create dense gluey chunks of pasta – BUT it is easy to avoid this outcome with the simple tips below.
- The secret to light, fluffy gnocchi is not to overwork the dough when kneading.
- Dust your hands and workspace with plenty of flour to make it much easier to work with the dough when rolling it into lengths.
- Uncooked gnocchi keep well in the freezer. Freeze first in a single layer on a tray before transferring to a plastic bag or container. Add to boiling water from frozen and add 1-2 mins to the cooking time.
- 600 g sweet potato cooked, mashed & cooled (approx 3 large potatoes)
- 150 g ricotta cheese
- 1/2 t freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 t flaky sea salt
- 250 g plain flour (plus more for kneading)
- 50 g butter
- 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves roughly torn
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Flaky sea salt & cracked pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, ricotta, salt and pepper and mix well. Gently fold in the flour and mix until a loose dough is formed.
Turn the mixture out onto a well floured surface and gently knead the dough roughly 10 times - adding more flour a tablespoon at a time if it is too wet to work with.
Flour the work surface again, divide the dough into four parts and roll each one out into a log approx. 2.5cm thick. Slice the logs into individual gnocchi with a floured knife - you should get 16 pieces from each log.
Set the gnocchi aside on a floured surface, and bring a large pot of well salted water to the boil. While waiting for water to boil, put an oven safe dish in the oven on the lowest possible heat - you will use this later to keep the cooked gnocchi warm.
Once boiling, add half the gnocchi to the water. When they float to the surface (4-5mins) remove and drain, but DO NOT RINSE. That starchy coating will crisp up in the hot butter and become the best part of the gnocchi.
While the gnocchi are in the water, melt half the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When it begins to brown, add half the sage leaves and tip in the drained gnocchi.
Toss to coat in butter, and arrange gnocchi into a single layer. Continue to cook on medium heat until underside is golden brown, then turn each piece over and cook until evenly golden on the other side.
Tip contents of the pan into the pre-warmed dish, cover, then repeat the boiling and frying process with the second half of the gnocchi.
Divide between 4 bowls, season with salt, pepper and plenty of grated parmesan. Serve with a wedge of lemon and extra butter-fried sage.
Adapted from Sweet Potato Gnocchi recipe in Cravings by Chrissy Teigen.