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Posted on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

Gnocchi with creamy sweet potato sauce - no marshmallows required

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

There are all sorts of odd food holidays, and today's honorary occasion — National Cook a Sweet Potato Day — has to be fairly close to the top on that list.

But since sweet potatoes are so nutritious — high levels of vitamin C, potassium, and beta-carotene combined with a low glycemic index — no one should argue with some incentive to eat them more often. They're not just for Thanksgiving, and they don't need to be served with marshmallows on top!

I'm not sure what inspired this dish, which features gnocchi ([nYO-kee] — potato dumplings) served with a creamy sweet potato sauce. The notion simply popped into my head, so that's what I made — I have no other explanation.

It's remarkably rich and delicious, but not heavy. Its vibrant color is particularly appreciated in the midst of winter's dreariness, while its warmth and comfort provide sustenance. All in all, a rousing success!

Gnocchi with Creamy Sweet Potato Sauce

1 half-pound red garnet sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Flip Flop wines Pinot Grigio)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound whole wheat gnocchi
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Place sweet potato cubes into a medium saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil, then cook over medium-high heat for 25 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender. Drain water. Return sweet potatoes to the saucepan and mash them roughly.

Turn heat to low. Whisk in butter, milk, wine, salt, pepper and nutmeg; cook, stirring occasionally, while preparing gnocchi.

Bring a pot of water to boiling; add gnocchi and cook according to package directions. Drain.

Place gnocchi onto a serving platter, and spoon sweet potato sauce over them. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.

Serves 2-4.

To read about my adventures judging the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre's 3rd Annual Chili Cook-Off, go to my blog, Food Floozie, and read today's post ....

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Mary Bilyeu writes about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions or comments or suggestions:

You should also visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — on which she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related.

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.



Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 12:27 a.m.

Looking at the list of ingredients and their amounts, what you have is mashed sweet potatoes over gnocchi. I would not call the sweet potatoes a sauce, but rather a starch. The amount of liquid would be quickly absorbed into the potatoes making them into a one lump mass.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 7:58 p.m.

I'm with you on this one, Mary. I think the primary reason the dish photographs poorly for some is the color of the whole-wheat gnocchi which has (as all whole-wheat pasta does) a brownish-gray color. Nonetheless, while pasta made with refined flour might &quot;look&quot; better, I know it for its high-glycemic, low nutritive characteristics, so whole-wheat (or other whole-grain) pasta is always my first choice when available. And, as you note, sweet potatoes are highly nutritious (see <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> for more details). I agree with you that the combination of the whole-wheat pasta and sweet potatoes is an interesting one. I look forward to trying it myself. I applaud your attempts at innovation in the kitchen, and the practicality of your recipes. Thanks!

Mary Bilyeu

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

Thank you so much for your sweetness - it is truly greatly appreciated! I almost never eat white pasta, white bread, or refined carbs (my sweet tooth being an exception, though I still like to make treats with whole wheat pastry flour). Sometimes, people just have odd cravings ... what can I say??? This dish is the result of that. I believe in offering authentic photos, rather than ones that have been tinkered with; I want people to see precisely what a dish will look like, not wonder what they did wrong if their effort doesn't compare to the enhanced picture ....


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

This looks and sounds absolutely starchy and revolting. I enjoy your recipe section but this one looks and sounds like something the cat threw up. I love sweet potatoes, but over potato pasta!! Ugh! (I KNOW this is subjective!)

Mary Bilyeu

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

Good looking food does, indeed, photograph well; but some of the most delicious foods are simply not supermodels. I apologize if I misinterpreted your comment; but I took the statement &quot;I also find that the ingredients are definitely out of the mainstream ...&quot; to mean that recipes offered either involve unusual ingredients or are cost-prohibitive, so I was replying to that. My background is in cooking contests; in order to win, it was essential to offer recipes that people from Hawaii to Nebraska to Virgina could make, with universally accessible ingredients, and I strive to still utilize that philosophy.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:23 p.m.

I'm sorry to have put you on the defensive. Good looking food does photograph well and entices the reader to want to make the recipe. The photo looks like it was taken with a cellphone, i.e. low pixels. As for the recipe; I make my sweet potatoes in a similar way, but adding wine and pouring them over pasta stuffed with white potatoes just seems silly. I never suggested that good food needs to be expensive or &quot;sought&quot; out, just appetizing.

Mary Bilyeu

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

Some foods just don't photograph well; my blogging friends and I are all in agreement about meatloaf, for example! Just because a dish isn't photogenic doesn't mean that it's any less wonderful. However, I've received compliments today for the brightness of this photo and how rich the sauce looks, so I'm sorry that it isn't to everyone's taste. It is appreciated when people can offer constructive statements rather than merely insults. I strive to keep my recipes as user-friendly as possible, both in terms of cost and accessibility of ingredients, because I don't want to be exclusive. I own no fancy kitchen toys, either, so my recipes are ones that anyone can make without a shopping spree at Williams-Sonoma. I don't think it's fair to expect busy readers to schlep to several markets to find ingredients; I just want people to eat and enjoy their meals ... :)


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

I have to agree that the photo looks extremely unappetizing. I find that's food photos are frequently unattractive. I also find that the ingredients are definitely out of the mainstream in my opinion. The Ann Arbor News had wonderful Food Sections. The food looked and tasted great. I'm sorry, I have felt this for a very long time about the current food section.

Mary Bilyeu

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

While there are many who eat low-carb diets, there are also many people who do carb-loading for whom this recipe would be perfect. This dish is very nutritious and it was delicious, too. Perhaps you shouldn't judge without trying it ....