This was my first time making gnocchi from scratch. It wasn’t as complicated as I’d assumed it would be and I’m sure it will get easier with each attempt. The toughest part was trying to get the right amount of flour in the dough to make sure it was pliable but not too dry and not too sticky.
Full disclosure: you’re probably going to need to tinker with the recipe too – depending on how big your sweet potatoes are. I’ve provided a guideline and am suggesting you add more flour one tablespoon at a time after the first two cups are mixed in.
After executing this dish and being pleasantly surprised with the outcome, it made me reflect on what held me back from attempting homemade gnocchi earlier.
I was scrolling on Instagram and came across a suggest of wisdom organizational psychologist Adam Grant that read, “Most of what looks like laziness is actually fear. Most people can tolerate hard work; what holds them back is the fear of failure or rejection. It helps to separate results from ego. Your performance might fail, your work might get rejected, but they’re only a snapshot of you.”
While making gnocchi from scratch is a pretty low stakes endeavour, I made this for a meal I was serving to a friend and didn’t want it to flop. But Adam Grant’s observation got me thinking about other times I’ve let fear of failure or rejection get in my own way before.
Many of my loyal readers have been encouraging me to write a book for quite some time. Motivated by your vote of confidence, I started working on a book of humorous essays paired with cocktail recipes back in January – after talking about doing it for months.
After committing to my book club that I’d share some chapters with them in time for our April meeting, I was forced to put pen to paper in earnest. I pulled together three chapters at the last minute and shared them with the group. After that, I let the book fade into obscurity on my desktop as I poured my energy into my Virtual Happy Hour series on Instagram.
In August, I began working with a coach. The experience has lent an entirely new intentionality to my process, everything from my usual content creation to pitching brands and working on the book, now has a structure with goals and timelines.
With her help, I’ve increased my productivity and am now making more money off the blog than ever before (without bombarding you guys with pop-up ads on the blog, I might add). AND I sent off my complete book proposal and three chapters to a literary agent a week ago.
The moment I hit send on the email with my book materials enclosed, I was overcome with a simultaneous feeling of relief and a monsoon of anxiety. That fear of rejection or failure set in as soon I’d sent it off – would she hate it? Are my ideas good or worthy? Are my jokes funny?
I shared my irrational fears with a friend who had worked on a book proposal before and she reminded me that a) I’m not garbage, b) I should be proud of my accomplishments to date and my willingness to put myself out there, c) even if this agent takes a pass on the work, it’s not the end of the road and there will undoubtedly be growth and learning to be found in the experience.
So, please take this story of the gnocchi and the book proposal as a reminder that gnocchi that won’t float is not a reflection of your worth – it’s just one failure, keep chasing your dreams.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Brown Butter Sage Sauce
- 2 medium sweet potatoes about 2 cups mashed
- 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
- 1 large egg
- 2-3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 12 small sage leaves
- 1/2 cup Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese freshly grated
- 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly ground
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Pierce potatoes all over with a fork. Place potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes or until fork tender. When the sweet potatoes are cooked, slice them in half, allow to cool, and finely mash or puree them.
In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, ricotta, egg, salt, and 2 cups of the flour. Stir the mixture until just combined. If the dough seems wet, add an additional tablespoon of flour at a time, until it can be formed into a ball. The dough should be sticky.
Generously flour a clean counter and scrape the dough out onto it. Cut the dough into four equal pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into a rope about 1 inch thick and cut into bite size pieces. Repeat this process with the other pieces of dough and place the gnocchi on a baking sheet that has been dusted with flour. At this point, the gnocchi can be kept covered in the fridge for up to 1 day, and then boiled just before you are ready to eat. Or boiled right away.
In a large skillet, cook the butter with the sage until the butter is brown, fragrant and nutty, about 3 minutes. Add the simmered gnocchi and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle the gnocchi with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, crushed red pepper flakes and freshly ground pepper.