I’ll never forget the first time I tried gnocchi. It was a small, dimly lit trattoria in Florence. I was a college student on my first trip to Italy, soaking up every sight, sound, and taste, with wide-eyed wonder that such a magical place could exist. The pillowy handmade pasta was like nothing I’d tried before, somehow both light and incredibly nourishing all at once. It was a meal that oozed comfort and care, and it left an indelible impression in my memory.
Every fall, I return to those comforting flavors of pasta paired with brown butter and sage. For a recent dinner party I hosted to celebrate the changing seasons, I made an especially autumnal version with sweet potato gnocchi. It really doesn’t get cozier than this for a simple weeknight at home or a special occasion with friends. Read on for how this sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter and sage comes together.
Store-Bought vs. Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi
First, the big question—is it hard to make gnocchi by hand? The answer is that it’s actually quite simple, but it does take some time and patience. That’s way I’m sharing how to make this recipe using store-bought sweet potato gnocchi (Trader Joe’s makes the best, in my opinion)—and I’m also sharing how to make gnocchi from scratch if you’re so inclined.
I’m a big believer that preparing delicious food should also be stress-free, so if you have the time on a weekend for a fun little project, by all means, relish in the process of forming the gnocchi by hand. For those nights when you want comfort served fast? Grab a bag of the frozen goods and don’t feel the slightest bit guilty.
How to Pan-Fry Gnocchi
Pan-frying is my preferred way to make any type of gnocchi, as it yields that slightly crispy golden brown crust with a fluffy interior. Here are my tips for getting perfect pan-fried gnocchi every time:
- Use a non-stick skillet. This is a must to ensure that golden brown crust doesn’t stick to the pan. These days, there are plenty of non-toxic options for non-stick—I usually use ceramic.
- Get the pan really hot. Preheat the pan to medium high, then add half olive oil, half butter to evenly coat the bottom. The olive oil raises the smoke point so the butter doesn’t burn, and the butter adds delicious, nutty flavor.
- Lay your gnocchi in a single even layer so that each gnocchi makes contact with the skillet. This is how you get that sear. If you’re making a lot, you may have to do this in multiple batches.
- Carefully flip it. After about three minutes, check to see if the gnocchi is turning golden brown on the first side. If it is, use a fork or spoon to carefully flip each gnocchi to the other side. You want to try to leave as much of the “crust” on each gnocchi as possible.
- Don’t overcook. Let gnocchi cook on the second side for about three more minutes until warmed through and golden on both sides. Then you’re ready to add any other ingredients, sauces, herbs, or spices.
The Flavor Enhancers
Gnocchi is a perfect canvas for so many ingredients, from slow-roast tomatoes to basil pesto to a simple handful of fresh herbs. For this recipe, I wanted to really lean into fall flavors, so I first prepared a simple sauté of wild mushrooms, did a quick fry of some sage leaves (I promise it’s simple), and drizzled brown butter over all of it. I have to say—this is probably my favorite gnocchi ever.
Read on for the recipe, and be sure to hop over to the fall nature-inspired dinner party I hosted with Casa Zuma, Woven, Martha Stoumen Wines, SriMu Cheese, and Sweet Laurel Bakery. We share the deets the full table setting, what we poured, and the delish (gluten-free and vegan!) pies we devoured for dessert.