Spiced Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Sage & Hazelnuts

October 28, 2021
8 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Molly Fitzsimons.
  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • Gnocchi
  • 3 large (2½ pounds total) sweet potatoes
  • 1 large (about 1 pound) russet potato
  • 50 grams (1¾ ounces) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (ideally freshly grated)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 250 to 300 grams (2 to 2½ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • Sauce and Assembly
  • Kosher salt
  • 60 grams (about ½ cup) hazelnuts, very coarsely chopped
  • 185 grams (¾ cup) unsalted butter
  • 8 to 10 sage leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving
  1. Gnocchi
  2. 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.
  3. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh of the sweet potatoes and pass through a ricer or mash with a fork. Spread on a paper towel-lined sheet pan and let cool completely. Sop up as much moisture as possible with paper towels before using. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh out 450 grams of the sweet potatoes.
  4. Pass the russet potato through a ricer or mash with a fork (if the latter, remove any large undercooked pieces). 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 250 grams (about 1 heaping cup—if you only have a little potato left, use it all.)
  5. Make the dough: Transfer the sweet potatoes to a medium bowl. Add the cheese, egg yolks, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and stir until smooth and well combined.
  6. 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.
  7. Transfer the dough to a 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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).
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  1. Sauce and Assembly
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; generously season with salt.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 until the gnocchi float to the surface, plus 30 seconds more.
  5. To pan fry (optional): 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).
  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.
  7. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Cate Hernandez
    Cate Hernandez
  • Ann Del Tredici
    Ann Del Tredici
  • Laura415
  • Meryl Feinstein, Pasta Social Club
    Meryl Feinstein, Pasta Social Club
Meryl Feinstein is a chef and pastaia who left the corporate world for the food industry in 2018. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education, Meryl got her start at the renowned New York establishments Lilia and Misi, where she was part of the pasta production team. During that time, Meryl founded Pasta Social Club, a platform that brings people together over a shared love of food, learning, and making connections both on- and offline. She now lives in Austin, where she hosts virtual pasta-making workshops and develops recipes. Her dishes draw on her travels in Italy, ongoing research into the rich history of traditional pasta-making, and her Jewish heritage.

7 Reviews

ekamouse December 22, 2021
We were really excited about this recipe. The texture was great, but the flavor was a little one note. Part of the problem was that it was challenging to determine whether to use sweet potato or yams for this recipe. The recipe calls for sweet potato, yet the orange color depicted in the photos indicates that yams were actually used. Whaaaaat? Yes, look it up- yams are the orange oft mis-labelled "sweet potato!" The sweeter yam bedfellow of the true sweet potato, would have held up a better to the sauce. A taste test comparison with yams is definitely on our menu!
Grannycindy November 28, 2021
My daughter made this for thanksgiving dinner. It was so flavorful and the texture was perfection.
Cate H. November 23, 2021
I don’t think this recipe is bad, I just don’t think that it’s the best use of sweet potatoes, which are very, very good on their own. To me, the mashed and spiced sweet potatoes I tasted in step 1 were better than the final product, which was ready about an hour and a half later. I think their lovely flavor gets lost in the flour that you need to hold the gnocchi together. Gnocchi is a much better use case for a boring old russet potato!

That said, having made this recipe twice now (the first time it was outright inedible) here are my notes:
1. Drying out the sweet potatoes more after you roast them is a non-optional step, unless you have exceptionally dry, old sweet potatoes. You can go through half a roll of paper towels to dry out the sweet potatoes, or you can get another dish dirty and just cook them in the saucepan after you've roasted and mashed them. Save yourself the time, and just cook them in the saucepan.
2. You must use potato ricer or a food mill for the russet potato. I tried to push the potato pieces through a sieve with a wooden spoon (my colander’s holes were too wide), which was painfully slow. However, simply mashing them with a fork did not produce a good texture at all.
Ann D. November 7, 2021
Meryl, the gnocchi would be even more delicious if you lightened their texture by rolling them over fork tines or an gnocchi board. As an Italian, it is embarrassing to see these presented this way--chubby little hunks of dough. Roll them over a fork, please! You will be even happier with them.
Meryl F. November 7, 2021
Hi Ann,
Thanks for your comment. Many Italian gnocchi di zucca recipes do not roll the dough over a fork or gnocchi board. This dough is very delicate because of the added water content from the sweet potatoes, so rolling is more difficult--plus, rolling can compress the dough, making them denser. Of course, as with all Italian cooking, there are many gnocchi di zucca variations, so if you prefer to roll the gnocchi over a fork, I absolutely encourage you to do so!
Laura415 November 4, 2021
Perfect timing. I needed a vegetarian recipe and was thinking to try and use up some sweet potatoes. I had thought of sweet potato gnocchi but needed a recipe. I think I'm going to use 3 different kinds. One Japanese sweet potatoe which taste like roasted chestnuts and is a light creamy yellow. That with the regular potato and one of the orange sweet potatoes will be a nice color for the gnocchi. Will also use all gluten free flour instead of the regular flour. It works very well.
Meryl F. November 5, 2021
Sounds fantastic, I hope you enjoy them! And absolutely--gnocchi are very easy to make gluten free and/or vegan. :)