When Gnudi Met Gnocchi

by Pamela

sweet potato gnocchi, gnudi, ricotta gnocchi, okinawa sweet potatoes, purple sweet potato, beet gnudi

While we were in Maui, recently, I became hopelessly addicted to one little ingredient (originally it was mai tai’s, but I was informed that a mai tai was not an ingredient…<note to self: must get on that petition campaign to get mai tai’s recognized as an ingredient>) – the Okinawa purple sweet potato.  How could one little potato have such a seductive pull on me?  For starters, this little sweet potato looks all innocent by having a beige outer skin, but inside lurks a color that ranges from lavender to the deepest iris purple you’ve ever seen.  The purple sweet potato isn’t quite the same as the dark orange sweet potato that we’re used to either, it’s not as sweet.  I ate this little gem of a tuber almost every night in preparations ranging from mashed to gnocchi.

One of my good friend’s just had her birthday and I was trying to come up with a dish to make for her birthday dinner.  She’s a huge Laker fan.  Did I mention that she is a HUGE fan?  I instantly thought about making her the sweet potato gnocchi that I fell in love with on the island, but wasn’t sure to what to serve with it.  I mostly ate mine with different kinds of fish, but I just wasn’t feeling that for this dish.  So I took a tour around the internet and decided that gnudi would be a fantastic compliment to the sweet potato gnocchi.

Gnudi (pronounced Nu-dee) brings out the adolescent immature dork in me.  What is this strange sounding gnudi thing?  It’s a type of gnocchi made from ricotta cheese and a bit of flour.  The resulting ‘dumpling’ is much lighter than gnocchi…a nude ravioli of sorts.  It’s the best part of a ravioli (the filling) without the pasta shell.  If only there were more foods that offered up their fillings without causing us to leave the tell tale signs of their outer shells as evidence.

Then there are gnocchi.  Gnocchi are little pasta dumplings generally made with a combination of potato and flour.  These tend to be heavier than their gnudi counterparts and make for a very filling main course.

I found a recipe for The Spotted Pig Gnudi that not only looked easy, but also delicious.  As I went through the recipe, I wondered how I could make it a bit healthier as well as tasty.  I decided that adding shredded golden beets to the mixture (similar to Evan Kleiman did) would give it some great color as well as a slightly savory flavor change that would work really well against the sweeter ricotta gnocchi.

Gnudi-and-Sweet-Potato-GnocchiTo lighten up the consistency of the sweet potato gnocchi, I added a bit of ricotta cheese to the mixture.  There are lots of recipes out there for ricotta gnocchi and sometimes gnudi is called ricotta gnocchi, but I wouldn’t label this recipe like that (there’s just not enough ricotta in here).  By adding some ricotta to the potato mixture I was able to achieve a flavor that also wasn’t an extreme difference from the gnudi flavors.

The topping for this fresh pasta dish couldn’t be more simple.  A fried sage and brown butter sauce is lightly spooned over the top to adds to the richness of flavors.

This gnudi and purple sweet potato gnocchi is a fantastic dinner for those cooler nights, but why not serve this as a celebratory dinner for your favorite purple and gold team.

*Sometimes you can find these potatoes at your supermarket.  I bought my Okinawa Sweet Potatoes directly through Melissa’s.

Relationship Advice

I’m as guilty as the next girl with regards to prancing around promulgating the princess pretense, but maybe it’s time to stop the nonsense.

Who was the idiot that coined the phrase “you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince?”  No doubt, it was some misogynistic toad who couldn’t get laid, let alone kissed, based on his looks or sparkling douchebag personality.

I totally get the princess complex…damsel in distress that always gets rescued by the prince, footmen and fairy godmothers to take care of your every need and crown of gold and precious gems.  How could you not want that life?  But here’s the cold hard truth ladies – MEN ARE NOT PRINCES!  Not only are men not princes, but they also don’t aspire to be them either.  They don’t wear tights, they don’t wear a crown, they don’t gallop into town on horseback while wearing an ermine lined cape nor do they spend their free moments engaged in the quest to free you from that evil spell of singledom.

Today’s man would rather run side by side with Lara Croft than work on rescuing Princess Peach (and not just because of the rockin’ body on Croft vs. Peach’s more rubenesque figure).  It’s more fun to run through the obstacles and celebrate the riches with someone rather than working solo to improve the world per one person’s view and then sit on the sidelines while that person enjoys the fruits of your hard labor.

So ladies, if you find yourself boo-hooing on the sidelines of life because your Prince Charming hasn’t revealed himself to you…you’re going to get a waterlogged face because you’ll be crying for a good long time.  It’s time to put on your big girl britches, put on some hard charging music and get out there and make like Lara Croft.


Golden Beet Gnudi and Purple Sweet Potato Gnocchi Recipe

Serves 4 – 8 (depending on serving size you choose)

Golden Beet Gnudi Ingredients

  • 2 Medium or 3 Small Golden Beets (washed and trimmed)
  • 1 15 Ounce Container Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Cup Grated Parmesan (plus additional for topping finished dish)
  • 2 Whole Large Eggs Plus 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 Teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Cup Flour (may need slightly more)
  • 4 Cups Semolina Flour

Purple Sweet Potato Gnocchi

  • 2 Pounds Okinawa Sweet Potatoes
  • 2/3 Cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Large Egg Yolk
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 1/4 Cup Flour (approximately)

Brown Butter Sage Sauce Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12-16 sage leaves


Golden Beet Gnudi Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit.

Wrap beets in aluminum foil and place on baking sheet.  Bake approximately 45 minutes (until beets are soft).  Remove from oven and let beets cool.  Slip the skins off with your hands (the skins will come right off).  Grate the beets into a medium size bowl using the large holes of a box grater.

Add the next 4 ingredients in the bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. The mixture will be light and airy.

Add the flour to the beet mixture and stir to combine.  If mixture is too sticky to roll into balls, add more flour (one tablespoon at a time) until mixture is workable.

Pour 1/2 cup semolina flour into a 9×13 pan and spread evenly.

With floured hands, use a #1 ice cream scoop (or 1 Tablespoon measuring spoon) and roll the ricotta mixture into balls and place in pan with semolina flour.  Make sure that the balls are not touching each other or the sides of the pan.  Cover each layer of the balls completely with flour (approximately 1/2 cup) and begin another layer.  Finish by completely covering the ricotta balls and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Purple Sweet Potato Gnocchi Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.

Prick the potatoes with a fork and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or until tender. Let cool slightly.

Cut potatoes in half and scoop out the insides into a medium bowl and mash the potatoes. You’ll have approximately 2 cups of sweet potato.

To the potatoes, add the ricotta, egg yolk, and salt and pepper and mix well.

Lightly flour a baking sheet and set aside.

Add the flour to the mixture 1/2 cup at a time.  You only need enough flour to make sure that you can form the dough without it being too sticky.

Taking a small amount at a time, roll dough into a 1″ log. Use a sharp knife and cut the roll into 1-inch pieces and set aside on the floured baking sheet. Continue this with the rest of the dough. Refrigerate the gnocchi on the baking sheet until ready to cook.

Cooking the Gnudi and Gnocchi

Remove the gnudi from the semolina flour and set aside on a baking sheet.  (The semolina flour can be sifted and used for other things.)

Allow the gnudi and the gnocchi to come to room temperature.  And bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Carefully transfer the gnudi to the boiling water (you may have to do this in batches).  Cook until they float to the top then remove them with a slotted spoon and set them aside.

Repeat this step with the gnocchi.

While the gnocchi is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a saute pan.

Once melted, add the gnudi and cook until they are browned (this may also have to be done in steps if the saute pan isn’t big enough) and set aside.

Repeat this step with the gnocchi.

Heat the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter, in a saute pan, over medium high heat. Watch it carefully, and when the butter solids begin to brown and the butter is foamy, add the sage leaves. In a few moments,  the butter will turn a medium brown color. Don’t overcook it or it will taste burnt.

Serve the gnudi and gnocchi side by side and spoon some of the brown butter sage sauce over the top.  Add freshly grated parmesan and serve.


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Lentil Breakdown November 6, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Thanks for the gnudi show. Turns out I’ve made it but never knew that was the name. I always called it ricotta gnocchi (with ricotta and flour, no potato). Then I tried Evan Kleiman’s beet one a while back (with red beets), and that didn’t quite work out for me. Will have to try it again. Glad you had better luck with it!

Nancy November 4, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Beautiful!!! I’ve just been thinking about making gnudi !! I’ve yet to try these purple sweet potatoes and now I even more determined to try them!!!

bunkycooks November 4, 2010 at 4:47 pm

This dish definitely got my attention…naked ravioli with a flavorful sweet potato…and ricotta. That sounds like a winner to me. I love the butter and sage sauce. That is a classic.

marla {family fresh cooking} November 4, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Both Knudi & Gnocchi sound like two recipes I need to try. Thanks for introducing up to those purple sweet potatoes. I am always on the quest for healthier carbs over here 🙂 xo

naomi November 4, 2010 at 11:38 am

I love this. I giggle like an adolescent when I hear and say gnudi. Life’s too short to be serious all the time.

Love your relationship advice. I hate to hear women say, “I’m waiting for my prince”. Really?! Hasn’t the womens movement taken us beyond that?

naomi November 4, 2010 at 11:34 am

LOL. I love that you find as much humor in Gnudi too. I giggle everytime I hear. I know so adolescent of me, but life can’t always be serious.

Love your relationship advice. Too add to that, I really hate to hear a women say I’m waiting for my prince. Really? Hasn’t the womens movement moved us beyond that. Aside from that, if I were a man I’d be offended. Would women not be offended if men said I’m waiting for my princess, my damsel in distress to save? I think so.

Ken|hungry rabbit November 4, 2010 at 11:07 am

I love learning about new ingredients. Definitely a dish I will make. Glad your trip was more than just Mai Tai.

Pamela November 4, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Oh I could have made it allllll about the mai tai. Thankfully my husband has more sense than I do. 😉

lisaiscooking November 4, 2010 at 8:04 am

Perfect for a Lakers fan. I love the colors! And, sage and brown butter are fantastic for these. I have to try adding grated beets to gnudi next time I make them.

Belinda @zomppa November 3, 2010 at 7:43 pm

I gotta admit. The name still makes me giggle. We have purple sweet potatoes here in NC and love them!!

Pamela November 4, 2010 at 5:24 pm

We’re all allowed to have our adolescent fun. I’m glad I’ve got some company here in my sandbox.

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