IIf there’s one compensation for the loss of summer’s brilliant crop, it’s the sweetness of many fall vegetables—most notably, of course, the squash and winter squash that have become indelibly associated with Halloween. A relatively recent addition to the European menu, it represents a welcome dash of sugar among all the bitter greens and starchy root vegetables that will inevitably dominate our diets for the next few months.
According to Ana del Conte, pumpkin gnocchi, a hotter and crunchier variant over the potato-based version, is a specialty of Veneto and southern Lombardy, where it is assumed that it would generally be served first dishes Before the main event they are also beautifully paired with delicious game stews, spicy sausages and sautéed mushrooms. However, it is enough on its own, as it is put in a lot of butter. And frankly, what isn’t it?
Although it generally appears on menus as pumpkin gnocchi, possibly due to the word “squash” conjuring up visions of the bland, watery blooms, it’s advised not to try this with an actual pumpkin, unless you’re very sure of the assortment. According to Janet MacDonald’s Trusted Guide to Squash and Squash, “Gourds are round works with thin flesh or nice-tasting, always orange and more or less spherical,” while winter squash tend to be denser, with “a nutty and sometimes almost sweet taste.” “. For this recipe, you want as much flavor and as little water in your gnocchi as possible, which is strongly suggested using winter squash.
River Cafe chef Joe Trivelli wrote that it’s best made with “dry, sweet [variety]. Walnuts tend not to work as well.” Recommendations include blue-skinned crown, dark green Italian dalica or Japanese kabocha, red onion, or Korean, squash. Unfortunately, few are available in your regular British supermarket, but if That’s your only option, so don’t despair—I’m making some very satisfying butternut squash gnocchi by following Steve Farrow’s recipe for The Wine Society (excellent wine pairing recommendations, too).
If you want to guarantee sweetness, you may want to follow Anna Del Conte’s suggestion of mixing walnuts or capucha with the same amount of sweet potatoes as the closest thing to “the spicy sweetness and moist texture of a Northern Italian squash.” However, if, like one of my Instagram commenters, you find the squash to be too sugary for your taste, you may want to follow Trivelli by blending it in roughly equal amounts of white potatoes, which gives his gnocchi a more subtle sweetness – there is still an unmistakable , but as a hint, rather than the prevailing observation.
Unfortunately, unless you’re very lucky with the squash, you’ll need to bake it before using, to get as much moisture out as possible, but without drying it out so much that you can’t blend the pulp into a puree. This may be why Chef Stephen Bull’s Classic Bull suggests covering the baking dish, but although this keeps the pumpkin tender, it locks in moisture, making his next step, to reduce the subsequent mashing in a hot skillet, which is absolutely essential. . It’s best to bake it uncovered, over a relatively moderate heat, and then only reach into the pan if the results are still very runny.
It is useful to understand that the more flour you add to the gnocchi dough (up to a certain point), the easier it will be to work with it. However, the trade-off is that it will also be more juicy and less flavorful than pumpkin (or ricotta, or potatoes, or whatever else you put in there). Even as someone who can’t be persuaded to see studge as a pejorative term, I have to admit that pumpkin gnocchi is better when it tastes pumpkin (or squash – you get the meaning), so I used a little flour here in practice. The texture of soft mashed potatoes is about what you’re aiming for: Joe Woodhouse has some sensible advice in his new book, Your Daily Veg: “I like to pull out a piece of dough and cook it before shaping it to test the flour ratio, as all squashes aren’t equal and some retain more water than others.” If the gnocchi floats to the top and settles together, I keep going. If it breaks or becomes too loose, then I knead another 50g of flour and try again until it thickens.”
Del Conte is the only one who added baking powder to the mix in her book Vegetables all’Italiana, but I like it thicker and denser, so I’ll omit it; If you prefer an airy result, try adding a teaspoon with the flour. (You can use finely ground “00” flour, if you wish, as Trivelli recommends in his book The Modern Italian Cook, but in such a small amount that only the most refined of tastes will be able to distinguish this from what is sold in the UK as plain flour.)
Farrow adds ricotta to his nectarine mix, which, while softening the flavor, gives them a lovely lightness. I want to be flavorful as emphatically as possible, so I won’t include any, but it’s a great idea if you have yen for a milder and creamier dumpling. The classic binder, however, is white, often used whole, but I prefer the ox-yolk and Richard Corrigan only approach, which removes the boring watery white completely.
The recipe from The Silver Spoon uses nearly four times as many eggs as Trivelli and twice as many as Del Conte. Contrary to my best judgment, I follow it to letter – after all, this is the “authentic Italian cooking bible” – and end up with a very liquid mixture that, when dropped into a saucepan of boiling water with a teaspoon, like the directions say it dissolves into a foam. There doesn’t seem to be a detail missing in translation, if Erica Cartapia’s account on her La Tana del Coniglio blog is anything you should go through — “In my opinion,” she wrote, “something was wrong with the flour dose!” This is a lesson for all gnocchi makers to trust your instincts; Only you know how wet the mash is and how much flour and liquid it requires.
I’m sad that the Silver Spoon recipe didn’t work, because it includes crushed amaretti, a detail that reminds me of some delicious tortellini I learned in Bergamo. If you have some crackers in need of draining, and you don’t fancy a trifle, try adding some to the mixture below in place of some of the flour. However, here I’ve stuck with the classic nutmeg, along with a dash of cinnamon to bring out the sweetness of the squash, and a good zest of Parmesan to balance things out. (Other hard cheeses will do, too.)
Formation and accompaniment
Bull and Del Conte both put the dough into the pan, but I find it easiest to roll my more robust version into sausages and cut them individually. If you prefer tubes, do it by all means, cut each one gnoccho With a wet knife as you go.
I feel very strongly that the flavor of this gnocchi improved with a few minutes in a hot, buttery skillet, to brown the sides, rather than just pouring a little melted butter (or ox cream) over it. You can add garlic and chili as well, as trevelli does, along with chicken livers; Make a bright green spinach-and-Parmesan dressing, Woodhouse suggests; Or toss the gnocchi with cinnamon, sugar, and Parmesan butter, which del Conte says is the classic Veneto sauce. Or just go with shredded sage leaves and butter, because, frankly, they don’t need anything else.
The perfect pumpkin gnocchi
to equip 25 minutes
cook 45 minutes
serve 4 as a first course
700 g of pumpkin or squashand preferably drier like crown, kabocha or delica
100 grams plain flourplus more dust
30 gm parmesan cheesegrated, plus more to serve
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder
Half a teaspoon of salt
1 egg yolk
50 gm butter
1 small sage leaves (my choice)
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan) / 350°F / Gas 4. Peel the zucchini, chop the seeds (I find a serrated spoon useful, if you have one), then chop the meat into large pieces.
Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and grill, turning once halfway through, for 35-40 minutes, until tender but not coloured.
While the squash pulp is still warm, mash or mash, or pass it through the potato whey – you should have about 500g (if there is a lot, you will probably need to add more flour in the next step; if it is a lot less, reduce the flour according So). If the puree appears too wet, heat a large skillet, either lightly oiled or non-stick, over medium-high heat, add the puree and cook, stirring regularly, for five minutes, until it appears dry and slightly darker in color. If it is rather thick, like mashed potatoes, you can skip this step.
Put the mash in a large bowl, then add the flour, cheese, spices and salt, then the egg yolk. Stir until you get a soft, sticky dough – it should hold together, so add more flour if needed.
Dust a work surface with flour and sprinkle a tray with more flour. Take a handful of the gnocchi mixture and roll it into a 2cm thick sausage.
Cut them into 2cm lengths and place on a floured tray, keeping them spaced. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Boil a large, deep pot of lightly salted water. Cook the gnocchi in batches until it floats on the surface, then ladle and drain through a sieve, stirring to make sure they don’t stick together.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then shred the sage leaves. Add the drained gnocchi and cook, stirring gently, stirring until coated with butter and lightly colored all over.
Serve with butter poured on top, another grated nutmeg and more Parmesan.
Pumpkin Gnocchi: What types of squash do you like, what do you add to your gnocchi mix and how do you serve it up? And does anyone have an alternative recipe using amaretti they would like to suggest?