Oh, how I love gnocchi.
Actually, anything potato-y. Or starchy.
I happened to have a lot of potatoes recently, and so I made a huge batch of gnocchi with them and froze it all to use through the winter.
And then, shortly after that, we happened to have some pumpkin…
Freshly picked (at a farm) pumpkin that had been cut open at the top and emptied of seeds because my husband wanted to use it (the pumpkin) as a mini beer dispenser.
Because, why not?
I felt the pumpkin needed a little decoration, so I drew this face. It actually matches (sort of) the label on the bottles of Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Pumking Ale that we were enjoying. I do have my inspired moments.
And after all that, we had a little pumpkin we didn’t want to waste, so I sliced away the section with the caulk on it, cut the rest into chunks, and roasted it. Once the pumpkin had cooled, I scraped the flesh from the skin and stowed it in the fridge for a day or two. Would I make muffins out of it? Pie? Cake? Bread?
I wasn’t in the mood for sweet, though. I was thinking savory.
I put the chunks of pumpkin through my ricer until I had about 4 cups.
I love the ricer.
Now, I used my basic go-to recipe for potato gnocchi, but in retrospect, I should have slowed down and paid more attention to things while I was adding ingredients together.
First, I added the flour and salt, which I’d whisked together first.
I mixed the pumpkin and flour together with a fork.
I took lots of pictures of it.
I just thought it looked interesting.
Then I added the olive oil and then the eggs. No egg addition picture for some reason. Odd.
Anyway, the thing I want to talk about at this point is that I should have added the eggs one at a time, rather than all at once, because I don’t think the mixture required as many eggs as a potato version would.
Hindsight, you know.
But since I dumped all that wet stuff into my relatively wet mixture, I ended up with a VERY wet dough.
And since it was far too wet to roll out and cut, I added some more flour. And some more.
Until it was…not exactly the way I wanted it, but close enough.
Next time around, I’ll reduce the amount of eggs and oil a bit.
Time to roll out a bit of dough and shape the gnocchi.
After a generous dusting of flour – I knew the dough would be extra sticky – I scooped out some of the dough.
Hey – lips!
Oh, the fun I have!
Anyway, I rolled out a “snake” of dough about as thick as my index finger and cut it into a few pieces.
I figured, since I’d added so much more flour, maybe I should taste a bit of gnocchi just to make sure it wasn’t yucky, before going ahead and rolling out and shaping the whole batch.
I brought some water to a boil, tossed in half a dozen little gnocchi, and waited while they cooked.
I was mainly afraid that any pumpkin flavor – already a relatively mild flavor – might have faded away with the additional flour. If that had happened, I would probably have put the mixture in the fridge, roasted a butternut squash, and then added some of that flesh to the dough.
Sure, I’d have ended up with 200 pounds of gnocchi, but that’s not a bad thing.
Fortunately, considering we don’t have space in the freezer for 200 pounds of gnocchi, I could taste the pumpkin.
Time to go back to shaping the gnocchi.
As time-consuming as it is, I like to make the little ridges on each gnocchi. There are little gnocchi boards you can buy, but I don’t have one and I don’t need one more thing taking up space in my kitchen or pantry…so I just use a fork.
And sometimes I’m fortunate enough to have assistance.
She’s pretty skilled.
And she’s fun to hang out with.
As we rolled out the gnocchi, we placed them on parchment- or silpat-lined sheet pans, and I put those in the freezer. Once the gnocchi were frozen hard, I moved them into gallon sized bags.
Well, not all of them. Just what I wasn’t planning to cook for dinner that night.
to cook the gnocchi, I just brought a pot of water to a boil and cooked the gnocchi in small batches. They sink to the bottom at first, and as they thaw and cook, they rise to the top. Once they’re cooked, I spoon them into a warm bowl, add a tiny bit of butter or olive oil just to keep them from all globbing together, and move on to the next batch. They cook pretty quickly – you just want to keep the water at a rolling boil.
Anyway, once I’d finished cooking the gnocchi, it was time to make the Brown Sage Butter. Or Sage Brown Butter. I see it written differently. I don’t care what you call it, really. The important thing is to MAKE it. And it’s very easy.
Put some butter in a hot pan. I used a cast iron skillet. Melt the butter. Let it brown. No, really, brown. Not tan. Brown.
Yes, it’s scary. It feels like you’re deliberately burning it, but as long as it doesn’t turn black and get all smoky, you’re fine. Once the butter is brown, add some torn sage leaves – fresh sage is a must – and stir them around in the butter until they’re wilted.
Now pour all this over your gnocchi, mix it around a bit, and serve!
Easy, huh? And such an incredible flavor. The sage is bright and pungent and makes me think of sausage, and it goes really nicely with the pumpkin gnocchi.
In addition to the gnocchi (though that alone would have been a perfect meal in MY opinion), we had grilled bok choy and grilled pork chops
Here’s the juice, after I strained the sauerkraut out of it. It’s tangy and smoky.
To that I added a couple of peeled, sliced apples…
and cooked the whole mixture until the apples were very soft. Then I used the immersion blender and pureed the whole thing.
We served that over the pork chops.
Bill also poured some on the gnocchi.
Speaking of the gnocchi, here’s the recipe I used, but keep in mind that you might not need all the eggs.
4 cups roasted pumpkin (or squash…and yes, you could probably use canned), either pureed or run through a ricer
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 large eggs (you might not need all of this mixture)
Whisk the flour and salt together well, then add them to the pumpkin and stir together with a fork.
Combine the olive oil with the eggs. Add about half to the pumpkin/flour mixture and stir with a fork until completely combined. At this point, add more of the egg/oil blend, a little at a time, until the dough is soft but not too sticky. I’m thinking half of the remaining egg/oil should be enough, unless your roasted pumpkin was really dry.
Once you’ve got the dough made, scoop it out, a little at a time, and roll out into snakes or logs (whatever term you prefer) about the same diameter as your index finger. Cut these snakes into inch-long pieces.
At this point you can either freeze them on a pan as they are, or make the little gnocchi ridges by rolling them down the back of a fork. (For more images that show how to do this, go here.) Whichever shape you make, either cook them right away or freeze them by placing them in single layers on lined baking sheets. When completely frozen, you can store the gnocchi in plastic bags or containers for several months.
To cook, bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook a handful of gnocchi at a time – too many will really drop the temperature and you’ll end up with yucky, soggy gnocchi that clumps together. Ugh.
The frozen gnocchi will sink to the bottom; when cooked, it will rise to the top. Scoop the cooked gnocci out with a slotted spoon and continue on in this way until all the gnocchi are cooked.
Serve with butter and grated cheese, or the browned sage butter I mentioned earlier in the post, or with whatever you like.
Above all - enjoy!