Feeling a bit in the doldrums these days? Could you use good a pick-me-up? It might be time to indulge in some comfort food — particularly some super colorful superfood comfort from a winter farmers market. We’re talking about making sweet potato gnocchi.
Stick with us. These scratch-made dumplings are actually very simple to put together and don’t require special skills or equipment. The process can be fun, like playing with clay or playdough, and could even involve a few junior chef helpers. You can make excellent gnocchi from both orange and purple sweet potato types—or go big and make both for a vibrant, jewel-toned plate. Look for orange sweet potatoes from Sleight Family Farm at ASAP Farmers Market and purple Okinawa sweet potatoes from Lee’s One Fortune Farm at both ASAP Farmers Market and River Arts District Farmers Market.
First, cook a pound of sweet potatoes until tender. You can roast them whole in the oven (about an hour at 350 degrees) or microwave them (prick with a fork, wrap in a damp paper towel, and microwave on high for about 7 to 10 minutes). Let them cool just until you can handle them, then scoop out the flesh and mash it. You can do this with a potato ricer, if you have one, but a fork also works. You don’t want to overwork them, so don’t use a food processor or blender.
Place the mashed sweet potato onto a floured work surface. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and grated nutmeg. Gradually work in flour until you form a smooth dough that doesn’t stick to your hands. A pound of orange sweet potatoes will take 1 to 2 cups of flour. Purple sweet potatoes are drier and will take less. Once the dough is formed, stop working it. Divide the dough and cover half with a bowl or towel to keep it from drying out while you work.
Roll the dough into several 1-inch-thick ropes (the length doesn’t matter). With a knife, cut the ropes into 3/4-inch pieces and transfer to a floured baking sheet or towel. You can roll your gnocchi against the tines of a fork to create a ridged surface, or leave them smooth. (The groves are meant to trap extra sauce, but the result will be delicious either way.) Don’t worry if your gnocchi are imperfectly shaped—that’s just part of their rustic charm. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add gnocchi and cook until they float to the top. Remove them with a slotted spoon or strainer. Place them on a buttered or oiled platter, tossing to coat. From here you can grate a bit of cheese over them and top with nuts or herbs and serve. Or you can take a second step of sautéing them in a large skillet in browned butter or olive oil until golden. Serve them on their own, or combine them with sautéed kale, spinach, or Chinese broccoli.
Craving gnocchi now, but know you don’t have the time to prepare them? Pick up premade gnocchi in a variety of flavors, including sweet potato, from Rio Bertolini’s pasta at ASAP Farmers Market. Same comfort, less time commitment.
At farmers markets right now you’ll also apples, turnips, carrots, radishes, salad mixes, mushrooms, and much more. In addition to produce, markets vendors have meat, fish, bread, rice, prepared foods, fermented products, baked treats, and much more. Farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region, even in the winter. You can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.