Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage and Pecans

Sweet potatoes are readily available during the cooler months and are a delicious accompaniment to all sorts of dishes. Sweet potatoes are low in calories and contain no saturated fats or cholesterol. They are a rich source of dietary fiber. They are also an excellent source of the powerful natural antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin A. Vitamin A is also required by the body to maintain the integrity of healthy mucus membranes and skin and is a vital nutrient for vision. These amazing tubers are jam-packed with essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and thiamin (vitamin B-1), niacin, and riboflavin as well as gracious amounts of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium that are essential for metabolism.

We always seem to have sweet potato leftovers. Perhaps we subconsciously make extras as an excuse to make gnocchi (or pie!) This recipe has it ALL: sweet, savory, cheesy... (need we say more?) The wonderful flavors and textures of this dish will make you a sweet potato enthusiast too. 

Gnocchi Dough:
2 cups sweet potatoes, mashed
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Sauce & Serving:
  • 20 large fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup pecans (or walnuts), chopped
  • Grated Parmesan for serving

If you are not using leftover sweet potatoes, first you must cook some sweet potatoes. We normally have leftovers so this step is not usually part of the recipe for us. The microwave works wonderfully for the potatoes in this recipe. Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and then microwave until cooked all the way through. In our microwave, this takes about 20 minutes on high. In our microwave, this takes about 20 minutes on high. They are done when a knife inserted into the center goes through with little resistance. Alternatively, you can bake them in a 450°F oven for 40 minutes.

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skins and place in a mixing bowl. Mash the potatoes until smooth, and then add egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and about 1 1/2 cups wheat flour. All-purpose flour works just fine as a substitute if wheat flour is not available. Mix with a spoon and then kneed until a soft dough forms. Then gradually add additional flour until the dough is not sticky.  Depending on the moisture level of your potatoes and egg, you may have to add a fair amount more flour to get the dough to a workable condition. If it’s too sticky to roll out, add more flour. Don’t overcompensate though; the dough should be soft – not dense.

Now for the fun part! Divide the dough into four parts, and using your hands, roll out each piece into a very long, skinny roll (our boys call them “snakes.”) Then cut off small parts of the dough to form little pillows. Each “snake” makes about 20 gnocchi. If you want them to look fancy, you can use a fork to make indentations on the top of each piece. Place the gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and working in batches, boil gnocchi for 3-5 minutes until tender. The gnocchi will float on the surface when done. Don’t over- boil or they turn to a gluey mush!

While there are lots of sauces that go well with gnocchi, the simplest is the best. In a large saucepan, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add chopped sage and a bit of kosher salt and heat for about a minute before adding gnocchi to the pan. Transfer gnocchi from the boiling pot with a slotted spoon directly into the pan with the sage-infused olive oil. Toss gnocchi to coat well and cook for several minutes until slightly browned. Cook remaining gnocchi in the same fashion, transferring to the pan once boiled.

Serve immediately, topped with chopped pecans (or walnuts), freshly grated Parmesan, and a bit of fresh ground pepper.

Note: Any uncooked gnocchi can be frozen for up to 1 month. We freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then store them in a freezer bag. Do not thaw before cooking; simply boil them right out of the freezer so that they thaw as they cook.