It’s still ulu season and gnocchi is the perfect medium to celebrate this nutritious, flavorful, sustainable food. Farmer’s April and Moloa’a Organica usually have ulu at the Saturday and Thursday Kilauea farmer’s markets and Kauai Kunana Dairy usually has them at the Saturday Hanalei and Tuesday Waipa farmer’s markets. Get them while they last!
Gnocchi, a potato and flour based dumpling is considered to be the precursor to pasta. It’s beginnings are unknown but it is most likely to have Middle Eastern origins dating back to the Roman Empire. Historically known as peasant food, gnocchi has developed it’s own regional uniqueness throughout many countries.
Ulu is the perfect potato substitute for making gnocchi. It’s starchy constitution requires less flour than potatoes for an easy to roll, non-sticky dough. It’s mild and neutral flavor allow for a variety of different herb combinations such as sage, thyme, basil, lemon basil, marjoram, parsley, chervil and oregano. All are compatible with the dumpling adding to it’s uniqueness and versatility. Another great reason to grow lots of fresh herbs in the garden! Farmer April sells fresh herbs and Robin of “Heaven on Earth Organics” sells herb starts. One stop shopping at the Saturday Kilauea farmer’s market!
Gnocchi is surprisingly easy to make. The goal is to get a balanced ulu to flour ratio. This is also the case when using potatoes. Too much flour will make the gnocchi doughy and lack flavor. A larger ulu will yield 6-8 cups of mashed ulu. I start with using 1 cup of gluten free flour adding more incrementally as needed. For a medium size ulu, the yield will be 4 cups and I start with 1/2 cup flour.
Ulu Gnocchi Recipe
1 firm ulu
1/2-1 cup gluten free flour
2 egg yolks
Remove skin from ulu. Cut in quarters and remove core. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Boil for 20-30 minutes in salted water until soft and easy to mash. Drain and mash. Let cool to room temperature. Whisk egg yolks, add to ulu and mix. Add 1/2 cup flour and incorporate. Knead dough until it forms a ball that is neither sticky nor dry adding more flour if needed.
Divide dough into 4 sections. On a floured surface roll out each section to 3/4 inch.
Cut into one inch pieces and pinch gnocchi in center to create an indentation.
Boil gnocchi in salted water for 2 minutes. Do not overcrowd them. In a 2 quart saucepan I boiled 20 at a time.
Removed cooked gnocchi from water and let cool. Once cooled, saute gnocchi until golden brown with the aromatics and herbs of your choice. For this recipe I sauteed carrots, kale, julienned green beans, scallion, garlic, sage and thyme and added fresh tarragon and parmesan cheese at the end. I browned the gnocchi first, by itself, in butter. Overcrowding it with the vegetables will steam them instead of browning them. I then added the herbs and vegetables. The gnocchi is also delicious with pesto, tomato sauce, sausage, or eggs. I love this dish because there are so many Kauai grown vegetables that compliment it such as kale, chard, carrots, beans, eggplant, fennel, broccoli, spinach, cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, and fresh herbs. The variety and abundance of what grows here reminds me to be grateful for simple things. Malama Kauai!