Sweet Potato & Ricotta Gnocchi with Pancetta Cream Sauce
There are those recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, and take decades to perfect. These dishes are steeped in the rich tapestries of our family histories, and made with love year after year, over hot fires and whispered family secrets.
Then there are the dishes that we, the new generation, bring to life in our own time. We concoct these dishes lovingly with our own techniques, until they become the coveted family recipes that we pass down to our children.
This sweet potato & ricotta gnocchi recipe is just that type of dish. Since we created it for the first time a few weeks ago, it has been so universally loved and applauded, that it will surely endure the test of time.
The gnocchi is a beautiful rustic auburn color, perfect for fall, and insanely delicious served with bright green peas and our sage & pancetta cream sauce. The gnocchi are rolled and cut into little bite size pillows, with a well-balanced fluffy and chewy texture. The sweet potato and ricotta provide a slight sweetness that pairs beautifully with savory pancetta, earthy sage and a rich white wine & cream sauce. Freshly shucked peas add a bright green color and a burst of tender crisp freshness to each bite. A light shaving of good quality Parmesan and freshly cracked black pepper are the final touches to a decadent masterpiece.
This is comfort food at its best, bringing all the fineries of haute cuisine to the well-worn wooden family kitchen table. It may take a few tries to master a great gnocchi, but what hand-me-down family recipe isn’t born from time, patience, and a labor of love?
Makes 4 entree or 8 appetizer servings
Ingredients for gnocchi
1.5 lbs or sweet potatoes
5 oz. of ricotta cheese
2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of brown sugar
Pinch of nutmeg
1 cup of all-purpose flour
2 oz of butter
4 oz of pancetta roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic
8 – 12 fresh sage leaves
1 cups of white wine
2 cups of cream
1/2 cup of fresh shelled peas
Freshly grated parmesan for garnish
For the Gnocchi:
Peel and cut sweet potatoes into large chunks. Add to a large pot of salted water, bring to a boil and continue to cook until you can easily pierce the sweet potato with a knife. When sweet potatoes are fully cooked, drain and mash well.
In a large bowl, gently combine ricotta, salt, sugar, egg, nutmeg, mashed sweet potatoes and about half of the flour. At this point, the dough will still be sticky, but you want to avoid adding too much flour. Doing so will produce a dense rubbery gnocchi. Instead, we incorporate the remaining flour when rolling out the dough.
Divide the dough in half. On a floured surface, gently roll the dough into a long tube, continuing to flour the surface as it is absorbed into the dough. Once the dough is in a long tube roughly 3/4 inch in diameter, you can start cutting up the gnocchi into little squares. You can do this using a knife or pastry scraper. Set the pieces aside on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of dough mixture. Discard any leftover flour.
You can cook the gnocchi immediately, or freeze until ready to use.
Drop gnocchi gently into a large pot of boiling salted water. If you’re cooking frozen gnocchi, do not defrost, simply drop frozen gnocchi directly into boiling water. Once the gnocchi floats to the surface, skim from the boiling water and add to a warm pan of sauce. To serve, spoon gnocchi and sauce onto plate and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan.
If freezing, place the entire tray of floured gnocchi into the freezer for half an hour, then remove from the tray and place in a ziplock bag. This will ensure that your gnocchi doesn’t stick together in the freezer.
For the Sauce:
In a saute pan, heat butter and cook chopped pancetta until golden brown. Add garlic, peas and sage and cook for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add wine, and reduce for about 2 minutes. Finally, add the cream and reduce until the sauce has thickened.
*This sweet potato & ricotta gnocchi with sage and pancetta cream sauce recipe was adapted from The Gourmandise School of Cooking