I’ve been an unconventional Thanksgiving chef for years now. While the first few Turkey days I hosted always included this famous bird, the glorious golden gobbler has been absent in recent years. I actually enjoy turkey, very much actually, I just don’t love preparing it. Despite making a dramatic entrance in any special holiday meal, it’s one of those things that I’d just rather have someone else prepare for me. So Thanksgiving dinner in our household tends to be a bit unconventional – still good, just with the turkey MIA.
Instead, I’m always looking for other ingredients to feature in our menu that celebrates the harvest of the late summer/fall season. The humble (and far less dramatic) sweet potato is an end of season crop. They are often overlooked this time of year for the more popular pumpkin or some fancy heirloom winter squash but they are making a huge statement this year in a my Thanksgiving spread. Coupled with fresh garden sage, this dish epitomizes fall flavor.
If you are going for a real colorful impact, substitute with purple sweet potato. It may be a bit tough to come by but it is almost always available in Chinese grocery stores. They tend to a bit smaller, are a feast for the eyes, have a more floral scent when cooked and are more starchy than the more common orange variety. This makes them perfect for this gnocchi recipe, if you can find them. If you cannot find purple sweet potato, the orange ones will work just fine – you may need a touch more flour but the results will be very similar.
This recipe makes a lot of gnocchi so I’m recommending that you eat half right away and freeze the rest for later use. The instructions will indicate when to freeze the pasta and will highlight some do-ahead and time-saving tips too!
- 2 lbs purple or regular sweet potatoes, cleaned and pierced all over with a fork or knife
- 12 oz. ricotta, strained over a sieve for a couple of hours
- 3 oz. grated parmesan cheese (1 cup)
- 2 Tbsp sugar or brown sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cup flour
- Few fresh grates of nutmeg
Place the potato in the microwave and cook in 2 minute intervals until the center is soft and cooked through. This should take about 10 minutes. Cool, remove the flesh and mash. Measure 3 cups of potato mash.
In a large bowl, mix the cheeses, sugar, salt and nutmeg. Add the potato and stir through until combined. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until a workable dough is formed.
Prepare a large parchment lined tray dusted with flour.
Divide into 6 equal portions and roll each piece into a rope, 1 inch in diameter or measuring 20 inches long. Cut the rope into 20 pieces and indent each piece by rolling over the tines of a fork. Set the formed pastas on the prepared tray and repeat with the other 6 portions of dough.
Once all the dough has been formed, freeze half the gnocchi on the tray and once frozen, transfer them into a zip lock bag for a later use – To cook the other half, keep on going!
Now we are cooking half the gnocchi. Bring a very large pot of water to a boil and add a good amount of salt. Working in 3 or 4 batches, cook the gnocchi for 5-6 minutes until they have puffed and are floating. Add another minute or two if cooking from frozen. Remove the gnocchi and place on a large clean plate or tray. Cool completely. This step can be completed up to 4 hours in advance if you are cooking for a crowd. Save a half cup of the pasta water.
Brown Butter and Sage Sauce
- 1/2 cup salted butter
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
- finishing salt
- chopped chives for garnish
- sage leaves for garnish
- grated Parmesan (optional)
In a small pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook until the solids have separated and have begun to brown. You can tell when your butter is done because it will smell beautifully nutty! Remove from heat and stir in the sage – it will bubble!!! Let it sit for at least 30 minutes and up to a few hours in advance.
10 minutes before you are ready to eat. Strain the butter into a large pan over medium heat. Add the gnocchi and stir through to coat. If you prefer a looser sauce, add a Tbsp of the pasta water, you may need a bit more. Cook for 5-7 minutes until gnocchi is warmed through completely. Plate on a warmed dish, sprinkle with chives and garnish with more sage leaves.