Fall and Pumpkins
While doing my grocery shopping the other day, I bumped into this extraordinary little green pumpkin. Just for the sake of curiosity I bought one and kept it in the fridge for a week before using it. When I was finally in the mood to cook something special - really, I’m always in the mood but time never seems to be enough! - I decided to use Mr. Pumpkin.
Armed with all my tools, I started chopping this little green fellow into big chunks and realized how hard its texture was, so I just opened it in quarters, leaving the skin on, and popped it in the oven at 180°. After 30 minutes it was soft enough to manage and with the help of a good ol' spoon I just scrapped the pulp from its skin. Laying there in front of me was the most incredible pumpkin puree I’ve ever dealt with. It’s texture is similar to that of a sweet potato ... so why not make gnocchi?! And so I did. I could have used the pumpkin (I keep calling it pumpkin but really it’s a squash) to actually make the gnocchi dough, but I wasn't sure if it would turn out the way I expected it to be, so I preferred to take a simpler path by whisking up a pumpkin sauce for my homemade buckwheat-potato gnocchi. The result was amazing and the returned empty plates ... made its statement and my joy.
A quick note on the gnocchi dough: I recommend you use red potatoes, because of their firmness and starchy texture, the dough will hold together easily and eggs won't be needed.
150 gr of buckwheat flour
150 gr of white flour
1 kg of potatoes
1 pinch of salt
1 egg (optional)
Pumpkin and Leek Sauce:
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 leek finely sliced - Julienne style
1 cup of pumpkin puree
5 tbsp of milk
salt and pepper
Wash the potatoes thoroughly and place in a pot with cold water, bring to a boil and cook until tender - leave the skin on.
When ready and still hot, peel the potatoes and mash. If you use the hand grip potato masher you don't even need to peel the potatoes because the peel remains inside the tool and you just pull it out before adding another potato to mash.
Mix the flours together and add the (warm) mashed potatoes and salt. Knead the dough by hand, its consistency must be soft.
Divide the dough and roll long ropes on a floured surface. Cut into 1 inch pieces, place your finger in each and roll inwards. Voila! Your homemade gnocchi are ready.
While you prepare your sauce, place a big pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Don't forget to add salt to the water. Just like you would do for any other type of pasta.
The sauce is quick and easy. In a large hot saucepan add the olive oil and the finely sliced leeks, reduce the heat and simmer until very tender. Add the pumpkin puree, salt and milk. If the sauce appears to be to thick, add more milk. This will turn into a quick creamy sauce in about 5 minutes or less.
Gently place the gnocchi in the boiling water. As the gnocchi start to float on the surface, wait an extra 5 minutes and drain. Keep some of the cooking water aside in a cup, you may need it to thin the sauce.
Assemble the dish and generously sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Top it off with a few leaves of marjoram. I have a wonderful variety of tiny basil sitting on my counter, I use it almost on everything. Marjoram is a good alternate.
All images and text © Elvira Zilli - EZy cooking & more 2012