This recipe puts a little twist on the classic potato gnocchi using sweet potato instead. I love its natural sweetness and beautiful color. I then coat the pillowy pieces with a rich, nutty and salty brown butter. (I felt that tomato sauce might be a bit too acidic and mask the sweetness.) To top it all off: crispy nuggets of pancetta and fried sage leaves. By Vivian Chan for Food Network Kitchen.
Poke holes all over each sweet potato with a fork, then rub all over with oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove and discard the skins. Quarter each sweet potato and pass a few pieces at a time through a ricer, landing the fluffy strands in a medium bowl; discard any stringy bits. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to mix. (Alternative method: Remove the skins after baking then grate the sweet potatoes on the large holes of a box grater.)
Bring a large wide pot of water to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, whisk to combine the flour and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Create a well in the center. Add the riced sweet potatoes and egg. Gently fold with a rubber spatula until just combined. Be sure not to overwork the dough!
Transfer the dough to a generously floured work surface. Bring the dough together with your hands, adding up to 1/4 cup flour, until the dough is just slightly sticky and can be patted into a disk. Let rest on the work surface, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Cut the dough into 4 equal wedges. Working with one wedge at a time, roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick log on a lightly floured surface. Cut each log into about thirty pieces. (The gnocchi will be slightly sticky in the center.) Transfer to a baking sheet and cover with a dish towel.
Cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, in a medium skillet over medium heat until golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Remove the skillet from the heat and reserve the skillet with the fat in it.
Generously season the boiling water with salt. Reduce the heat to medium and carefully drop a batch of gnocchi into the water and cook until they begin to float; remove to a serving platter with a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi.
Heat the reserved skillet and fat over medium heat. Add the butter and cook, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula, until brown flecks appear, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sage and gently fry in the brown butter until just crispy, about 1 minute.
Pour the melted butter on the cooked gnocchi. Top with the sage leaves and crispy pancetta pieces. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan, if desired. Enjoy while warm.
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