Sweet potatoes, in all their beautiful hues, have earned their place on the autoimmune diet plate, as a valuable anti-oxidant food brimming with Vitamins A and Potassium and Vitamins C, Calcium and Magnesium to boot.
In fact, so much so that consumption of sweet potatoes has swelled in the USA by a steady 6% per year since 2000!
So what earns the sweet potato the crown over the regular spud?
Interestingly, although similar in appearance, botanically regular and sweet potatoes are only distantly related. Regular potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) belong to the Solanaceae family, there are around 5,000 varieties worldwide.
Potatoes are related to nightshades such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant which contain toxic alkaloid anti-nutrients, which may contribute to pain and inflammation, a big reason this group is generally avoided on an auto immune protocol.
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are the large tuberous roots of the Convolvulaceae family with flowering morning glory vines. Often confused as being one and the same, yams are from the Dioscorea family and are in fact completely unrelated to sweet potatoes!
Is it a yam, or a Sweet Potato?
A true yam is starchy and dry, with a fibrous, scaly skin, doesn’t sound all that appealing, right? Apparently, the confusion arose from the slave-era south, where as staple food sweet potatoes where dubbed ‘yams’ from the African word ‘Nyami’ which means ‘to eat’.
It’s not uncommon to find sweet potatoes labelled as yams in the supermarket, or the opposite, so be sure to know what you are buying!
Nutrient wise, the sweet potato wins over the regular potato hands down, and also is considered to be a healthier option as it is higher in fiber and has a lower glycemic response. Don’t forget, however, that this is still a starchy carbohydrate and best enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced meal.
Royal in Color and Nutrients
On research, I discovered there are actually hundreds of types of sweet potatoes, ranging in hue from white, buttercup yellow to deep orange and the rich royal purple.
The gorgeous jewel color is from the phytochemical athocyanin, which have been shown in epidemiological studies to reduce cardiovascular disease, improve visual function and boost immunity.
These beauties inspired me to create a vibrant dish to celebrate the arrival of spring; purple sweet potato gnocchi with tender spring vegetables!
A visually stunning dish, these purple sweet potatoes are brimming with vital nutrients, accompanied by spring vegetables.
For the Gnocchi:
1 pound Purple Sweet Potatoes
3/4 cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (plus a little more for handling)
1 tsp. Savory Spice Store Barnegat Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp. Salt
For the Spring Vegetables:
1 stick Grassfed Butter
2 cloves Garlic, smashed and finely minced
2 small Shallots, minced
2 large Sage Leaves, fine chiffonade
1/2 cup Thin Stemmed Asparagus, julienne cut
1/2 cup small Zucchini, julienne cut
1/2 cup Young Carrots, julienne cut
1/2 cup fresh Peas, julienne cut
6 large Basil Leaves, fine chiffonade, plus sprigs
1/2 tsp. Savory Spice Store Hidden Cove Lemon Spice
For the Gnocchi:
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Wash the potatoes, pierce each one a few times with a fork, place on a roasting pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes (depending on size), until they are soft and collapsed.
While this is cooking prepare the rest of the gnocchi set up, and prepare the sauce.
Blend the flour and seasonings together.
Allow to cool enough to handle, slice open and scoop out the flesh.
Work the sweet potato through a potato ricer, or mash with a fork.
Dust a cleaned counter surface with a little flour, and place the sweet potato on the counter. Sprinkle with half the flour and begin gently folding it in while the sweet potato is warm.
Add more flour, a little at a time, until the dough is no longer very sticky.
Roll into a large log, and cut into quarters with a pastry cutter.
Roll each piece into a smaller log, about 1 inch thick and cut into smaller ¾ to 1” pieces with the pastry cutter.
Prepare a baking sheet lined with a towel or flexible cutting mat. Fill a pot with 5 quarts of salted water and bring to a simmering boil.
Form the gnocchi; use the side of a box grater, a butter paddle or a fork, dip the end pieces in flour and roll off the utensil of choice to form the dumplings; place on the prepared tray.
Lift and bring together the corners of the towel or mat, and gently drop the gnocchi into the boiling water. Cook until the dumplings float to the top, two to three minutes.
Retrieve with a slotted spoon or strainer, and fold with the sauce.
Serve immediately, garnish with a little basil chiffonade and optional grated parmesan.
For the Sauce:
Heat a large pan over medium high heat, add a little butter, the shallots and carrots and sauté for around five minutes.
Add the sage, garlic, zucchini an asparagus and sauté until the vegetables are ‘al dente’, tender but still firm.
Add the peas and seasoning, along with the rest of the butter. Sauté a minute or two, add the cooked gnocchi and gently fold in.
Making sweet potato gnocchi is a little trickier than regular, as the sweet potato is a little stickier. I used all purpose gluten free flour for my recipe, the amount of flour needed will depend on the type and age of sweet potato used.
The gnocchi can be prepared and rest at room temperature lightly covered up to two hours, or frozen.
Prep Time:30 hours
Cook Time:60 hours
For a great presentation cut the vegetables in uniform julienne style.
A potato ricer is the best way to uniformly mash the sweet potato, if you don’t have one a fork or potato masher will do, be sure not to overwork them, or the texture will be gluey.
Sprinkle a little flour onto the work surface and form the sweet potato into a rough ball, sprinkle more flour on top and begin gently folding in in.
A pastry cutter is a useful kitchen item to have on hand for this task.
A butter paddle is on my wish list, to roll the gnocchi shapes, a fork work just fine too.
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