The rainy days of fall have come at last and today even a bit of the white stuff. But thanks to our extended August weather my garden saw yet another expansion complete with an Asian pear tree, perennials, and flowering bulbs; plus I finally got the garlic planted. My focus has taken a small hiatus from planning out next year to filling my freezer with quick dinner options for the dark hibernating nights of winter.
I don’t have kids but I ended up with pumpkins and carving them didn’t happen. I also had potatoes – go figure. So, I thought I’d channel my inner nonna, combine the two and make some gnocchi. To say I followed a single recipe would be far from the truth… more like scoured through a ton of websites and drew on certain elements from each to make one. Biased opinion or not I think it turned out pretty delicious. They are in no way gluten-free or dairy-free but rich in flavour and love.
Step Uno: Roast your pumpkin – cook your potatoes
- Cut your pumpkin into half, gut it and then cut it into wedges (save the seeds to roast). Place on a cookie sheet skin side down, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Bake at 350°F for about an hour then remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Scoop out all the flesh and keep aside 1½ cups – freeze the rest for a rainy day. While your pumpkin is cooking place 3 medium sized russet potatoes into a pot and start to boil them. There is no need to cut or take the skin off just place them in whole! This will help you achieve the perfect texture – fork tender no more no less. Remove them from the water and allow to cool completely. When they’re ready peel the skin off and either grate the potatoes or use a potato ricer to process them.
Step Two: Prepare your dough
- In a large bowl add your pumpkin, prepared potato, 2 egg yolks, some fresh grated nutmeg, 1 cup of ricotta, ¼ cup grated parmesan, salt and approximately ½ cup+ of oo Italian flour. Now some of you are probably wondering; what the hell is oo flour? Basically, it’s more refined then normal flour and while it’s not necessary for this recipe I think it creates a superior, silkier dough and helps the pasta maintain chewiness once cooked. But use whatever you have on hand. I’d also like to mention that the flour amount will vary and this is where “channeling your inner nonna” comes in. As a friend recounted to me from her recent trip to Italy where she learnt to make pasta with a real live nonna, “they don’t measure – they feel; and just know when it’s enough.” Start with only ½ cup of flour and use a wooden spoon to bring all the mixture together, adding in flour as you go until the dough does not feel wet any more. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
Step 3: Make your gnocchi
- Cut a slice of dough off and roll it out into a rope about ½” thick. Using a sharp knife cut your rope into 1” pieces. Keep flour on hand for this stage as well, you don’t want your gnocchi sticking to the counter. Use a fork or a gnocchi board to gently roll your pieces, creating texture on top and a small indent on the bottom to catch your sauce. Continue this formula until all the dough is used.
Step Quatro: Cook & eat!
- Bring some salted water up to a boil, working in small batches to cook your gnocchi. When they float to the surface they are done… it does not take long – do not leave them unattended. At this point the rest is up to you: skies the limit. Sauce them up with whatever your heart is craving. For this round I used A LOT of butter then some sage, chili pepper, garlic and toasted hazelnuts (plus a little extra pancetta I had on hand). Like with pasta I added a bit of the water the gnocchi was cooked in to make it extra saucy.
Step 5: Freeze your extras
- This recipe produces a lot of little gnocchi so I froze the extras in a single layer on cookie sheet lined with parchment (as seen in the featured image).
In my kitchen I experiment just as much, if not more, as I do in my garden. I did not nail this recipe on the first try and it’s still not nonna’s gnocchi but it’s mine. It’s really about how the more I cook, the more I learn, the more I love to do it and the more I eat! And, let’s be honest, there are way worse problems to have then a full stomach and heart.