Mandioquinha and Saffron Gnocchi with Hearts of Palm and Sage Butter Sauce
These silky gnocchi are a Brazilian twist on a favorite recipe: instead of potatoes, Chef Barletti uses mandioquinha, also known as manioc or cassava, a starchy root used in many South American dishes. The gnocchi are drenched in an herb sauce and served with a garnish of sage leaves.
- Mandioguinha Gnocchi
- Mandioquinha - 1 pound (manioc; cassava; substitute: baby sweet potatoes), peeled and cubed
- Powdered saffron - 3 packets (about 1/3 ounce each)
- Whole Peppercorns - 2 tablespoons
- Cardamom pods - 3
- Egg Yolks - 2
- Parmesan cheese - 1/4 cup
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- All-Purpose Flour - 1 cup
- Olive Oil - 3/4 cup
- Chervil Sprig - 1, minced
- Flat parsley leaves - 2, minced
- Chives - 4 to 6, minced
- Hhearts of Palm - 4, julienned
- Fresh Sage leaves - 10
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Hot Water - 2 tablespoons
- Parmesan Cheese - 3 tablespoons
- Sage - 2 sprigs (optional: flash-fried)
To make the gnocchi: Peel and dice the mandioquinha. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Put the saffron, peppercorns, and cardamom pods in a small square of cheesecloth and tie into a bag; put in the boiling water. Cook 30 seconds, then add the mandioquinha. Cook until softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, then push through a fine-meshed sieve with the back of a large spoon.
With your hands, work the egg yolks, cheese, cayenne, and flour into the mandioquinha. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 8 to 10 times, until smooth. Gather into a ball and let rest 10 minutes. Cut the ball into thirds. Using your palms, roll each out into 1-inch diameter cylinder, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece across the tines of a fork to create the grooved, curved gnocchi shape. Set aside.
To prepare the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the hearts of palm. Toss to coat; brown quickly, then add the minced herbs and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add the sage leaves, butter, and water; swirl to blend. Set aside; keep warm.
To finish: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and add the gnocchi. Do not crowd the pot; work in batches if necessary. Let the gnocchi cook until they float to the top. Remove with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon and put in the pan with the sauce. Add the remaining cheese and toss until melted.
To serve: Mound half the gnocchi in each warmed serving bowl. Drizzle any remaining sauce over the gnocchi. Garnish each with a sage sprig.