Well, PumpkinPalooza! got a little extension thanks to some technical difficulties on my end last week (something about Internet Explorer, compatibility version, and my network connection timing out…not really sure). But thankfully (with the help of an IT angel from work) everything seems to be in working order this morning and we can close out PumkinPalooza! with a final decadent dinner that is totally worth the wait.
This summer $1.25 and I had an amazing opportunity to take a cooking class in Rome with an Italian chef who taught us some fantastic recipes and even more wonderful cooking techniques. One of the dishes we made was fresh gnocchi and from that day on, $1.25 and I vowed to make it a part of our home cooking repertoire. So, this recipe for pumpkin gnocchi was naturally going to be a part of PumkinPalooza! Gnocchi is definitely time consuming since there are a lot of steps involved. But, one trick we learned from our Italian teacher is that gnocchi actually get better if you make them ahead of time and give them a chance to dry out a little. So, keep that in mind and maybe you can start these in the morning and then just finish them off for dinner that night. The actual cooking part of the gnocchi is VERY fast, so with a little prep work ahead of time, you could pull an impressive dinner together in minutes.
Basically, gnocchi are potato dumplings which you make from first boiling the potatoes, then running them through a food mill, a ricer, or the meat grinder on a mixer. We used the meat grinder on the food processor, which was relatively easy. Then you add in egg, flour and seasonings (in this case PUMPKIN and parmesan cheese) to form the potatoes into a dough. At that point, the dough is formed into logs and rolled out before being cut into bite sized pieces and tossed in semolina flour. (This is the point where you would stop and let them dry if you’re taking your time.) They are cooked in boiling water for just a few quick minutes and then tossed with your sauce/topping of choice.
Here’s the full recipe for the pumpkin gnocchi (courtesy of our good friend Emeril):
1 1/2 pounds Idaho potatoes, about 3 large, scrubbed and boiled in skins until tender
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 to 2 cups flour
Salted water for cooking gnocchi
1/2 pound unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
Allow the cooked potatoes to cool slightly, then carefully peel while holding potato with a kitchen mitt. While still hot, puree potatoes through a ricer or food mill into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool completely before proceeding. Add the pumpkin puree, cheese, egg, allspice, salt and pepper and mix well. Gradually add in enough flour to form a smooth, slightly sticky dough. Briefly knead the dough to incorporate the flour, being careful not to overwork.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and place one piece on a lightly floured work surface. Roll piece into a long rope, about 1/2-inch in diameter, flouring lightly if needed. Slice the rope into pieces 1/2-inch wide. Holding one piece at a time, roll the tines of a fork against the dough until slight indentations are formed. Repeat with each piece of dough, setting formed gnocchi on a floured kitchen towel or baking sheet.
Immediately add the gnocchi to the boiling water and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes once they have risen to the top. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon or skimmer and set aside briefly while making the sauce.
In a skillet over high heat add the butter when pan is very hot. Let butter sit undisturbed until almost all melted and outside edges have begun to caramelize. Quickly swirl the skillet and add minced sage. Let cook for 30 seconds longer, season with salt and pepper to taste and add gnocchi to skillet to toss with sauce and rewarm if necessary. Serve immediately with shaved parmesan cheese.
Here’s our take on the recipe: First, it makes A LOT of gnocchi. Like A WHOLE LOT. Emeril seems to think this makes four entrée sized portions, but it seemed like way more than that. Second, it really wasn’t very pumpkin-y. I almost want to try it with more pumpkin and see how it tastes because I was really looking forward to the fall flavor of pumpkin and sage and the umpkin just didn’t shine. And third, you really have to cook the *$%& out of the potatoes. I thought I cooked them enough and was worried about them getting soggy, but they still seemed a little crunchy in the gnocchi. Sounds like I need a do-over to cook them longer, cut the recipe in half and double the pumpkin. Even with those “faults” the dish was delicious and we really enjoyed such a gourmet-feeling dinner.