Sweet Potato Gnocchi



I rarely, if ever, order gnocchi out because I’m almost always disappointed. Once you have a really great plate of gnocchi, you’ll never be able to tolerate anything less. More often than not, they’re dense, gummy and feel like rocks in your stomach. Really good gnocchi should be light as air, melt on your tongue and always leave you wanting more. 

Traditional potato gnocchi is tough to master, but sweet potato gnocchi is much easier to pull off. Since sweet potatoes don’t get gluey after being worked like regular potatoes can, they’re much more forgiving and result in a smoother, more tender dough.

I discovered this recipe / method on a little Italian blog called Ilaria’s Perfect Recipes, and it’s damn near perfect. I’ve adjusted the ratios ever so slightly and made the directions easier to follow, but I owe all the credit to her. These gnocchi are everything I want them to be – light, pillowy, silky and flavorful. 




HOW DO YOU MAKE SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI?

The process is really simple – cook and mash sweet potatoes, mix in lots of grated cheese, a bit of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour. Mix the dough until it forms a shaggy mass, then knead it a few times until it forms a cohesive dough. Be careful not to knead it like crazy, as the gluten in the flour will get tough with excessive work (but not if using gluten free fl0ur – see the full recipe and more details below).

Cut off a small piece of dough and roll it into a long, thin snake, then use a knife or pastry cutter to snip off little pieces. You can make these as large or as small as you like, but I prefer them on the smaller side. It takes a bit more time and work, but I think the finished texture is more pleasing. 

Place the gnocchi on a sheet pan that’s been lined with parchment and dusted with flour. From here they can be cooked – they only take a few minutes to boil – or placed into the freezer. Once frozen solid, transfer them to a zip-top bag and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Then they can be cooked directly from the freezer – no defrosting needed.



HOW DO YOU MAKE THEM GLUTEN FREE?

I’ve made this recipe with all purpose wheat flour and it’s wonderful, but recently I started making it with Cup4Cup gluten free flour and the results are amazing. You’d never know you’re eating something gluten free.

If using gluten free flour, you can actually work the dough a bit more than if you were using all purpose flour. That’s because gluten free flour won’t seize up and get tough like wheat flour does when the gluten gets overworked. Making this recipe gluten free actually makes it EASIER and more FOOLPROOF than making it with wheat flour. 



HOW DO YOU COOK THE GNOCCHI?

To cook, simply boil a pot of salted water, then drop the gnocchi in fresh right after making or straight from the freezer. Give them a stir, then let them cook at a rolling boil until they float to the surface. Drain – but save the cooking liquid! – and add them directly to a simmering sauce along with a little bit of the cooking water to help thicken it up.

My go-to is brown butter, some type of herb and some type of nut. I love sage and toasted walnuts or rosemary and hazelnuts, which is what you see in the photos. Another great way to enjoy these is with a cream sauce. Maybe a cheesy cream sauce. Maybe baked in a cheese sauce. A blue cheese sauce? With walnuts! There are so many different ways to make these… the only sauce I don’t recommend is tomato.

IS SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI HARD TO MAKE?

No! But it does take a bit of time. As long as you plan ahead and enjoy the process, you’ll have no problems at all. This recipe is very forgiving, especially if you use gluten free flour. Rolling and cutting the dough can be a really fun process that’s great for doing with kids, friends or as a couple. 

Any homemade pasta or gnocchi is going to be a time consuming process no matter which way you cut it. But what makes this recipe so brilliant is that the gnocchi freeze beautifully. I like to make these whenever I have some free time so that I always have them stocked in my freezer. Then, when I just want to eat something warm, comforting and satisfying, all I have to do is boil water, make a quick sauce, and in about 10 minutes I have a homemade restaurant quality meal. 


Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Yield: 6 Servings

prep time: 1 hour

cook time: 45 minutes

total time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs fresh, whole sweet potatoes or yams
  • 1 1/3 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese (such as Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour or an all-purpose gluten free blend (recommended: Cup4Cup), plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and bake until fork tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on size. Alternatively, you can peel and dice the sweet potatoes, then microwave them until tender.
  • Let the sweet potatoes cool until they’re able to be handled, then remove the peels and place the flesh in a large mixing bowl. Use a fork, a potato masher or immersion blender to mash the sweet potatoes until smooth.
  • Add parmesan cheese, 1 1/4 cups flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt, then mix until it forms a shaggy dough. If the dough seems wet, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it’s no longer excessively sticky. The goal is to add as little flour as possible.
  • Scrape the mixture out on to a floured surface and gently knead it until it forms a ball. Do not overknead the dough as it will cause it to become tough. If using gluten free flour, you don’t have to be as concerned with over kneading. 
  • Cut off a small piece of dough and roll it out into a long, thin snake. Cut into small pieces about the size of dime, then transfer to a sheet pan that’s been covered in parchment paper and dusted with flour.
  • Repeat until all the dough is used up.
  • Cook immediately or place the sheet pans into the freezer to save for a later date. Once the gnocchi are frozen on the sheet pan they can be transferred to a zip-top bag and stored for up to 6 months in the freezer.
  • To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of generously salted water up to a boil. Add gnocchi, stir, then cook until they float to the top – about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, add them to a sauce and serve immediately. *