A sort of pasta for potato lovers – who doesn’t love these soft little pillows of deliciousness? Gnocchi have a reputation for being a little tricky to make, so with not a single nonna to call upon for help we roped in chef Lapo Magni of Lapo’s Kitchen in Cape Town to share his expertise and special recipe for making the best version.

Born and raised in the beautiful city of Florence, Chef Lapo Magni learned the secrets of traditional Tuscan-Italian cooking at his mother’s knee, so who better to lead the way.

Usually made with potato, flour and eggs gnocchi can also be made with semolina flour, as they are in Rome. In Lapo’s recipe the potato is substituted for sweet potato, a vegetable now in season and available in abundance. Sweet potato have a creamy texture and lends a sweet-spicy flavour that makes it ideal for this savoury dish.

Sweet potato gnocchi with burnt sage butter sauce

Serves 4

For the gnocchi:

  • 800g sweet potatoes
  • 200g flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 40g finely grated Parmesan cheese · pinch of salt and pepper

For the sauce:

  • 100g butter, chopped
  • 20 sage leaves
  • 80g Parmesan cheese, finely grated · salt and pepper

Place water in a saucepan, bring to the boil, add the whole sweet potatoes, skin on, and boil on medium until completely soft when pierced with a knife. Drain and let cool, peel the sweet potatoes and place in a mixing bowl together with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well to combine to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a surface sprinkled with flour, and roll into 30cm long ropes of about 2cm in diameter. Cut into 2cm long lengths.

To make the sauce heat a pan to medium heat and add the butter. Cook until melted and add the sage leaves. Cook the butter and sage leaves, swirling the pan often until the butter bubbles up and starts foaming. Keep cooking and swirling until the foam starts making smaller and smaller bubbles. When the foam is as fine as frothed milk and the butter has turned a nutty brown remove from the heat. Season to taste.

Cook the gnocchi, in batches, in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon, add to the pan with the burnt sage butter sauce and toss to coat. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.


Lapo opens his home to small groups of diners who come to enjoy beautiful meals that place the spotlight on fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from passionate small-scale producers. If you are keen to try chef Lapo’s delicious cuisine first-hand a place at his table can be booked exclusively through Eatsplorer here; in the meantime, try some of Chef Lapo’s recipe yourself.

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Production: Eatsplorer | Photography: Kleinjan Groenewald