Whether they spring from an Italian, Scandinavian, Eastern European or German heritage, potato dumplings make a flavorful side dish or a novel basis for sauces. They have dozens of names -- gnocchi, kopytka, kartoffelkloesse and kroppkakor are just a few -- but every cuisine's version of the fluffy potato-filled bites relies on their mellow, creamy flavor to support a spicier or richer main dish.
While the Southern classic chicken and dumplings traditionally uses a biscuit-like dough for dumplings, using a potato-based dumpling instead adds a new twist on the old standard. Potato dumplings work just as well in a hearty beef stew, atop a vegetable soup or in place of wonton in a Chinese-inspired chicken broth. Dumplings make a light soup more substantial and turn a thicker stew into a meal with real staying power. Buy your dumplings frozen or make your own and add ingredients that complement the soup. An Italian minestrone goes well with Parmesan cheese and basil dumplings, while a beef stew matches up with parsley and onions.
The USDA's "My Plate" recommendation devotes a quarter of the plate to grains and starches. Instead of the usual mashed potatoes or rice, try a spoonful of gnocchi with your family's dinner. With a sauce or gravy, they become another flavor component to the meal. Without a sauce, they have a mild potato flavor that even finicky children will accept. If your child initially looks mistrustful of this new addition to the plate, describe them as bite-sized mashed potatoes to make them more familiar.
Just as plain pasta serves as the basis for meatballs and sauce, potato dumplings can fill the same role on the plate. Top a layer of potato dumplings with a meaty red sauce or a creamy white sauce with vegetables for a northern Italian gnocchi primavera. With beef Stroganoff or goulash, potato dumplings take on a more Eastern European flavor. Nestled under pork schnitzel with some peppery cabbage, the dumplings have a decidedly German flair. Served alongside a light and crispy green salad with creamy dressing.
Stuffed Potato Dumplings
Try wrapping the dumpling around the food instead of placing the food atop the dumplings for a kid-friendly meal idea that stores and travels well. Barbecue-laced shredded pork wrapped in a fluffy potato dumpling will please the whole family, while a pocket of minced beef with tomato, cheese and basil brings together meatballs and gnocchi in a different format. If you're making a number of different fillings for a party, dot the top of each stuffed dumpling with a bit of food coloring or herb leaves into each potato packet so guests can choose the fillings they presslike best.
Specialty Potato Dumplings
White potatoes aren't the only ones fit for turning into dumplings. Sweet potato dumplings double as a subtly sweet side dish or as an unusual, but healthful dessert. Brown sweet potato dumplings and top them with a little cinnamon or honey for a dessert that tastes like an indulgence as it adds fiber and vitamin A to the meal. Use purple potatoes for bright lavender dumplings that will impress any child who likes adventurous dining. As potatoes contain no gluten, potato dumplings with no flour fit well into a gluten-free diet.
Lauren Whitney covers science, health, fitness, fashion, food and weight loss. She has been writing professionally since 2009 and teaches hatha yoga in a home studio. Whitney holds bachelor's degrees in English and biology from the University of New Orleans.