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Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Kale, Sage, and Balsamic Brown Butter

John Lee

Servings: 4 as a main course, 6 to 8 as an appetizer

This dish was inspired solely by the straightforward combination of earthy sweet potato with the natural richness of nuts and root vegetables. I use aged balsamic vinegar to showcase the flavor of that intense, marvelously aged Italian product. The sauce of balsamic and brown butter works really well with this rustic dish.

This recipe is excerpted from Try This at Home.


  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 1 lb.)
  • 1 to 1-1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 oz. pancetta, finely diced
  • 1⁄2 small white onion, finely diced
  • 4 Tbs. (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbs. aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 oz. kale, stemmed and cut into thin ribbons
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage, plus whole leaves for garnish
  • A Parmesan cheese wedge for shaving


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and put them on a baking sheet. Roast until completely soft, 1 to 1-1/4 hours. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
  • Halve the sweet potatoes and scrape the flesh into a large bowl. Refrigerate until cool.
  • Add 1 cup of the flour, the egg, salt, and pepper to taste to the sweet potatoes and mix until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a well-floured work surface and knead gently until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. (If it is still sticky, add a bit more flour and continue kneading.) Use a bench scraper to keep the dough from sticking and to release it from the work surface. Cut the dough into 6 portions and roll each portion into a long cylinder about 1/2 inch thick. Cut each one into 1/2-inch pieces and transfer to a baking sheet lined with a floured towel.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onions and cook until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium-low heat and cook until the milk solids begin to turn brown and the butter gives off a nutty aroma. Immediately add the vinegar and swirl the pan to combine. Add the kale, stir, and add 1 to 2 Tbs. water to help the leaves wilt. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
  • Reduce the heat under the boiling water to maintain a simmer. Drop the gnocchi into the water and cook until they all float, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the gnocchi and add to the balsamic brown butter, along with the reserved pancetta and onions. Sprinkle in the chopped sage, season with salt and pepper, and toss well to coat.
  • Divide the gnocchi among warm shallow bowls and, using a vegetable peeler, shave Parmesan strips over the top. Garnish with sage leaves and serve immediately.

    try this at home: recipes from my head to your plate


Reprinted from the book Try This at Home by Richard Blais. Copyright © 2013 by Trail Blais Inc. Photographs © 2013 by John Lee. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.


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Reviews (6 reviews)

  • mollymu | 08/07/2022

    Dellicious. I've made it twice. Once with yellow sweet potatoes and once with red. The red is much prettier but as far as taste goes, the yellow is light years ahead of the red. Wondered why there were walnuts in the photo.

  • Juanita233 | 10/08/2019

    This was delicious. I made this with store-bought sweet potato gnocchi; didn't have fresh sage on hand so I used dried sage (about 1.5 tsp); and didn't have pancetta, so I omitted that. Half a stick of butter seemed like a lot, so I used about half that. Also added more balsamic vinegar, because it cooked down quickly (in seconds) when added to the hot pan. Even with these alterations, it tasted awesome - the combination of sweet (from the gnocchi), savory (from the brown butter), and acid (from the balsamic) is fantastic.

  • Krispie | 11/21/2016

    This was good. The sauce was great. I allowed ttthe gnocchi to remain a bit sticky bsed on other people's comments about the flour flavor being stronger than they would like. Mine tsted of sweet potatoes however they were fery dense and heavy - not lik the light and mealt in your mouth gnocchi that I love. I would make again when i wanted a sweet potato recipe with some variety but I would not make these often. I might also make the sauce with stroe bought gnocchi.

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