Master of the gnocchi

Thank you Aida Mollenkamp.  Thank you for combining two of my favorite things, gnocchi and sweet potato.  Thank you for writing a recipe that would finally enable me to make a dish that I have never been able to successfully make. NEVER.  Unless you consider pellets of flour and potato so über dense they had their own gravity wells a “success”.  Ok, some astrophysicists might, but this is cooking and not, well…astrophysics.

The 3 lb bag of sweet potatoes that didn’t get used at Thanksgiving was sitting on the table taunting me all week.  It said, “make gnocchi.”  I ignored the garnet taunts, not allowing them to set me up for failure again.  Ultimately though I gave in and this is what happened:

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Balsamic-Sage Brown Butter








Once this eventually ended up on my plate (it was a late dinner), was I ever glad I am weak willed.  Light, fluffy, savory, sweet, nutty, brown butter, sagey, sweet potato gnocchi goodness.  I had conquered the gnocchi!! I had not altered the gravitational constant of the universe by creating the über-dense dumplings that had been my demise!  You will note, there is only a picture of the outcome and none of the process.  I had become so accustomed to thinking that any gnocchi I made would turn out awful that I didn’t take pictures of the “during”.  That and my hands were covered in flour.  They came out and I have a second batch, ready to cook up in the freezer at a moments notice.  And I have Aida Mollenkamp and her recipe to thank for it.  Thank you Aida!

  • Makes: 8 to 10 servings (about 150 pieces)
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Hands-On Time: 10 minutes


  • For the gnocchi:
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (yams), halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 pound Russet potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups all purpose or white whole wheat flour
  • For the sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 to 15 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 shallots, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly shaved parmesan, for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish


  • For the gnocchi:


 Heat an oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil, season with a few good pinches of salt and a few cranks of pepper, place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut-side down, and roast until fork tender, about 30 minutes.

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) and stir in cheese, egg, honey, and sat. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms. Taste and add additional salt, as needed. You’ve added flour when you touch the back of the dough and it is damp but not sticking to you hand.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and shape into a square. Divide into 16 equal 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 if sticky. 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.

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 or spider, transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Reserve 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water and drain the rest.

 For the sauce:

This is enough sauce for half of the gnocchi. If you want to cook off all the gnocchi, go ahead and double the recipe. Just a note that I’d recommend you make this sauce through twice as doing twice this amount in one pan would be unwieldy.

Meanwhile, in a large frying 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 frying pan to stove. Add shallot and, watching it carefully and stirring often, allow the milk solids begin to brown and the butter becomes fragrant and nutty. Scrape along the bottom to prevent the solids from sticking and burning.

When the butter is brown, immediately remove from heat, and carefully stir in the vinegar (it may sting your eyes). Stir in pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, return to heat, and cook until just coated in the sauce. Add a lot of freshly ground black pepper, taste for seasoning and finish with additional pasta water, salt, black pepper, the crisp sage, and freshly shaved parmesan.



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