Purple Yam Gnocchi

Pablo Picasso had his Blue Period, and I guess for me, the last couple of weeks have been my Purple Period. Luckily however, my monochromatic muse was not inspired by someone’s suicide or large quantities of absinthe.

Unlike Ol’ Pablo, my inspiration came on much happier terms. Using the purple Ube yam of the Philippines, I have made Purple Ube Pancakes, Ube Ice Cream, and now, Purple Yam Gnocchi.

(On second thought, maybe absinthe did play a role in these seemingly odd creations of mine.)

Anyhoo, whether I was lucid or not is besides the point people! I have come to the conclusion that Ube is a very versatile ingredient–lending its mildly sweet flavors to desserts and savory dishes alike.  That’s right. Savory! (Egads man, he has lost his mind!)

For my latest (I’ve purposefully delayed posting this so as not to oversaturate your eyeballs with violet visions) and probably last (I’m all purpled out) Ube recipe, I used a couple of purple yams that I found at my Asian grocery store.


Technically speaking, the purple yams I found are not true Ube from the Philippines. The yams I found were just labeled as "Purple Yams" at the Asian grocery. But more specifically, I think they are better known as okinawan sweet potatoes.

Real Filipino Ube yams have a darker skin, and unless I’m mistaken, cannot be found here in the States.  But compared to the frozen Ube from the Philippines that I used for my previous recipes, the flavor and texture of these purple yams were almost the same, if not just a touch sweeter. Also, don’t mistake purple yams or Ube for the purple Peruvian potatoes that have recently become available at farmers’ markets and some grocery stores. Yams are sweeter than potatoes, so they can’t really be used interchangeably.

To make my purple yam gnocchi, I basically looked up a bunch of regular ol’ potato gnocchi recipes and went from there. I ended up boiling a pound of purple yam, then peeled and passed them through a potato ricer and onto a floured surface.


I then made a crater in the center of the yam mound, dusted this purple volcano with flour, and added an egg to the crater.


Working from the middle, I began mixing the yams and flour and egg together until a large purple ball was formed.  I then cut this purple blob into fourths, and rolled and stretched each quarter into an inch-thick rope.  Once I had the ropes formed, I cut the rope into inch-long pieces.


Finally, using my thumb, I flicked each purple piece off of the tines of a fork to form the classic indentations for gnocchi.  The purpose of these indentations is two-fold: First, they look cool. Second, they allow the gnocchi to grab on to whatever sauce they are being served with.



After all of the gnocchi earned their stripes, I plopped them into some salted boiling water. After a couple of minutes, they floated to the top and I moved them to an ice bath.  After the ice bath, the gnocchi can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, and then prepared in a number of ways.

These slightly sweet gnocchi probably wouldn’t play well with a tomato sauce.  But they do go nicely with a sheen of browned butter and sage. Just melt some butter in a skillet with some chopped sage and heat until the butter foams.  Toss in the purple gnocchi and cook until heated through. If you’d like, make things a bit sweeter by adding some honey to your browned butter.

If you’d like to keep things strictly Filipino (Strictly 4 My PINOYZ!), saute the boiled and cooled gnocchi in a bit of oil until the gnocchi is browned slightly and the purple becomes more intense.  Then serve the purple yam gnocchi as a side to your favorite Chicken Adobo recipe.


You can use any chicken adobo recipe you want, but this recipe happens to be my favorite Chicken Adobo. The indentations on the gnocchi hold on to just the right amount of soy, vinegar, and garlic. 

In spite of our monochromatic muses, Picasso and I have little else in common.   That is, unless, he had a thing for Filipino food, rap music, and/or cheesy Kung-fu flicks. Somehow, I get the feeling ol’ Pablo wasn’t into any of those things.

Purple Yam Gnocchi

1 pound purple yams
3/4 cup + 1/4 cup flour
1 egg

Boil the purple yams until soft, about 30 minutes. When yams are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and pass the yams through a potato ricer onto a well-floured surface.

Form a well in the middle of the riced yams, cover evenly with 3/4 cup flour, and place an egg in the center of the well.  Using a fork, break the yolk of the egg and begin to mix the egg, flour, and yams together–starting from the inside of the well and working your way out.

When a dough is formed, continue kneading with your hands. If the dough is too wet and sticky, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour and continue kneading. After the dough comes together into a ball, cut the ball into fourths.  Roll each quarter of the dough into long ropes about 1-inch thick, then cut the ropes into 1-inch pieces.

Using your thumb, press each piece of dough against the back of a fork and gently roll off of the fork.  Use just enough pressure to form indentations in the dough.  Once each gnocchi is formed, drop them into salted boiling water just until they float to the top, about 1-2 minutes.  Remove gnocchi from boiling water and place in an ice bath.

Once gnocchi are boiled, cooled, and drained, place them in a bowl with a drizzle of oil to keep them from sticking.  They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, until they are ready for use.

  • Katrina September 26, 2007, 1:34 am

    You must be on something to come up with this! 😉 Gnocchi with adobo is strange enough to imagine, but UBE gnocchi with adobo??? I have never had ube in a savory dish. But hey, most Americans have never had avocado as dessert, so who’s to say ube wouldn’t work this way? I have to say, the ube gnocchi with butter sounds interesting.
    But, really…HOW did you think of making gnocchi from ube?

  • Penelope September 26, 2007, 7:08 am

    Wow–that is a crazy dish that I might just have to try…if I can find purple yam in NYC. I DO love all things ube.
    As a new reader to your blog I have two suggestions for chicken adobo: use half soy sauce and half patis instead of all soy sauce. Whaddya think? Secondly, I cook collard greens in the adobo ‘sauce’ to eat with the chicken. The bitter greens can really stand up to the strength of adobo. AND–I’m going to have to try using cider vinegar–what a good idea!

  • oggi September 26, 2007, 8:15 am

    That’s an interesting “must try at least once” gnocchi with butter and sage.
    BTW, where did you get your absinthe?:D

  • Burnt Lumpia September 26, 2007, 9:43 am

    Katrina, it is strange isn’t it? I was afraid I’d get the stink eye for this post;) I think we usually think of Ube as a dessert because that is always how it is served. But for this gnocchi, there is no sugar in the recipe, so the only sweetness comes from the yam itself, and that is a very mild sweetness. I do admit though, good ol’ steamed rice is always best with adobo. I actually came up with this idea while I was making my Ube ice cream. After I steamed and mashed the Ube, I started thinking of different preparations for potato dishes. And gnocchi sprang to mind!
    Hello Penelope. I’m not sure about the patis/soy combo as patis is much more salty than soy (at least to me it seems more salty). I must say though, I love the idea of collard greens with adobo sauce! That’s a great idea!
    oggi, yes, it’s good to try everything once;) And I still have an old bottle of absinthe a friend of mine brought back from Europe. Although nowadays, absinthe is completely legal in the U.S.

  • Matt Hurst September 26, 2007, 10:08 am

    How about this recipe that you and I have enjoyed together and fits perfectly into this blog:
    2 parts vodke
    1 part absinthe
    Mix in martini shaker. Pour into martini glass. Enjoy. Hallucinate.
    And, by the way, you’re welcome for the absinthe from Europe. It’s not as much fun sneaking it back into the country when it’s now legal here.

  • veron September 26, 2007, 10:47 am

    I have never had purple yam gnocchi – much less have it with adobo.They look delicious. I’m off to check out your adobo recipe – can it be better than mine ;)?

  • Wandering Chopsticks September 26, 2007, 10:52 am

    Your wife is a lucky, lucky woman! My favorite color and my favorite pasta all in one! How did you know? :)

  • leah September 26, 2007, 11:35 am

    Will the ube go well with a cream sauce like alfredo? Perhaps with lobster or shrimp? Yumm!!

  • elmomonster September 26, 2007, 1:54 pm

    Man, you and Wandering Chopsticks have been giving me awesome ideas. You cooking gods, you! It’s quite striking that purple…I bet little kids will clamor to eat it. I mean they eat Play-Doh right?!

  • maybahay September 26, 2007, 3:19 pm

    i love your creativity with the humble ube. butter and sage happen to be my favourite pasta and gnocchi dressing. will have to try that with ube gnocchi once.

  • Hillary September 26, 2007, 4:25 pm

    That’s awesome! I’ve heard about and seen purple potatoes but I’ve never had one. How creative to make gnocchi out of them! Do they taste different?

  • Cynthia September 26, 2007, 8:09 pm

    Marvin, these are awesome and I love the colour!

  • Katrina September 27, 2007, 3:54 am

    I had dinner last night with some food bloggers whose blogs you’ve been reading (and who’ve also been reading your blog), and we talked about how we so enjoy reading Burnt Lumpia because you give us a totally fresh perspective of Filipino food. I doubt any of us could’ve ever thought of turning ube into gnocchi, and none of us has ever dared to make longganisa, because we already have all these preconceptions which you don’t.
    By the way, I’ve got to thank you for the succession of ube posts! I don’t think I’ve ever seen my favorite color this much in any food blog. I can’t stop looking at the pictures. I especially like the one with the egg yolk, and the second-to-the-last photo with the army of adorable purple gnocchi! :-)

  • Mila September 27, 2007, 4:29 am

    Very cool. I saw a post on epicurious about purple potato gnocchi, but I think using the sweeter taro or purple yam would make a dish far more interesting. First thing I thought of was maybe a garlic based oil sauce, but never thought of adobo. Hmmm, a pesto maybe? garlicky pesto. No cheese though.

  • raissa September 27, 2007, 8:08 am

    absinthe is legal in the US now?? hmmm LOL
    I am finding it hard to imagine purple yam gnocchi but I think its worth a try. and with adobo? hmmm my aunt cooks her adobo with balsamic vinegar which I surprisingly loved.

  • joey September 27, 2007, 8:40 am

    Katrina clued me in on this post…impressive! That is pure genius! Ube gnocchi…why on earth not? :) It’s a root crop like potato (and I’ve seen sweet potato gnocchi and beetroot gnocchi) plus it’s purple so you have the cool color to boot! You make me see Filipino food through new eyes :)

  • steamy kitchen September 27, 2007, 10:38 am

    You’re so good with the purple foods!!!!!

  • Mila September 27, 2007, 9:12 pm

    I just saw this soup on Gothamist and thought that in case you haven’t lost interest in all purple foods yet (or for future inspiration) you might want to try using ube instead of the sweet potato.

  • margaux September 28, 2007, 1:01 am

    this is brilliant! we’re making ube halaya in bulacan tomorrow but this is such a cool twist!

  • tokyoastrogirl September 28, 2007, 9:09 am

    Check you out!!!! These look amazing- and I agree- I love gnocchi sauteed in a bit of butter until it forms a crisp crust. What a great idea on using the purple ube.

  • Rasa Malaysia September 28, 2007, 3:08 pm

    Thanks for voting for my butter prawns on steamy kitchen. :)
    This purple yam gnocchi looks so unique and wonderful…I love purple yam (more than patatoes). Plus the color is so vibrant. I love it.

  • Janice September 30, 2007, 7:38 pm

    it’s about that time again…holiday season! how about an ube pie? Grimace would approve!

  • relly59 October 1, 2007, 2:12 am

    Hi, too good for this idea, i made a sweet potato gnocchi http://franco-pinaykitchenexperiments.blogspot.com/2006/01/sweet-potato-dumplings-gnocchi-de-pdt.html
    and the idea i got was from a Pinay blog showing the Gorgoria Pinoy deli from North of Luzon, I think. May i add this ube gnocchi on my blog!

  • Burnt Lumpia October 2, 2007, 8:54 pm

    Matt, even though it’s legal now, your Absinthe “martini” is still quite delicious.
    I doubt my adobo is better than yours Veron;)
    WC, I’m the lucky one!
    Hi Leah. I’m not a big fan of cream sauces, so I can’t answer that question fairly. But give it a try and see if you like it.
    Elmo, that’s a good point. It looked especially play-doh-y when coming out of the ricer.
    Thanks maybahay! Butter and sage went surprisingly well with the ube, well, it tasted good to me at least.
    Hi Hillary. Yes, Ube tastes different than purple potatoes. Ube is a bit sweet.
    Thank you, Cynthia:)
    Wow, thanks Katrina. I’m jealous that I can’t have dinner with you and your blogger friends. But am very greatful that I am worthy fodder for your dinner conversations.
    Hi Mila. A pesto with the gnocchi sounds like an interesting combo worth trying out.
    Hi raissa, yup, absinthe is legal now.
    Thanks Joey! I wouldn’t call myself a genius. I’m just curious;)
    Thanks Steamy! That’s probably all the purple I’m good for.
    Thanks for the link mila. Sweet potato soup eh? Hmmmm…
    Hi Margaux. I hope you post about your ube haleya. I’d be very intersted in seeing that.
    Thanks tokyoastrogirl!
    Hi Rasa. I’d vote for your food any day. It always looks so good.
    Hey Janice! I think me and Grimace will be parting ways for a little bit. It’s me, not him;)
    Hello relly, thanks for stopping by. Of course you can add this to your blog!

  • prac October 4, 2007, 11:27 pm

    You are a purple food genius!

  • toni October 18, 2007, 5:41 pm

    You’re so creative! This is a different way to appreciatae purple yams. First time I’ve seen purple gnocchi!

  • Jen Tan October 18, 2007, 9:50 pm

    I think it’s a great idea to use purple yam to make gnocchi! I think yam tastes better than potatoes…since it’s sweet (specially for the Filipino palatte—we like do lean towards the sweet-ish stuff) and I just adore the color purple ;P

  • Julie October 19, 2007, 10:49 pm

    Oh my gosh, these are amazing! I found your blog through Lasang Pinoy, and I’m glad I did! Your blog is wonderful!

  • Burnt Lumpia October 20, 2007, 9:06 am

    Thanks prac, but I wouldn’t call myself a genius. Delusional perhaps;)
    Thanks Toni!
    Hi Jen. Yes, the sweetness of the gnocchi is a nice change of pace.
    Hi Julie. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you visit my blog often.

  • mario October 22, 2007, 4:22 pm

    hi im mario summer is gone and it’s time for me to change menu and im looking for new one thinking of violet gnocci thats why im here is it ok to combine with shrimps and artichokes

  • mags November 4, 2007, 12:45 pm

    You know, I’ve always said, as an Italian major and a Filipina, that the similarities between our two cultures are profound.
    UBE gnocchi.
    Do you see what I’m saying??!??
    You’re a genius. I’m so glad to have found your blog; maybe it’ll inspire me to write more on mine.
    I’ll come back to read more of your stuff and add you to the blogroll for A is for Adobo.

  • Burnt Lumpia November 6, 2007, 10:27 am

    mario, shrimp and artichoke sound fine. give it a try.
    Thanks mags. I look forward to seeing more on your blog. Thanks for stopping by!

  • SaucyGirlNJ November 13, 2007, 4:17 pm

    I have found purple yam and its sister the white yam at the outdoor vendors in NYC’s Chinatown.
    Love the idea of ube gnocchi and will try it with a sage butter sauce for Thanksgiving…mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

  • Donna L. December 6, 2007, 2:42 pm

    Next time you’re in Alameda you can check out American-made absinthe. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/12/05/MNQJTO9FM.DTL

  • renee March 31, 2010, 12:39 pm

    this looks ridiculously tasty! never thought to use yams, but that seems like an healthier alternative to regular potatoes. you could even add some flax meal I bet!

  • Katie June 7, 2010, 3:16 am

    I just tried this recipe using purple sweet potatoes (not sure if Ube is the same thing, or not.) It’s fantastic!

  • Natalie Montanaro November 25, 2012, 4:30 pm

    I loved this and posted your blog page on our Facebook page, too! I had a cooking class for homemade gnocchi recently and have made sweet potato and other kinds, but didn’t think to us our kumara/purple yams here in Tonga for these! I will serve them with a maple and brown sugar butter sauce…thanks for posting…your photos are beautiful.


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