This Creamy Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Shrimp & Bacon is super cozy and comforting, and incredibly delicious! Homemade sweet potato gnocchi is tossed with shrimp, crispy bacon, and baby kale in a buttery, garlicky and rich white wine cream sauce. Serve it as a hearty holiday side, or as a main for a tasty weeknight dinner!
500 grams / 1.1 pounds Sweet Potatoes (any kind will work, I used Taiwanese sweet potatoes which were brown skinned with yellow flesh) – scrubbed and rinsed, pat-dried with paper towels
1 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus 1/8 to ¼ cup for the work surface
½ TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
½ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper
½ TSP ground Cinnamon
½ TSP ground Cayenne (optional)
1 large Egg
For the Shrimp:
1 TBLS Unsalted Butter
½ TBLS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
14–16 pieces Shrimp – peeled and deveined, rinsed thoroughly and pat-dried with paper towels
¼ TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
½ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste
2 TSP freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
2 Garlic cloves – finely minced
A splash of Dry White Wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
For the Bacon:
3 slices Bacon – chopped into bite sized strips (I used Oscar Mayer’s Naturally Hardwood Smoked Bacon)
For the Creamy White Wine Sauce:
1 TBLS Unsalted Butter
1 TBLS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Garlic cloves – finely minced
¼ Yellow Onion – finely minced
1.5 TBLS fresh Italian Parsley, plus more for garnish if desired – finely chopped
1 TBLS All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Dry White Wine
1.5 cups Whole Milk
1 TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
½ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste
½ TSP Garlic Powder
½ TSP Onion Powder
½ TSP Dried Thyme
½ TSP Oregano Flakes
¾ TSP ground Cayenne, to taste
½ TSP Crushed Red Pepper Chili Flakes, to taste
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan Cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top if desired
1.5 cups Baby Kale – washed and dried with paper towels/run through a salad spinner
For the Sweet Potato Gnocchi:
Rinse and scrub the sweet potatoes, then pat-dry with paper towels. Use a sharp knife or fork to pierce them all around, then wrap each potato in a damp paper towel and microwave for 10-12 minutes on high or until tender. (Alternatively, you can bake them in the oven at 200°C/400°F for 50- 60 minutes, or boil in a pot of water for about 30 minutes.)
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, halve the potatoes using a shark knife and scoop out the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. Then add the egg, ground cinnamon, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and ½ cup of flour. Start kneading to combine and gradually add the remaining ½ cup of flour until a dough forms. (Note: If the dough is too tough, sprinkle with a bit of water and continue kneading until a semi-soft dough forms – it shouldn’t be too soft and sticky, or too tough.) Roll the dough into a ball.
Divide the ball into two parts, then dust your work surface with 1/8 cup of flour. Grab one of the parts and roll into a long thin rope. Then dust the work surface with the remaining 1/8 cup of flour if needed and repeat with the other part of the dough. Use a knife to cut the rope into ¾ to 1-inch pieces. Then run each piece along the tines of the back of a fork to give each piece a corkscrew-like design.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi pieces and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until they float to the top. (You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your pot.) Drain into a colander over the sink. (I like to run water over them to prevent them from cooking further and sticking. But you can also lightly toss them with a bit of olive oil instead.)
(Note: Check out this tutorial on How to Make Sweet Potato Gnocchi for step-by-step photos. Be sure to check out the variations section in this post to see how you can switch up the taste of your sweet potato gnocchi.)
For the Bacon:
Cut the bacon slices into bite sized strips. In a large deep sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp and cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain off the excess grease and set aside. Discard and wipe out the drippings in the pan.
For the Shrimp:
Peel and devein the shrimp if needed, then rinse thoroughly and pat-dry with paper towels. Heat unsalted butter and extra virgin olive oil in a medium sized sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the shrimp, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, lemon juice, and sauté for a minute. Add garlic and a splash of dry white wine, give everything a good stir, then lower the heat to medium and cover the pan. Steam for 2-3 minutes. Then uncover the pan and switch off the heat. Set aside until needed.
For the Creamy Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Shrimp & Bacon:
Heat 1 tablespoon of the unsalted butter in the same large deep sauté pan you used to cook the bacon until it’s foaming. Add the sweet potato gnocchi pieces and spread evenly around the pan. Let them crisp up for a minute, and then gently sauté to crisp up all sides for 3-4 more minutes. Transfer the gnocchi pieces to a bowl or plate.
In the same pan, heat the remaining unsalted butter and extra virgin olive over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the fresh Italian parsley and sauté for another minute to combine.
Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute, then gradually pour in the dry white wine and continue whisking. Simmer until the mixture thickens and the wine sizzles out – about 1-2 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium and slowly pour in the milk while continuing to whisk. Add all of the spices & seasonings and stir, then add the freshly grated cheese. Mix until the cheese has fully melted and the sauce starts to thicken. Add the baby kale and toss for a minute until mostly wilted.
Add the cooked sweet potato gnocchi, shrimp, bacon, and toss for to combine. Cook for 2-4 minutes or until everything has heated through. Then, switch off the heat.
To Serve: Divide the Creamy Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Shrimp & Bacon evenly into plates or transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with extra freshly chopped parsley and sprinkle with more cheese if desired. Then serve immediately and enjoy!
Make ahead the Sweet Potato Gnocchi: You can make the sweet potato gnocchi a day to two months in advance. Once you make it, simply transfer the gnocchi pieces onto a tray and freeze until solid – this will take about an hour. Then transfer the frozen gnocchi pieces to a freezer friendly bag and freeze for up to two months. If making one to three days in advance, you can transfer the gnocchi pieces to an airtight container in layers and with sheets of parchment paper (nonstick cooking paper) in between of each layer. Then store in the fridge for two to three days. When you’re ready to make this dish, cook/boil the gnocchi as instructed. It may take an extra minute or two until they float to the top, but the texture and taste will still be good.
To make it vegetarian: Simply omit the shrimp and bacon. Feel free to load up the pasta with other veggies like broccoli and mushrooms to make it more substantial. Alternatively, you can use a plant-based meat product in place of the shrimp and bacon.
To make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free flour for the sweet potato gnocchi and creamy white wine sauce. Also, make sure that your cheese is GF certified. Most cheeses that are widely available are naturally gluten-free, but it’s best to double check.
Use different herbs: Feel free to swap the parsley or add other fresh herbs. Fresh mint, Italian basil, sage, and thyme would all work great in this dish!
To make it dairy-free: Use a dairy-free milk such as almond milk and dairy-free cheese such as almond cheese in place of the regular whole milk and cheese.
Make it vegan: Omit the shrimp and bacon, or use a plant-based meat product. Also, be sure to use vegan (dairy-free) milk and cheese.
Top with cheese and bake: You can transfer the Creamy Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Shrimp & Bacon to an ovenproof dish and top with mozzarella and/or extra Parmigiano Reggiano cheese if you like. Bake at 200°C/400°F for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and bubbly and has fully melted. Then transfer the dish to a cooling rack and allow it to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Use regular gnocchi: Instead of sweet potato gnocchi, you can use regular potato gnocchi – either homemade or store-bought – for this dish. You’ll need 1 pack or 500g regular gnocchi.
Use other seafood: Instead of shrimp, you’re welcome to use any other seafood you like such as mussels, clams, squid, etc. Shellfish will require a little more steaming time, so you should remove the shrimp and squid (if using) from the pan after they’ve just cooked through, and then cover the pan to steam the mussels and clams for a further 3-4 more minutes until the shells have opened. (Note: Discard any clams or mussels after this point if their shells are still closed tight. They are not suitable to eat.)
Use fish: Alternatively, you can pan-fry fish like salmon, halibut, cod, etc. and serve it on top of the gnocchi pasta dish. I highly recommend pan-fried cod fillet or steak. Lightly coat the cod in cornstarch and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Pan-fry it on both sides for 3-4 minutes in a bit of olive oil or unsalted butter, and drizzle a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice on the fish while it’s cooking. Then switch off the heat. Crown the creamy sweet potato gnocchi dish with the cod and serve!
If you have leftovers: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave for a minute or two, or until fully heated through.