I had a roommate who lived off gnocchi alone, well almost anyways. She was the first person to introduce this foreign pasta pillow to me. Based on her description, I held these doughy nubbins on a pedestal of complication, thinking they contained a filling much like ravioli. How could one roll such a small encasement? It seemed impossible! When I finally ate one, I learned she was far better at architecture than she was at food descriptions. However, in some part of my brain, I maintained the idea gnocchi making would be laborious.
Then I went to a farm dinner, and I watched several chefs roll out dough at their makeshift prep table. Granted, that prep table surely cost more than most of my kitchen accoutrements combined, but still. There they were, far from their commercial kitchen comforts, pumping out dough pillows, and making it look approachable.
At long last, I made the gnocchi leap for myself, and much like making mayo for the first time, I now question why I waited so long. These little pillows are so, so, so easy, and the ROI, if you will business jargon friends, is high!
This bowl of pumpkin gnocchi exudes fall’s traditional flavors. I used a real pumpkin à la the Urban Farmer’s harvest and a special grainy gift from a friend- Heirloom Sonora Variety Whole Wheat Flour grown in Pescadero, California. However, if you don’t have farmers and wandering, wheat-gathering friends, feel free to use an organic canned pumpkin and an organic whole-wheat pastry flour. Be creative with your toppings too. This is not a recipe of the precise persuasion.
Let your autumn cravings be your guide!
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Gnocchi
1 cup pumpkin puree, from a roasted pumpkin
1 1/2 cups heirloom whole wheat flour
1 large, organic, cage-free egg
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Using your hands, mix everything together to form dough. The dough will be sticky.
Divide the dough into four sections. Roll each section on a lightly floured surface until about 1/2″ thick.
Cut the long rolled out sections into 1″ chunks. Dust the pillows with just a little bit of flour to help prevent sticking.
If you want the traditional gnocchi indentation, gently press the pillows into the prongs of a fork.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and ad the gnocchi. Cook in batches if necessary.
When the gnocchi begins to rise to the surface, it is cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and let cool slightly.
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Butter, Cranberry, Pecan & Goat Cheese
Note: Remember, this part is all very ad-libbed and imprecise, so follow your instincts and tastes. I highly recommend adding Speck or Prosciutto, which are not shown in the photo, or forgo the cured meats and make your vegetarian friends happy.
Irish butter (or another high quality butter)
A bundle of fresh local sage, chopped
Pecans, some chopped, some left whole
*Speck (Not shown in the photo but highly recommended)
Heat a thick-bottomed skillet on medium heat. Add a few Tablespoons of sliced butter, and whisk frequently. Continue to cook the butter.
Once melted the butter will foam up a bit, then subside. Watch carefully as lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, and the butter gives off a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and place on a cool surface to help stop the butter from cooking further and perhaps burning.
Pour the browned butter into a small bowl or ramekin with the chopped sage, and set aside.
In the same skillet, heat 1-2 Tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the kale, and stir frequently.
As the kale begins to crisp, add the pecans and cranberries, stirring frequently. Once the pecans begin to toast, add the cooked gnocchi. Add extra butter if need be. Stir everything to combine.
Remove from heat and stir in the sage butter with the chopped sage. Add in goat cheese crumbles and slices of speck.
Serve immediately with extra goat cheese crumbles, a pecan garnish, and a steady flow of red wine on the side.
You can do it!