08 April 2011

guest post: sweet potato gnocchi with balsamic brown butter

Dudes, I have an extra special treat for you today. A guest post from my sis! Kate is an amazing incredible cook, she has thick curly hair that I covet very much and she's always up for a good time. When I heard that she made gnocchi from scratch, I was all, "OMG!!!1! We must share this with the world." And so I made her write up her recipe, knowing full well that I'll probably just force her to make it for me again instead of actually learning to do it myself. Ah, well, what are big sisters for if not to make you homemade pasta and buy you boxes of wine when you're underage? (Sorry, Mom & Dad.) I present to you my sister Kate and her delicious gourmet dinner recipe. I apologize in advance that in the photos they somehow look like little chicken nuggets. This is my fault; I was practically drooling over these tiny guys and wasn't patient enough to grab a proper photo!

Hey folks! Let’s just say that the cookbook/recipe obsession runs in the family. So in light of my love for all things food, here is a guest post about gnocchi.

Gnocchi are basically a dumpling that can be made from a variety of ingredients. Most people would probably recognize potato gnocchi since it is often served at Italian restaurants. Having had gnocchi at restaurants and cooking the frozen and shelf-stable varieties at home, I finally decided it was time to try making them from scratch. Luckily my ambition cleared the way for what ended up being a very labor intensive process. Was it worth it? Heck yes. That’s what I love about cooking, being able to eat the fruits of your labor. Sure sometimes you end up with an epic fail, but that just makes the successes more impressive!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Balsamic Brown Butter 
(Inspired by this recipe)
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed*
Balsamic Brown Butter
  • ½ cup butter (I used salted. If you use unsalted, be sure to season to taste.)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and roast until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop the flesh from the potato and place in a large bowl, discarding the skin. Mash with a potato masher, then let cool, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, and nutmeg, and work into the warm potatoes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and using your hands, work into a smooth, soft dough. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 equal portions.** Roll each portion between your palms into a long rope, about ¾-inch thick. If the rope won't hold together, return it to the bowl with the remaining dough and work in more flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, as needed. Cut each rope of dough into ¾-inch long pieces. Press each piece against the tines of a floured fork, then drop into the lightly floured surface.*** (Gnocchi also can be placed in a single layer on a lightly floured baking sheet and refrigerated for several hours. Alternately, the gnocchi can be frozen for 1 hour then transferred to an airtight container and frozen for up to 1 month.) 
  5. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt to a low boil. Add the gnocchi in batches**** and cook just until they float to the top, 1 ½ to 2 minutes (or 3 minutes for frozen gnocchi.) Remove the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon and dry on towels.
  6. For the Balsamic Brown Butter: In a medium saucepan, cook the butter over medium heat until brown bits form and it has a nutty aroma, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the balsamic vinegar.***** Stir well. Adjust seasoning, to taste. 
Transfer gnocchi to a large serving dish and gently toss to coat with the balsamic butter. Garnish with black pepper and Parmesan. Serves 4-6.

Notes from the chef:
*I ended up using what I estimate to be about 3-3 ½ cups of flour total. You don’t want a sticky dough, but you don’t want a dry dough either.

**Divide the dough into as many portions as workable for you. I do not have the counter space to support dividing the dough into just 4 portions, so I did 8 which was more manageable.

***Don’t get hung up on the fork rolling…I didn’t. My technique needs some work but, in the mean time my gnocchi are ‘rustic’ because that’s what chefs say when their dishes aren’t perfect looking.(Editor's Note: I LOVE THIS. Now I call every dish I make "rustic".)

****I cooked my gnocchi in one batch, but was careful not to overcrowd the pot. I also just drained them in a colander, but was gentle with them.

*****On the Balsamic Brown Butter, BE CAREFUL when adding the vinegar. The HOT butter will bubble up in a scary fashion. Be sure to use a saucepan with high sides and you should be a-ok.


  1. Thanks for the amazing shout out. Nothing says sister love like a backpack full of beer and wine ;)

  2. Wowie, this looks amazing!! Great job, Kate!

  3. No need to be sorry for having your older sister provide you with alcoholic beverages when you were not of legal age. I am sure that you were using them in wonderful recipes and that the alcohol cooked out, so no need for me to have been concerned if I had known of this activity. You did use it in recipes, right? Love you both, and how does one place an order for these little gems?

  4. Loved these little delights - yay for experimentation and imagination in the kitchen. Kudos Kate! Note to PDH - yes, of course, the wine was for our budding Julia Child's food prep. I never should have worried about this! :)

  5. We made regular old gnocci, this looks thrilling. I can hardly wait to try it. I just saw it when I looked at your bench cusions, which also looked thrilling. Thanks for the inspirataion


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