Serves 8 to 10 as a first course
However you sauce these gnocchi, keep it simple so their flavor can shine. I sautéed the gnocchi in a sage browned butter after they came out of the boiling water. This quick sauté leaves the gnocchi slightly crisp and pleasantly brown on the outside and tender on the inside. This recipe is adapted from Epicurious.com.
3 medium-large sweet potatoes, halved lengthwise
12 ounces ricotta cheese (drained if watery)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt and ground black pepper
Pinch grated or ground nutmeg (optional)
About 2 cups of flour, more for rolling
Adjust oven to lowest position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes, cut side down on a small foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Holding the potato in a pot holder-protected hand, scoop potato flesh into a bowl to cool completely. (You’ll need about 3 cups); mash with a fork. Mix in ricotta. Add cheese,1 1/2 teaspoons salt, several grinds of pepper, and nutmeg; mix until well blended.
Using more or less than the suggested amount, add flour ½ cup at a time and continue to mix until a soft (but not too sticky) dough has formed.
Divide dough into 6 pieces. Working 1 piece at a time, use your hands to roll dough into a long rope about ½ to ¾ inch in diameter. Cut the rope into ¾ inch lengths. If you’re feeling adventurous, roll each gnocchi over the tine of a fork to get those restaurant-style indentations.
Repeat the rolling and cutting with each portion of dough. Transfer gnocchi in a single layer to a large, rimmed baking sheet and freeze them for at least 30 minutes, which helps them hold together during boiling. (Can be frozen in zipper-lock freezer bags for up to 3 months.)
When ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Working in small batches, cook gnocchi until they start to float to the top—this indicates that they are cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and top as suggested (see above).