Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Balsamic-Sage Brown Butter
In a creative risk-taking mode, I came up with the perfect usage for the hardy sweet potatoes sitting on the kitchen counter. I've never attempted to make gnocchi, but sensed it was the perfect time. Not that weather plays a role in 'menu planning', but the cold, windy Fall breeze sent me a clear vibe to attempt to make a 'Fall-like gnocchi'. I decided the gnocchi had to combine my sweet potatoes and the sage I had on hand. The more my recipe creation came together, the more my mouth started to water. I envisioned a fragrant burst of flavor from the sweet potato topped with a buttery sage sauce. I was cooking out of my comfort zone and was enjoying every minute! The final outcome was divine and worth all the effort I invested into this Latin meal.
The savory tastes brought me back to our favorite little Italian restaurants tucked away in the small hidden alleyways of Zurich. I craved wholesome goodness of Italian cooking with a glass of red wine and feel this recipe achieved the true ethnic experience. I presented the gnocchi on a bed of arugula, drizzled the sauce over the gnocchi and garnished with shaved pieces of pecorino and a sage leaf. It was gorgeous, seasonal and appreciated by all!
2 pounds sweet potatoes, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
black pepper, salt, freshly ground
¼ cup pecorino cheese, finely grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
2½ cups unbleached white flour
4 tablespoons butter
12-15 fresh sage leaves
2 shallots, quartered and thinly sliced
¼ cup walnuts, crushed
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
freshly shaved parmesan or pecorino, for garnish
freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
To Make Gnocchi:
1. Heat oven to 425°F. Cut potatoes lengthwise and drizzle with olive oil and season with a few pinches of salt and ground pepper. Place potatoes cut-side down on a sheet of aluminum on a baking tray. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes.
2. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Scoop flesh out of skins then pass flesh through a potato ricer or mash with back of a fork. Stir in cheese, egg, honey, and salt. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms. Flour should be damp but not sticky.
3. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Divide dough into small workable pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into a rope (about 1/2 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed. However, don’t add too much additional flour as too much will make for heavy gnocchi. Cut each rope into 1/2 -inch pieces. Stop here or, as desired, use your thumb, roll each piece down over tines of a fork to indent. (Gnocchi can be prepared 4 hours ahead and remain at room temperature before simmering.) At this point, the extra gnocchi not being used, can be placed in an airtight container and frozen up to one month.
4. Bring large pot of heavily salted water to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, simmer gnocchi until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi serving bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water for the sauce.
To Make Sauce:
1. The sauce quantity is for half of the gnocchi. If you cook all the gnocchi, then double the sauce recipe.
2. In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it foams, add sage and cook until crisp and fragrant. Remove sage to a plate and return sauce pan to stove. Add shallots and walnuts stirring often and cook until butter turns brown and becomes fragrant and nutty. Scrape along the bottom to prevent the sauce from sticking and burning.
3. Remove butter from heat after it turns brown, and carefully stir in the balsamic. Stir in gnocchi and 1/2 cup of the reserved gnocchi water, return to heat and cook until just coated in the sauce. Add freshly ground black pepper and finish with additional gnocchi water(if necessary), the crisp sage, and freshly shaved parmesan or pecorino.
I prefer to serve Gnocchi on top of a bed of arugula, drizzle a spoon of sauce over the gnocchi, garnish with sage leaves, pecorino and black pepper!