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Arts & Life

Need A New Sweet Potato Recipe For Your Thanksgiving Table? Try Gnocchi

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

There are some big questions out there this week before Thanksgiving. Will the U.S. and Iran work out a nuclear deal? Will the courts rule that ObamaCare is illegal? And this...

JULIA DELLA CROCE: Well, what else can you do with sweet potatoes?

SIEGEL: Ah, yes. Sweet potatoes. Funny you should ask because we have an option you should consider - a second helping pulled and reheated from our Found Recipes archives.

CROCE: This is Julia Della Croce. I'm a food writer and cookbook author and expert on Italian cooking. And I'm here to tell you about a new dish that I invented this year -purple sweet potato gnocchi.

SIEGEL: OK. Let's stop and back up.

CROCE: Purple sweet potato gnocchi.

SIEGEL: And let's break this down. Gnocchi are Italian dumplings.

CROCE: There are many different kinds of gnocchi. Sometimes they're made with squash. Sometimes they're made with semolina. Sometimes they're made with some stale bread. But a large category of gnocchi are made with potatoes.

SIEGEL: Often with Yukon, Gold or Russet potatoes, unless you take a page out of Julia Della Croce's cookbook. She has been using sweet potatoes for her gnocchi for years. Her dumplings are sweet. They're served with butter and almond pesto sauce. And for 27 years, they were a lovely shade of orange - except this year. This year, Julia Della Croce's sweet potato gnocchi went purple.

CROCE: I discovered a new sweet potato. It's called the Stokes Purple. It was introduced into the market apparently a couple of years ago. So gorgeous and the most sugary sweet potato I have ever tasted. So I thought, OK, these will make the ideal gnocchi because they're very dry, which means that they'll take in less flour, which means that they will be much lighter than any other kind of potato gnocchi. And so I experimented with it. And sure enough, these Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes made the lightest, most beautiful, indigo, blue, purple dumpling.

To make gnocchi, it's exactly quite simple. After the potatoes are roasted, mash them up really well either through a potato ricer or even with a fork. Add the orange zest. And then you add as much flour as the potato will take until you form a dough that's not sticky. You roll it out into long cords. You cut them into very small pieces about three quarters of an inch wide. You get your water boiling rapidly. You dump the gnocchi into the boiling water. And they take about a minute to float to the surface - no time at all. As soon as they float to the surface, you scoop them up, and you put them in a waiting warm dish with melted butter, scatter your roasted nuts on top. And that's it. Now, don't worry if you can't find the Stokes Purple Sweet Potato. It's available in specialty markets, and you can find it online. But you can use the traditional orange-fleshed sweet potato just as well. And it will be just as good.

SIEGEL: That's Julia Della Croce. And you can get a glimpse of that gorgeous, indigo sweet potato and her step-by-step guide for making that gnocchi at our Found Recipes page at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.