Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Walnut Sage Pesto and Toasted Pine Nuts / by Chelsea Zwieg

I have a habit of reading a good recipe, jumping up and down with excitement (in my head...or maybe in real life), dog-earing the page and then never making it. It'll just hang out in the back of my brain for weeks, months, YEARS. Meet culprit number one: sweet potato gnocchi. 

Bon Appétit had a recipe for sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter and fried sage my junior year of high school. How I remember that it was my junior year I don't know, but I do know that the idea has been camping out in my mind for the past six years. Vaguely popping up when I'm trying to think of something to make for dinner, only to be beaten by something else. Well, let this post be my apology to gnocchi everywhere. Because it turns out that the back of the brain recipe junk yard is no place for sweet potato gnocchi. The only real place for it is on your plate for dinner. Tonight. 

I went a slightly different route than the original Bon Appétit recipe, and instead used one by Giada. Being the goddess of Italian cooking that she is, I knew it would be good. Plus her recipe included cinnamon so it was really no contest. I also added a walnut sage pesto and toasted pine nuts for a little crunch. And remember last week, when we talked about brown butter? If you brown some butter in a pan and sauté the gnocchi in it for a few minutes right before serving, they get a toasted, buttery exterior that absolutely pushes this over the top. 

So please, don't wait six years to make this. I've done enough gnocchi procrastination for all of us. 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Makes 6-8 servings


  • 2 large sweet potatoes (2 pounds total) 
  • 2/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper 
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, plus more for work surface 
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

Instructions |

  • Rinse sweet potatoes, pat dry and pierce all over with a fork. Place potatoes on a paper towel and microwave until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half to cool and scoop the flesh into a large measuring cup. Make sure potatoes measure to about 2 cups
  • In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, salt, cinnamon and pepper. Add the potatoes and mix until well combined. I found it easiest to add the potatoes in small portions, stirring after each addition. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and divide into six equal portions. Roll each portion into a rope, 1 inch wide. Cut each rope into 1 inch pieces. Roll the gnocchi over the tines of a fork or a gnocchi board
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi in 4-5 batches and boil, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon, transfer to a foil covered plate to keep warm and continue with the remaining gnocchi
  • Heat 1 tsp. oil in small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pine nuts and stir until brown and toasted, about 3 minutes
  • Serve gnocchi with toasted pine nuts and walnut sage pesto (see below) 

Walnut Sage Pesto 

| Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

Instructions |

  • Pulse walnuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped 
  • Add sage and parsley and process until a paste begins to form, about 30 seconds
  • With the processor running, slowly add olive oil until the pesto is completely pureed
  • Add cheese and pulse to incorporate