Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter Basil Sauce
I miss Italian food. A lot. I try to avoid even going to Italian restaurants because I inevitably get to watch others twirling their tomato sauce drenched spaghetti with extra mozzarella, while I drown my sorrows in an iceberg lettuce salad and an abundance of red wine.
One of the best Italian staples is gnocchi. It’s time-consuming, yet incredibly simple to make: potato, egg, flour. I have made it in the past, and, since sweet potatoes are now in season, I felt determined to try my hand at a lectin-free compliant sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter sauce. It did not disappoint. Just like regular gnocchi, it takes a while to make. The process is so fun, though, that you could make it a family night and have something delicious to eat at the end of it.
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Prep the sweet potato
The first thing you need to do is cook the sweet potato. Even though 1 sweet potato isn’t a huge volume, use a large pot, because you can use the same pot to cook the gnocchi later. Peel the sweet potato, cut into 4-5 large chunks, and cover with water and a dash of salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, partially covered. Drain the water and let them cool slightly, then mash em’ up.
Make the dough
Instead of traditional white flour or semolina flour, you’ll be using cassava flour. It’s grain free, made from yuca root, and will yield the delicious, chewy texture of gnocchi that traditional wheat flour yields. My favorite brand, with the most consistent texture, is available through Amazon Prime.
Use your hands to mix in the flour and egg–there’s no better way to test the quality of the dough. The key to a good gnocchi dough (or any bread dough) is to add just enough flour that the dough doesn’t stick to your hands, but not too much that the dough starts to crumble (cassava flour is really crumbly, so you’ll know easily if you’ve crossed that threshold). You should be able to form a ball with the dough and hold it in your hand without it sticking or crumbling apart.
The fun part!
This is the best part of making gnocchi, and you can drag this process out for as long as your kids want to play. Rolling out gnocchi dough is like playing with Play-doh. What you wanna do is roll out the dough into long, thin snakes about the width of your thumb.
They look like fingers, so you should probably make a hand.
When you’ve finished having your fun rolling out the dough, the next part is equally as fun. Cut the dough snakes into 1-inch pieces. Then, taking the two dough ends between your thumb and forefinger, use your other thumb to press a shallow little thumbprint into each piece. True gnocchi has “ridges,” but, unless you have a dedicated gnocchi board, this is the easier and more efficient way of doing it.
Cook Those Delicious Dumplings
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Then, working in two batches, lower the gnocchi one slotted spoonful at a time into the pot (to avoid scalding yourself from splashing gnocchi). There is no quantitative cook time–you will know when they’re done when they float to the surface. As the gnocchi float to the surface, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and store in a covered dish to keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining half.
Make the Basil Butter Sauce
Gnocchi are traditionally served with a cream or butter sauce, which I’m totally down for, so now would be the time to make that. There really is no “taking a break” from the gnocchi to make the sauce, so either designate a sauce person, or make it afterward while the gnocchi keep warm in a covered dish.
Browning butter is a pleasant task, because it smells heavenly. You’ll start by melting the butter in a large saucepan pan over medium heat, swirling it around. As the butter melts and heats, it will start to foam. Once it turns a golden brown color and you smell a nutty aroma emanating from it, remove it from the heat, and toss in the basil and the gnocchi.
This recipe is incredibly rich. I would suggest serving it with a large green salad to balance out the richness of it. This is a perfect fall food for when the weather starts to get a bit chilly again. Have fun and enjoy!
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter Basil Sauce
Homemade, lectin free, sweet potato gnocchi made with cassava flour and egg. Coated with a rich, creamy basil brown butter sauce.
- 1 1-pound sweet potato (peeled and cut into 4-5 chunks)
- 1 large egg (omega-3 or pastured)
- 1.5 cups cassava flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons butter (French or Italian, unsalted)
- 1 clove garlic (crushed)
- 1/2 small lemon (zested and juiced)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1.5 cups fresh basil (torn and divided)
- 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
PLACE sweet potato in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Drain and let cool. Mash with a potato masher in a large bowl.
ADD the egg and salt, and, using your hands, slowly add the flour, working it into the dough. Add enough flour so the dough no longer sticks to your fingers, but isn’t crumbly.
BRING a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
MEANWHILE, roll chunks of dough into long, thin snakes, about the width of your thumb. Cut each snake into 1-inch pieces and, gripping each piece with one hand, use your other thumb to put a shallow indentation in each piece.
DROP the gnocchi pieces into the boiling water using a slotted spoon. When they float to the surface, remove them with the slotted spoon and store in a covered dish to keep warm. Work in 2 or more batches.
MELT butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until butter begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add gnocchi and all but 1/4 cup of basil, tossing, until gnocchi is lightly browned and basil is wilted, about 2 minutes.
STIR in the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve topped with the remaining basil and cheese.