Peasant-ly Pleasing GF Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Most of the types of foods that we eat come from the need to feed a family on the cheap. Think pancakes. Pancakes were not a culinary school creation but rather a solution to feeding many mouths with the ingredients at the ready from the farm. Flour, eggs, milk and butter were staples available to almost anyone at a thrifty nickel or two. All over the globe you will find cultural eats that started as peasant food. Let's go to Italy…
Gnocchi (N'YAW,key), is a little pillowy dumpling that fed many an Italian family with only the basics. Now enjoyed for its satisfying heartiness and texture as well as for being comfort food at its best, Gnocchi has earned its own special day in many Italian regions. Visit a restaurant on a Thursday and the special of the day will most likely be a gnocchi dish. Thursday is coming, so let's get busy.
You most likely follow this blog because you too, like to put your own nutritional spin on things. So of course we are not just going to make regular potato gnocchi. We also don't want you to fear that this is in any way complicated. With a pinch of planning, this is easier than making cookies.
Sweet potatoes are an orange or cream fleshed tuber that have a slightly sweet flavour. The orange sweet potato is often referred to as a yam in order to differentiate between the white and the cream fleshed varieties. However, yams are actually a different tuber all together, from Asia and Africa in fact, with a thick black, almost bark-like skin.
Orange fleshed sweet potatoes are wildly high in vitamin A and in a one cup serving where the tuber was baked and mashed, there is a crazy 7 grams of fibre and 4 grams of protein. The glycemic load of the sweet potato is almost half of a regular potato keeping blood sugars more stable.
Nutritional yeast flakes are just that - little flakes of nutrition! This cheesy tasting, inactive yeast is usually grown on molasses and contains huge amounts of B vitamins, including B12. It is also a great source of protein, magnesium, fibre and zinc. Not to be confused with Brewer's Yeast or Torula yeast.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi Serves 4-6
Equivalent to 2 cups of roasted & mashed organic orange fleshed sweet potato, cooked as per the instructions below (best done ahead of time so the flesh is all cooled - this is the "pinch of planning" part)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp quality sea or rock salt
2 cups GF Namaste Perfect Flour Blend, plus 1/2-1 cup more for dusting (another brand of GF flour will most likely be fine but this one is, well, perfect and GMO & corn-free)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
Because your sweet potato is organic (see note below about organic food), just roast it right in the skin to save the time of peeling it. When it is all roasted, the skins will just easily slip off. To roast, first give it a scrub, poke it with a knife a few times so that steam can escape and wrap it in foil. Place it in the oven with other things that are cooking or even in the toaster oven at about 350F for about an hour. If your potato has a really thick girth, you can cut it in half or thirds before wrapping in foil to reduce the cooking time. Make sure it is done by checking that it is nice and soft, right to the centre. Let it cool. This part can be done up to 3 days ahead of time. Just wrap the cooled potato and put in the fridge until you are ready to get your gnocchi on.
For the gnocchi, place your roasted sweet potato (popped out of the skins), eggs and seasonings in the blender and puree until smooth (it will go from mash to silky). You might have to pulse it a bit to get it all smooth. Scrape your blender into a bowl and add your flour and nutritional yeast. Mix with a sturdy spoon until just combined. It gets too sticky if you over stir.
Turn out the dough onto a large piece of floured parchment and knead it for about 30 seconds with some of the extra flour until it is smooth and less sticky. Then, using a knife, divide it into 4 equal parts. Take one of those 4 pieces and, using more flour if needed, roll it out into a long snake (about 2 feet long). Then take a knife and cut it into 1 inch little dumplings. You can squish them with a fork or leave them as is. You are the master of your own gnocchi! Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Repeat with each of the other 3 pieces. Now you have choices.
You can cook them right now (see below), save them until dinner time or freeze them for another time. To save them for a few hours until dinner, just cover them with a clean dish towel and place them in the fridge. To freeze for another time, just place the whole cookie sheet in the freezer and when they are frozen through, put them in a freezer bag or container of choice and leave them in the freezer until you are ready to use them. Freezing them on the cookie sheet first both keeps their shape and ensures that they are not stuck together. If you are only feeding yourself or a couple of people, just cook what you plan to use that day and freeze the rest for another time.
Whenever you are ready to get eating, boil a large pot of salted water, gently place the gnocchi in (careful of splashes) and let it get boiling again (if cooking from frozen, no need to defrost). They only take a couple of minutes or less so stay close by because over cooked gnocchi is well, yucky). As soon as they rise to the top, they are ready and you can just remove them with a slotted spoon. Give the bottom a bit of a stir to make sure none are stuck. Done! Gnocchi can be topped with a simple marinara sauce, some olive oil or butter and fresh sage or herbs of choice, or you can get fancier and do a hearty sausage style rustic sauce, cream and vegetables or even a baked version similar to lasagna.
This recipe can also be doubled so that you have extra in the freezer for another Thursday. They are also very thermos worthy. Just save some uncooked morsels for the morning and boil them up as per the cooking instructions. Place them, with their sauce, in a preheated thermos and they will have the same great texture at noon. Enjoy!
Notice we said organic sweet potato. If you would like to see an interesting video that illustrates so clearly how much more alive good quality organic produce is, check out this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exBEFCiWyW0.
Posted by: Amy Buckman Community Ambassador, Calgary Amaranth Stores