Friday, March 13, 2009

Sweet Potato Dumplings

These lovely little dumplings might look harmless, but they are quite the gut-busters. Loosen your belts before this meal. But it is worth every decadent, delicious bite.

This is a southern rendition of gnocchi. It's made from gorgeously hued and almost desserty sweet potatoes, which turn a potentially ordinary dish into something magical.

I have never made gnocchi from scratch before, but I bought a potato ricer a while ago in case the opportunity ever presented itself. Well now that I've deflowered my potato ricer and made this dish, I think you're going to be seeing homemade gnocchi on this site again. And again. Making these dumplings was really fun and rewarding - I got to get my hands dirty, and eat a delicious meal. Isn't that what cooking is all about?

Sweet Potato Dumplings
serves 3
adapted from "Screen Doors and Sweet Tea"


1 pound sweet potatoes (one very large one should do)
3/4 to 1 cup white whole wheat flour
a pinch of nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (about 5 leaves)


1. Preheat toaster oven (or regular oven) to 375. Bake sweet potato, skin intact, for 30 minutes or until tender and easily pierced with a knife. Cool until you can handle it without burning yourself. Cut open the sweet potato and scoop out the flesh. Mash with a potato masher or pass through a potato ricer.

2. Combine sweet potato flesh with 3/4 cup flour, pinch of salt, and nutmeg. Stir well to combine - you might need to use your hands to finish the job. (Try it, it's fun). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly, adding additional flour until it is smooth and not too sticky.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

4. Cut dough in half. Roll out each half (with your hands, back and forth on the floured surface) to form a rope that is about 3/4 inch in diameter. Cut each rope into 3/4-inch segments. Press each segment gently with the back of a fork to make a pretty pattern, if you so desire.

5. Line a baking sheet with a clean towel and keep it handy. Put the dumplings carefully into the boiling water, in batches if necessary, and reduce the water to a simmer. Cook about 4 minutes, or until the dumplings rise to the top of the water. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon or mesh strainer, and place them gently on the towel-lined baking sheet.

6. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the butter, stirring occasionally, until light brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper, as well as the chopped sage. Add the dumplings, carefully stirring to coat with the butter, and cook until slightly brown, about 3 minutes. Spoon onto serving plates.

I haven't eaten anything quite this amazing in my brief forays to the south, but if it's out there I'd willingly go back. Although what am I saying; I can make it myself. Enjoy!