Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

31.3.04

Gnocchi should be so light it floats from the plate.

(Well, it should but mine doesn't always. But it's fun cooking it to try and achieve gnocchi heaven.)

The pumpkins were taking over. It was scary.

But we won the battle and I now have several trophy pumpkins sitting up proudly in the darkness of the shed, waiting to be eaten. Oh, there's a couple inside the house, too ... somewhere. In a cupboard? a wardrobe? I forget.

So. Pumpkin gnocchi.

Boil up your pumpkin - do the whole lot at once and then you can make pumpkin soup with what you don't use for the gnocchi.

Take about two large cups of the boiled pumpkin. 'Rice' or mash it and combine it well with a cup of flour and half a cup of finely grated parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper if you wish. (And whatever else you wish - ribbons of fresh basil, a dash of pesto ... whatever.) As long as the dough retains its firm but very slightly elastic consistency. Adjust the ratios where necessary.

Roll the dough out in lengths on a floured board to about an inch in diameter and cut into one inch segments. Do that rolling thing with a fork to create grooves, or not, as you please. I prefer mine ungrooved because I like that waxy, shiny look as the gnocchi bask away in the bowl after cooking, dressed up in their finest glistening sauce. Yum! Oops, getting ahead of myself.

Boil the water. Most recipes call for vast vats of water. At least make sure there's enough room for the gnocchi to bob around in the roiling water without getting in each other's way, although I have in the past made do with a small pot of water - for example, when camping. Just do them in batches in that case.

As they float to the surface - and you must pray that they do! - let them float about triumphantly for a moment then fish them out with a drainer spoon, let them drain well and transfer them to a serving bowl (or a baking dish if you are going to bake them with something yummy like three-cheese sauce).

How to dress up pumpkin gnocchi? A nice simple tomato sauce is good, its acidity contrasting with the slightly sweet pumpkin flavour. Or you can roll them around in some sage butter - melt some butter in a pan along with a fresh sage leaf for a couple of minutes, then toss the gnocchi through it. Top with parmesan.

And for a stronger pumpkin flavour and a richer colour - more like the top title bar than the second bar on this weblog - simply roast your pumpkin instead of boiling it. This goes for your pumpkin soup as well.

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