Thursday, October 27, 2011

Feeding Friendship: Pumpkin Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Balsamic Vinegar

I've been meaning to make pumpkin gnocchi for several autumns but my last gnocchi experience left something to be desired.  The end result was pretty tasty but I found the process so arduous that I have never tried it again.  It is one of the few things (ravioli also tops the list) that I would rather leave to the pros.

This recipe from steamy kitchen, however, is quick and easy enough for a weeknight.  Weeknight gnocchi instantly deifies you as a certified domestic goddess.  The key is that this recipe is for a ricotta-based gnocchi so the boiling, mashing, and cooling potatoes steps are completely skipped in favor of a base of pumpkin puree, ricotta cheese, and Parmesan.

When adding the flour, I was as gentle as humanly possible.  This is definitely the time to get in there with your hands to minimize over-mixing.  The less you can possibly mix it, the lighter your gnocchi will end up.  Roll out gently and on a well-floured board and you have gnocchi in less than fifteen minutes.

The other key to this recipe is that the gnocchi are pan-fried instead of boiled.  Cooked in a very hot pan, the gnocchi get crispy on the outside while remaining soft inside and the textural contrast brings a lot to the dish (according to my inner Tom Colicchio).  After the gnocchi were cooked, I fried up some sage leaves which I crumbled over the finished dish.

Whenever possible, I like to make one dish meals so I cooked some thinly sliced crimini mushrooms in the finishing butter because, like gnocchi, mushrooms love butter and sage.  Some spinach would be nice too.  The splash (I used a glug) of balsamic vinegar added at the end makes a great sweet and sour glaze on the gnocchi.  Although the pumpkin flavor gets lost, these pretty orange gnocchi are worth the (modest) effort.

This recipe only used about a quarter of a can of pumpkin so I made this pumpkin bread with the remainder.  A very fall-appropriate breakfast in some very un-fall south Texas weather.

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