These little gnocchi pillows are dressed up with a dusting of warm spices and plenty of the festive spirit I cherish during the holiday season. They’re an ode to my mom’s signature sweet potato casserole, filled with butter and piled high with marshmallows, which she drives across three states every year to proudly display on our family’s Thanksgiving table. They’re also inspired by gnocchi di zucca, an Italian staple that celebrates autumn’s bounty, particularly the deliciously sweet, vibrant orange Mantua pumpkin from the north.
If you’ve come across my recipe for mushroom-stuffed potato gnocchi, you’ll know gnocchi and I have had a bit of a love-hate relationship. But now, after significant trial and error, and with a few tips and tricks in hand, I can’t get enough gnocchi in my life—not to mention they’re one of the quickest fresh pastas to assemble. Better yet, gnocchi freeze incredibly well, and if you’re inclined to include this dish on your Thanksgiving menu, I highly recommend making them in advance so all that’s left to do is toss them in boiling water and slather them in butter (see instructions below). Oh, and if you happen to have some leftover Thanksgiving roasted sweet potatoes or winter squash, just puree them in a food processor and skip to Step 4—you’ll have a cozy bowl of gnocchi in no time. —Meryl Feinstein, Pasta Social Club
Test Kitchen Notes
This dish is part of Residentsgiving—aka the Thanksgiving menu of our wildest dreams—created by Food52's resident experts-slash-superheroes. Devour the rest of the spread here and while you're at it, learn how to Remix & Remaster your Thanksgiving. —The Editors
- Prep time 2 hours
- Cook time 1 hour 45 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
large or 3 medium (about 2½ pounds total) sweet potatoes
large (about 1 pound) russet potato
(1¾ ounces) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons
ground nutmeg (ideally freshly grated)
300 to 350 grams
(2½ to 3 cups) type ‘00’ or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- Sauce and Assembly
(about ½ cup) hazelnuts, very coarsely chopped
(¾ cup) unsalted butter
8 to 10
Freshly ground black pepper
Finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving
- Prepare the potatoes: Heat the oven to 400°F. Scrub the sweet and russet potatoes and prick all over with a fork. Arrange on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until the skins are crisp and the potatoes are fork-tender.
- Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh of the sweet potatoes and either mash with a fork or purée in a food processor. If the purée looks loose and watery, transfer to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until thickened and most of the water has evaporated. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh out 450 grams of the purée. Spread on a paper towel-lined sheet pan and let cool completely.
- Pass the russet potato through a ricer or mash with a fork (if the latter, remove any large undercooked pieces; don’t use a food processor here, as it can make the texture gummy). Spread on the same paper towel-lined sheet pan to cool (separated from the sweet potatoes). Pat dry with more paper towels and, if you have a kitchen scale, weigh out 200 grams (about ¾ cup—if you only have a little potato left, use it all.)
- Make the dough: Transfer the sweet potatoes to a medium bowl. Add the cheese, egg, egg yolk, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and stir until smooth and well combined.
- Pour the flour into a large bowl. With your fist, make a large hole or “well” in the center. Add half of the sweet potato mixture and half of the mashed russet potato to the well. Using your hands, bring some of the flour from the sides of the bowl into the center and gently press into the potato mixture. Add the remaining sweet potato mixture and mashed russet potato on top, then press the remaining flour from the outside of the bowl into the potato mixture from all directions until everything comes together into a rough mass.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead briefly for 1 to 2 minutes, until evenly incorporated. If the dough is unbearably sticky (some stickiness is normal), dust the surface with a bit more flour. You’re not looking for a very smooth dough, so don’t worry if it looks ragged around the edges. Form the dough into a disc and move it to the side of your work surface.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly dust with flour. Fill a small bowl with flour and place it near the work surface. Clear any sticky pieces from the work surface and dust with fresh flour. Sprinkle the surface of the dough with a little flour, too.
- Using a rolling pin, gently flatten and roll the dough into a square about ½ inch thick. Slice the square into ½- or 1-inch strips (dust your knife or bench scraper in some flour if it’s sticking to the dough).
- Dust each dough strip in a little more flour, then gently roll back and forth until it becomes a smooth log. Cut the log into 1-inch pieces. Arrange the pieces on the prepared sheet plan and repeat with the remaining dough.
- Do Ahead: The gnocchi can be made 3 months ahead. Boil the gnocchi according to directions below, then transfer to a clean, dry dish towel and allow to air-dry. Arrange the gnocchi on a parchment-lined sheet pan in a single layer and freeze uncovered until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer the gnocchi to a freezer-safe bag and return to the freezer. When you’re ready to cook them, boil them in generously salted water until they float again, then pan fry or toss directly in the butter sauce.
- Sauce and Assembly
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil; generously season with salt.
- In a large sauté pan or skillet, cook the hazelnuts over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until fragrant and toasted around the edges. Add the butter, sage, and a pinch of salt. Cook, shaking the pan frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the butter begins to brown and the sage crisps up. Season with salt, if needed. Remove from the heat and set aside. Transfer the sage leaves to a paper-towel-lined plate.
- Carefully drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and stir to prevent sticking (don’t overcrowd the pot—if your pot is smaller than 8 quarts, boil in two batches). Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the gnocchi float to the surface.
- To pan fry (optional, but recommended): While the gnocchi are boiling, coat a large nonstick pan in olive oil and heat over medium-high. Drain the gnocchi and transfer to a plate. Add half to the hot oil and fry in a single layer, tossing occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Add to the butter sauce. Repeat with the second batch. Return the butter sauce to medium heat and toss to coat (skip to Step 6).
- Return the sauce to medium heat. Transfer the gnocchi directly to the sauce with a spider or slotted spoon and toss to coat. Cook, tossing frequently, for 2 minutes more, until the gnocchi start to crisp slightly.
- Serve the gnocchi on a platter or divide among bowls. Top with the fried sage and remaining butter sauce, along with a dusting of black pepper and Parmigiano Reggiano.