Friday, 15 November 2013

I Did it My Way!

Gnocchi di Zucca & Patate "a modo mio"
Pumpkin & Potato Gnocchi "my way"

Gnocchi- so delicious when good- so heavy and chewy and bad when not! They are probably as much of a "love 'em or hate 'em" food as liver or octopus and possibly for a similar reason- people that don't like them do dislike the stodgy and filling consistency of the aforementioned "bad" gnocchi. Which means probably all store-bought ones and half of the ones you may get served in a restaurant. 

Nope, gnocchi are delicious little dumplings that you need to be making for yourselves! And despite what you may have heard, they are not hard to make, cost next to nothing and you can whip them up, quick a a flash! There are quite a number of methods to prepare them, so let me share with you the way I made these, out of pumpkin and potato and a little bit of love...

To make the dough for one portion of gnocchi, I diced-up one decent sized potato and 
and about the same amount in weight of pumpkin. I popped the diced vegetables onto a steam rack and into a saucepan and steamed them for 15-20 minutes until the potato was cooked- of course the pumpkin will be much softer- but that is fine ;-)

As soon as I had drained off the water, I pressed the pumpkin and potato through a ricer and straight back into the saucepan. Whilst they were still hot and steaming, I added first 2 tablespoons of flour and and stirred everything together lightly with a fork, which kept the mixture from becoming too "dense" and heavy. 

I added more flour, little-by-little and kept stirring, until it became "dry" enough to form a ball of dough and for it to come un-stuck from the edges of the saucepan. As soon as the mixture began to come together nicely, I took it out of the saucepan and continued working on my board, which I dusted with flour and then separated the dough into smaller pieces that I could roll-out nicely to about the thickness of my thumb. I then cut the dough into little pieces, ready to form into gnocchi... it was that easy!

As you can see, I used this cool little riffled board that I picked up in Sicily last year, but if you don't have one and want to make nice patterned gnocchi like these- that's no problem- you can roll them along the tines of a fork and get a similar effect. The way I rolled them was to take each piece of dough and to press it down onto the board (or fork!) and then roll it off- this gives you that nice, typical "folded-over" look. Also easy!

I let them dry for just a short while- just as long as it took for the water to boil and then dropped them in, carefully, but also rather swiftly, so that they would all be cooked and finished at the same time. I added a decent pinch of salt and kept my eyes on them... because when made fresh, you will find that they will be done and floating at the surface in next to no time.

As soon as they did come floating to the top, I carefully fished them out of the hot water and placed them into some cold water to prevent them from cooking to too long, becoming soaked with moisture and very heavy with it!

So now the gnocchi were made, I had to make up my mind how I was going to serve them and decided to keep things simple and quick. I halved 5 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped 1 Spring onion and briefly sautéed them until the tomatoes began to brown slightly, then added the gnocchi... Drama!

I carefully tossed and stirred the gnocchi around until they became lightly brown, then added a nice handful of grated Pecorino and gently stirred that in too. Of course the cheese soon melted and gave everything a nice glaze and all I needed to do now was to plate up, add a few leaves of basil, a nice final grind of black pepper and sprinkle of grated Pecorino and was good to go!

And the gnocchi were too! Make sure to give them a try and you will see just how quickly  they get eaten up and how broadly everyone smiles... but you most of all!

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