• September 30, 2011

    Pumpkin Gnocchi

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    …with browned butter and crispy sage.

    Okay, it happened. Rain jacket? Out of storage. September cold? Achoo! Uh huh. Pumpkin bandwagon? Jumped on.

    I guess it’s really fall. I guess September happened. And October is probably going to happen no matter how hard I dig in my heels. And you know what? I think I’m okay with that.

    In fact, I can’t really remember what I like so much about summer…

    In the summer, every time I go for a run, I feel like I’m going to collapse of a heat stroke, then drown in my own sweat. My non-air conditioned apartment feels like a sticky, humid greenhouse. My beach (yes, I claimed it) is packed with over-tanned, frisbee-tossing suburbanites clothed in far too little fabric, leaving me to drive in circles for 30 minutes looking for a parking spot while my dog hyperventilates with BEACH! excitement in the backseat.

    And it’s too hot to turn on the oven.

    I think I’ve always associated summer with freedom. But in the grown up world, that’s not really accurate. Therefore, I declare that I am going to make fall my new favourite.

    It’s still sunny, but at a comfortable 16 degrees. (American friends, that translates to exactly halfway between cold and hot). The markets are overflowing with gorgeous local produce. I get to buy new boots. My dog matches the changing leaves. It’s appropriate to make succulent slow braises and stews. Warm spices find their way into all kinds of delicious baking.

    Yep, I think I’m going to be friends with October. Are you on board? Good! Let’s wear sweaters and put pumpkin in stuff.

    Gnocchi are Italy’s answer to dumplings. They are typically made with cooked, mashed potato, flour and egg. The dough is rolled and sliced, and boiled. The resulting doughy morsels are chewy and delicious. Reminiscent of pierogy dough.

    You pronounce it like this: nee-ock-ee. Emphasis on the “ock”. Here, just listen.

    Or you can call it gah-noh-chi. Wrongly. But it’s kinda fun. Your choice.

    This autumnal version uses pumpkin instead of potato. Sauteed quickly in browned butter and sage, they are unbelievably delicious and surprisingly easy to make.

    First you mix the pumpkin with the egg, salt, and nutmeg. Then you add enough flour to make a sticky dough – it will pull away from the bowl, but it will still stick to your fingers.

    You divide the dough into manageable amounts, and roll it out to a long rope of about an inch thickness. You slice the rope and pop the gnocchi into a pot of boiling water.

    It’s easy to tell when they are done; they simply float to the top!

    While the gnocchi are cooking, melt some butter in a big pan along with sage leaves. The butter will brown itself into a blissful state of nutty, toasty brown, while the sage leaves obligingly become delectably crispy.

    If you’re new to the browned butter experience, drop everything, and head to the kitchen. I won’t wax poetic about it again, but just trust me. Drop everything.

    Toss the boiled gnocchi in the browned butter and serve, topped with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan and a pinch of sea salt.

    Ingredients

    • Pumpkin Gnocchi
    • …with browned butter + crispy sage
    • 1 cup pumpkin puree (if canned, be sure to choose 100% pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling)
    • 1 egg
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1 1/2 cup flour (approximately), plus more for hands and work surface
    • 3 tbsp butter
    • 1/4 cup sage leaves
    • parmesan cheese, grated, for sprinkling on top (optional)
    • sea salt, to finish

    Preparation

    1. Set a large pot of water to boil. In a medium sized bowl, combine pumpkin, egg, salt and nutmeg. Add the flour in several additions, stirring to combine. Continue adding flour until the dough is firm enough to handle, but still somewhat sticky.

    2. With floured hands, pinch off about a quarter of the dough. Roll between palms and on floured work surface to make a 1-inch thick rope. Cut rope rope into 1-inch pieces. Repeat with remaining dough.

    3. Drop gnocchi into boiling water and cook until they rise to the surface, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan. Add sage leaves and cook, swirling frequently, until butter browns. Remove from heat.

    4. Drain gnocchi on paper towels, then add to brown butter and toss. Serve sprinkled with parmesan and sea salt, if desired.

    5. Serves 4 as an appetizer or side dish; serves 2 as a main course.

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