You win some, you lose some: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Maple Cinnamon Sage Butter

Kenny Chesney was spot on when he wisely noted that “asking for seconds, to keep her from tearing up” was a good strategy. Thank goodness my fiance got that memo.

Tonight was just one of those nights. I had a lot to do, not enough time to do it and aimed a little too high on the dinner menu. It also didn’t help that I didn’t start cooking until 8:30. I tried so hard, and it sounded so delicious, but it was just not my best work.

The plan was to use my Farmer’s Market sweet potatoes and sage and whip them up into the perfect fall comfort food. It was going to be great! But when my fiance walked into the kitchen, he stumbled in on me on the verge of tears looking at my soggy plate of entirely overcooked gnocchi. They were a sloppy, mushy mess! I was totally bummed. But I got a kiss on the forehead, took a whiff of the sauce (which smelled amazing) and tried again with my second batch of gnocchi.

Bad gnocchi  /// Good gnocchi 

The second batch turned out substantially better than the first. What I learned? Do NOT over cook gnocchi. If it’s still soft after the noted time, cooking it for 10 extra minutes does not make it firmer. In fact, the opposite will happen. For the second batch, I waited until the gnocchi floated to the top, then set the timer for 2 minutes. No matter what you think, take the gnocchi out at that point. Clearly, I’m no expert, but that is my recommendation.

On the bright side, the sauce was kick butt. I absolutely loved it. It smelled like toffee and tasted of sweet sage. I just loved it. So overall, it wasn’t a total bust, but also not my favorite thing.

I think it’s important to tell you all about my failures in the kitchen too, because I think it’s important to try out new things. I think you have to go out of your comfort zone sometimes and try new recipes – even the scary ones! Sometimes, they’re not going to be great, but you will learn from them and you will figure out what you did wrong and then you’ll fix it next time. So I hope that I can be a little bit encouraging in this field.

Welp, now that I totally sold you on it, if you’d like to try it too, here’s the recipe! Let me know if you do it better than I do – which I’m sure 90% of you will.


*   *   *


2 sweet potatoes
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cups flour, plus 1/3 cup for the work surface

Maple Cinnamon Sage Butter Sauce:

1/2 cup butter
20 fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Start with 2 medium sweet potatoes. Poke each one with a fork several times, wrap in a paper towel, and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Flip the potatoes upside down and then microwave for another 5 minutes, or until the potato is tender. Mash the sweet potatoes and transfer to a large measuring cup to make sure the sweet potatoes measure about 1 cup. Transfer the mashed sweet potatoes back to the large bowl.

Add the ricotta cheese, salt, cinnamon and pepper and blend until well mixed. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough forms.

Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough in a ball on the work surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal balls. Roll out each ball into a 1-inch wide rope. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces. Transfer the formed gnocchi to a plate. Continue with the remaining gnocchi.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the gnocchi in 2 batches and cook until gnocchi floats to the top. Cook an additional 2 minutes.

Drain the gnocchi using a slotted spoon onto a baking sheet. Continue with the remaining gnocchi.

While the gnocchi are cooking, melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted add the sage leaves.

Continue to cook, swirling the butter occasionally, until the milk solids begin to brown. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the cinnamon, syrup, salt and pepper. Gently stir the mixture. When the bubbles subside, yours sauce is done!

Serve over cooked gnocchi.


Related Recipe: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Gouda Cheese Sauce

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