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Sweet potato gnocchi puts plants first on your plate

Gretchen McKay
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For this recipe, I used 00 flour, an Italian-milled flour made for pasta making.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

2 medium sweet potatoes

2 to 21/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2/3 cup whole-milk ricotta

1 large egg, whisked

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

10-12 large sage leaves

4 cups baby spinach

1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more as needed

1/3 cup unsalted, dry-roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Black pepper, as needed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with foil and a layer of coarse salt. (Salt will draw out additional water.) Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork several times and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, or until potatoes are soft and tender. Slice potatoes in half and let them cool, then mash or rice the flesh and discard skins.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add mashed sweet potatoes, ricotta and egg and mix until a dough forms. You may need to use your hands.

Transfer dough to a generously floured work surface and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope, about 3/4-inch thick. Cut each rope into bite-size pieces, and either roll on a gnocchi board or on the tines of a fork to create ridges. Set aside.

Bring large pot of water to boil.

Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Once butter begins to bubble, 1 to 2 minutes, add sage leaves and fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until crispy, lowering heat if butter starts to get too brown. Remove from pan.

Whisk constantly until butter develops a nutty aroma and brown bits on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Pour all brown butter into a small bowl except for 1 tablespoon.

Heat the reserved tablespoon of brown butter in the same pan over medium heat. Add spinach and saute 1 minute, until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Add gnocchi to boiling water, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until they float to the top. Drain and immediately add them to the pot with spinach and pour in the remaining brown butter. Toss to coat, then add Parmesan and hazelnuts, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with fried sage leaves and extra Parmesan on top.

Serves 4-6.

— “Eat More Plants” by Molly Krebs (Page Street, August 2019, $22)