roman gnocchi side dish

Sweet Potato & Sage Roman Gnocchi

gnocchi romaine

Sweet potato & sage gnocchi (Roman style)

As some of you may know, I’m married to a Frenchman but whether he’s a true Frenchman can be a bit of a debate.  He’s Corsican.  Although the island of Corsica officially belongs to France, their cuisine is more Italian in spirit.  More on that subject later…  In our house, we tend to eat a lot of pasta.  The children LOVE to get covered in flour making homemade tagliatelle: I prefer that the flour coats the pasta. 😉

This has to be another of my favourite Italian-style dishes.  We all know gnocchi as the round little potato dumplings but this version is baked in the oven, Roman-style. I found this recipe for Baked Butternut Squash Gnocchi by Jean-Christophe Novelli in a magazine ages ago and since then I’ve been playing around with it, as it’s so versatile:  in place of the butternut squash I’ve used pumpkin, parsnips and here I’ve used sweet potato.  They all work wonderfully.

In summer I’ve even tried this with roasted red peppers (skins removed.) It completely transforms this dish.  Serve it as bright red gnocchi with fish for a real treat.  Don’t forget you can also chop and change the herbs – with lemon thyme, basil and rosemary, depending on your accompaniment.

Serve this as a starter or a main course, top with some good melting cheese and finish off under the grill.  Serve with a rocket salad tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and toasted pine nuts.  You could use polenta instead of the semolina but I personally find the semolina is lighter.   Use wholemeal semolina, if you’re wanting to be particularly healthy.  I love serving this as a side dish (without the cheese topping) to accompany saltimbocca or roast chicken.

Serves 4 people as a main dish or 8 as a side dish or starter.
Adapted from a recipe by Jean-Christophe Novelli

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes + 40 minutes

2 sweet potatoes (about 550g), peeled & chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
4 sage leaves, finely chopped
100g semolina
50g  Parmesan cheese, grated (or grana padano)
65g butter, softened
3 large organic eggs
125ml carton crème fraîche
Fontina, gorgonzola or taleggio (good melting cheeses)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Throw the sweet potato, garlic and sage in a roasting tin.  Cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes. There’s no need to use oil if you cover with the foil.

    No need for oil since roast covered in foil 

  3. Whiz the potato, garlic and sage in a food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and add all the other ingredients.  Season to taste.
  4. Spread the mixture in a brownie tin lined with baking paper, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes (I use the roasting option on the oven).

    Spread the mixture in a brownie tin

  5. Cool in the tin then cut into squares, triangles or circles (circles are pretty but I prefer the squares as there’s no waste.)
  6. If serving as a main vegetarian dish or a starter, put the slices on a baking tray.  Cover with the cheese of your choice and grill until melted.
  7. We ate this at home thinking of Manuela’s event for the 150 years of the Unification of Italy at Manu’s Menu on 17 March but I didn’t get around to writing it up on the site.  Sorry, Manu!  Mieux vaut tard que jamais, as they say here (better late than never) 😉

roman gnocchi side dish

22 replies
  1. The Culinary Lens
    The Culinary Lens says:

    I am sorry to be so long coming over to check this out. After posting my request for links relating to my photo I was away and had computer issues.
    This is wonderful I can truly see using this on a restaurant menu.
    It looks like it sets a little like polents

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks for such lovely words. Yes, it’s like polenta but using the semolina makes it slightly lighter. I love how you can change the veg in it from season to season. I adored your photo of the lady in the window and all of the closed shutters. It reminded me of my Corsican mother-in-law, keeping the shutters closed in the summer to keep the cool in the house. 🙂

  2. Kimby
    Kimby says:

    Hello! I saw your link on The Culinary Lens — thanks for sharing this recipe for “the woman in the window.” I suffer from a serious lack of gnocchi; your Roman style version and alternate flavor combinations will definitely fill the void!

  3. Spice Sherpa
    Spice Sherpa says:

    Love your gnocci recipe–different yet traditional at the same time. I think your husband is clearly Corsican. Once I hiked across the island, half of it tout seule. I ended up at a hostel of sorts–I was the only guest and it was run by a family. We got along great–they wanted me to stay for the rest of the summer! The meals they prepared were simple but magnificent in terms of quality and freshness. Thanks for letting me relive some of those moments with your post. 🙂

  4. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    Oooh this looks gorgeous! I like the idea of rolling it out and cutting into squares/triangles. I had potato & sage gnocchi the other week, but I bet sweet potato & sage would be tremendous!

  5. The Mistress of Spices
    The Mistress of Spices says:

    This sounds like an amazing gnocchi, Jill! I love the combination of sweet potato and sage. I should learn more about Corsican cuisine (as well as visit Corsica)…sounds like something that I would enjoy very much with the Italian influence!

  6. Choclette
    Choclette says:

    This sounds like my sort of dish and a lot easier to make than boiled gnocchi. It sounds so good in fact, it’s made me hungry all over again and I’ve already had supper! Sage goes particularly well with squash I’ve found so would be interesting to try with sweet potato.

  7. Manu
    Manu says:

    Ohhhh Jill!!!! This would have been perfect for the event. You know what? I won’t be able to link it with the photo, but I can link it on the page of the event as a “normal link” to your recipe! I just thought of it! 🙂

    I have never eaten “gnocchi alla romana” made with sweet potatoes but they sound (and look) divine! 🙂 Great recipe my friend! Thanks!

  8. sarah
    sarah says:

    Yum! I tried a recipe for sweet potato gnocci awhile back that was just so-so but I really loved the concept. I’m definitely looking forward to trying out your recipe!!

  9. Amy
    Amy says:

    This looks wonderful! I love how they don’t have to be shaped, just baked in a pan! Makes it so much easier and less intimidating! I am going to have to try this :)!

  10. Hester Casey - Alchemy
    Hester Casey - Alchemy says:

    Thanks for introducing me to a whole different style of gnocchi. Can’t wait to try them as I’m rather partial to gnocchi. Wonderful suggestions too on how to transform them entirely by using a different veg or herb.



Thank you for taking the time to comment. Your email address will not be published.
I love hearing from you about the recipes, the articles and your ideas for future posts.
Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *