Words and images by Jodi.
In my never-ending quest for cooking competency, I continue to try new dishes. And sometimes fail at new dishes. A couple of weeks ago, I was excited to try a recipe for yam gnocchi, as I’d just had a couple of bags included in my weekly organics delivery. Sadly, the mixture of the steamed yams, flour, eggs, and salt never became dough-like and remained a gooey, sticky mess. I added flour until I ran out and then I found some rice flour and added that too. Nothing doing. This gunk was not going to stick together, no matter what. So, the yam gnocchi became “yam cakes.” The kids were enthusiastic, at least until they realized there would be no syrup. The thrill was gone and only a couple of bites were actually eaten. I put some plain yogurt on mine and soldiered through, but it was no gnocchi.
Being a stubborn sort (and still having a bag of yams left in the fridge), I refused to give up and went on the search for another recipe. I vowed to try my hand at yam gnocchi again. It would not get the best of me!
First and foremost, I decided against steaming the yams. I think that the steamer made the yams too moist and boiling was probably the way to go. The first time I had steamed them because 1) I’m a bit lazy and 2) I’m easily distracted, it’s nice to flick on the steamer and go do something else for 15 minutes. This time round Dlisted was going to have to wait while I boiled some yams. I could catch up on Lindsay and Kimye later.
The yam gnocchi recipe I found was pretty casual, which is what I needed. It told me to add a certain amount of flour, but maybe not that much and to see if it sticks together and, if not, add an egg. Luckily, it did stick together and float, so no egg needed. Hooray! One less step for me to do (I mentioned I’m a bit lazy, right?).
I laid them all out really purty-like and pressed the tines of a fork on the top to capture sauce and make them look legit. Next time I will put a bit more elbow grease into rolling the strips thinner, because these gnocchi were definitely a mouthful. But a mouthful of tastiness!
Pretty good, if I do say so myself. My one-year-old ate more than my husband and I combined and even my pickiest eater ate a whole two. A rare success in my kitchen. Hooray! I conquered the lowly yam, wrestling it into submission. I can keep my chin up this week and forge ahead with ever-more challenging recipes.
Inspired by localfoods.about.com
Time: About 45 minutes
- 2 lbs. yams* (I used 8 smaller spuds)
- 1 Tbsp. salt (for cooking water)
- 2 – 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling and shaping
Peel yams and cut into large, similarly sized chunks. Put yam pieces in a large pot and cover with water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Cook until tender. Drain thoroughly and return yam chunks to the empty pot.
Mash ‘em. The quickest way to do this is with a ricer, but a large fork or potato masher works as well.
Stir in flour 1/2 cup at a time, until a dough forms. You may or may not need the final 1/2 cup. The dough will be very soft.
Divide dough into four even sections. Working with one at a time, dump dough onto a well-floured surface and roll into a 1-inch-thick snake. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and place on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Gently press a fork onto each piece. Note: At this point you can freeze any gnocchi you don’t plan to use the same day. Cook frozen gnocchi just as fresh – they will just take a bit longer to float to the top of the cooking water.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add gnocchi to hot water in three batches, to avoid crowding. Once gnocchi floats to the top (about 3 minutes), remove from water with a slotted spoon. Keep cooked gnocchi tossed in a bit of butter in a warm oven while you cook the remaining gnocchi. Serve with butter and Parmesan, browned butter and sage, or your favorite pasta sauce.
* According to bon appétit magazine, Yam and sweet potatoes are not quite the same thing. Yams are starchier and drier, and long and skinny, sweet potatoes are shaped more like potatoes, sometimes with tapered ends. Although my delivery was labelled “yam”, there is a high likeliness that I was actually cooking with “sweet potatoes”.Add to favorites