Scrumptious homemade sweet potato gnocchi in a lovely browned butter-balsamic sauce that has a bit of kick from chilli and sweetness from mushrooms.
I’ve been bothering my friends a lot about my gnocchi craving. I haven’t been able to eat anything to satisfy it! I’m not quite sure which local Italian restaurant serves good gnocchi around here, but writing my New York Travel Diaries has made me regret so much that I didn’t stop to eat at Little Italy. To rectify that, I set out to make some homemade sweet potato gnocchi.
There’s no particular reason why I chose sweet potatoes over regular potatoes, but I did feel that it would give my gnocchi a lot of colour. Since it was my first try, I decided to go with a simple sauce rather than something that was a bit more complicated.
But still I was nervous. Not about the sauce, but mostly about the gnocchi-making part. I remember eating some at a restaurant before and they were like rubber! Obviously that’s what I’m trying to avoid here. 🙂
Gnocchi kind of requires some work. Not so much that it’s back-breaking like croissant-making, but it does take a longer time. My pessimistic side was already imagining myself feeling wretched when after hours of prepping this recipe it just ends up a big fat fail. So to ready myself, I watched a lot of videos on YouTube. That always helps.
It seemed simple enough. It even looked like fun. Most importantly, it looked like a worthwhile endeavour.
And now, as I’m writing this post, all I can say is: I want to make gnocchi again. Again and again and again, in fact. I’d freeze them and just thaw them for when a craving hits, and I’d be one of the happiest gals you’d ever meet.
This was a surprisingly easy gnocchi recipe. Born out of a sweet potato-ricotta cheese-parmesan mixture. I mean, how could such a mix of ingredients not end well?! Thankfully, it turned out beautifully.
I was initially nervous about the possible texture of my gnocchi, so I was very careful about the amount of my flour. After the first 2 cups, I followed up with 1/2 cup more and this proved to be just the right amount.
It’s better to leave it a bit wet rather than too dry. The dough will absorb a bit more flour from the work surface as you go anyway. You want the dough to still be sticky but manageable so the resulting gnocchi, once cooked, will be nice and chewy. They will be soft inside and not at all like rubber!
I really enjoyed the process of shaping these babies. After rolling the dough into logs and then cutting them into sizes just as wide a fork, I proceeded to try out some of the tricks I saw from videos online.
Basically you take one piece of dough and push down into the middle with your thumb until you have an indentation, and then you hold it against the fork and kind of pull the upper portion downwards with your index finger.
You’ve now created a little “fold” where the sauce can seep in. On the other side, the tines of the fork create ridges on the top portion of the gnocchi. This also really helps the sauce coat the cooked pasta.
Cooking these is fun as well. You bring a pot of water to a boil and just drop the gnocchi in by batches, and then wait for them to float up. That’s how you know they’re ready to come out of the water!
My gnocchi may not be the best in terms of shape and uniformity, but it’s downright impossible for me not to feel proud about the result. I was so excited to finish cooking this dish!
For the mushroom-brown butter sauce, I took a lot of liberties adapting the source recipe. I used darkly-coloured clamshell mushrooms and watched the butter carefully to see if it has browned sufficiently before adding the garlic and the seasonings.
I subbed 1/4 teaspoons each dried herbs for the fresh and once the balsamic wrapped around everything the sauce looked and smelled amazing.
As I was putting my cooked gnocchi into the wok with the mushrooms and sauce, I swear I was already salivating over this. I just knew in my bones that this was going to be uh-mazing!
A dash more of salt and pepper, a bit of Feta Cheese, plus a sprinkling of chilli flakes on top of the pasta really helped to round out this dish. It was so delightful! The gnocchi had this lovely bite to it, and some of the pieces became a bit crunchy on the outside but still chewy on the inside. I loved it!
Making gnocchi is definitely easier than I thought. I trusted my instincts when it came to the dough and the result was a soft and delicious gnocchi with a bit of crunch and so much flavour from the sauce. I am officially in love with gnocchi. Can’t wait to make more using other sauces!
Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Brown Butter-Balsamic Mushroom Sauce
For the gnocchi
- 1 cup of mashed sweet potato
- 1 cup whole-milk pureed ricotta
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup fresh parmesan, grated
- 2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
For the Brown Butter Balsamic Mushroom Sauce
- 650 grams brown clamshell or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced to desired size
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoons dried, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, or 1/4 teaspoons dried, chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for topping
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Make the gnocchi
- 1. In a large bowl, mix together mashed sweet potato, ricotta, eggs, salt, and parmesan. Use a wooden spoon or your hands.
- 2. Add in 2 cups of the flour. Using your hands, mix flour into the sweet potato mix until fully incorporated. The dough should be very sticky. Add another half cup of flour and mix until you get dough that can hold its own shape and is rollable, but is still quite sticky. If it's still too soft to handle, keep adding a little flour at a time until you get the desired texture. (I only needed half a cup more aside from the initial 2 cups. Don’t add too much flour or the gnocchi will become tough once cooked. Remember that you’ll be rolling these on a floured surface so some of that flour will still go into the dough.)
- 3. Form dough into a ball or a thick log and cut into four equal pieces. Take one piece and cut in half again. Working with one half of the dough first, gather the rest of the unused dough together and cover with a clean dry towel to prevent drying.
- 4. Roll out the first portion of dough into a long log about 1/2-inch thick. Cut the long log into pieces about the width of a fork. Dust the gnocchi with a little flour, then use one finger to push the gnocchi up onto the tines of a fork to create ridges. (Making the ridges is optional but it helps the sauce to stick to the gnocchi more.)
- 5. Place gnocchi in a large baking sheet and cover while working on the rest of the dough, one portion at a time, until all the dough has been used up.
- 6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once water is boiling, carefully drop in prepared gnocchi using a slotted spoon, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. The uncooked gnocchi will sink to the bottom, but once they float up to the surface that means they’re ready. Take them out using a slotted spoon before adding the next batch. Repeat until all gnocchi pieces have been boiled. Set aside while you prepare the sauce.
Make the Brown Butter-Balsamic Mushroom Sauce
- 7. In a medium skillet (or wok) over high heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Once melted, add in the mushrooms, trying to line them in a single layer. Let cook without stirring until they sizzle and begin to caramelize or darken on the bottom, about 2 minutes.
- 8. Toss mushrooms a little and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue to cook without stirring for about 5 more minutes. Add the remaining butter and cook until it begins to brown.
- 9. Once the butter is browned, reduce heat to medium and add garlic, thyme, rosemary, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook briefly, about 10 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar. Stir a little and let simmer until the mushrooms are glazed with the balsamic.
- 10. Slide the mushrooms off to the side. Add the boiled gnocchi and allow to cook, preferably until crisp, on one side for 2 minutes. Flip and let cook another 2 minutes on the other side. Now stir the gnocchi into the mushrooms to mix everything together.
- 13. Remove from heat and serve immediately with crumbled feta cheese and more crushed pepper flakes on top.
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