Some recipes require cooks who know their way around a kitchen. We brought in a special guest chef, Butch Davis to give us his Pumpkin Gnocchi recipe. From the detailed directions given here, it is easy to see he has made it a time or two, and it uses many of our favorite, delicious ingredients. Special thanks goes out to Butch Davis for sharing his cooking expertise with us. It’s sure to be a delicacy and delight. We recommend to use the Marina Di Chioggia to make this traditional Italian pasta.
Recipe and directions provided by Butch Davis, Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania. At one time, he was a chef and has been cooking all his life. And, he is also an accomplished gardener and grows many of his own vegetables for use in his kitchen.
Basically, gnocchi is a dumpling made with a flavoring agent, be it potato, cheese, spinach, etc bound with flour and sometimes added egg. Most of the time an equal amount of flour to base flavor with salt and pepper (white pepper if you are making them with potato) and a seasoning grated Parmesan, or Romano (watch the salt with Romano), and Ricotta (if using the wet Ricotta that comes in tubs you will have to add more flour, dry hard Ricotta is available in most Italian grocers). Roasting the squash/pumpkin is preferred to cubing and boiling as the product comes out dryer and roasting concentrates the flavor. Use a good quality flour, I like King Arthur’s all-purpose as it has a higher gluten and protein content than most other brands or you can use a “00” semolina flour.
- Two cups roasted squash/pumpkin riced or pureed and left to cool overnight in the fridge (this is the untold secrete of great gnocchi no matter if you are using pumpkin or potato)
- Two cups + flour
- Optional : 1 cup grated Parmesan or dry ricotta or 1/2 cup Romano (this cheese is sometimes very salty and tends to dominate the flavor signature of the base.
If using wet Ricotta use 1 cup placed in a fine mesh strainer and let drain for several hours or overnight and you will need to add more flour a couple of tablespoons at a time.
- One teaspoon nutmeg
- One teaspoon salt (1/2 if using Romano)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine pepper
- One egg optional
Place flour on work station in a mound and season with the nutmeg salt and pepper and the grated cheese if using mix well with a fork and re-mound making a well in the center add the egg if using and the pumpkin and working from the edges of the mound begin working the flour into the wet ingredients with the fork. As the process continues, you will begin to get to the point where the fork becomes ineffective and will continue mixing and kneading with your hands. If the mixture is sticky or wet add in the flour a bit at a time until the dough forms a nice smooth ball. What you’re looking for is a nice stiff dough much like a pie crust dough in consistency, but you are working the dough here to develop the gluten versus very little working on a crust to keep the gluten from touching the crust thus making it flaky. Once you have a nice smooth firm dough place it on film wrap or a large plastic bag, flatten it out to a nice disc about an inch or two thick and let it rest in the fridge for about an hour (this is another secret to great gnocchi).
After resting, place the disc back on a floured surface and cut into 6 pieces and reform them into balls. Cover the dough balls with Saran wrap and a towel to keep them from drying out. Roll the balls into a “snake” about an inch in diameter or about the thickness of your pinkie. Cut the snake into 3/4 to 1 inch pieces and using your fingers and a fork roll the pieces making “stripes” into the gnocchi with the fork. This will take a little practice, but the stripes will hold the sauce much better than a smooth gnocchi will. Take a look at some frozen or packaged commercial gnocchi and you will see what I mean by the stripe or striations on the gnocchi. If you’re saving the gnocchi for future use toss the lightly in a bag with a bit of flour to coat and put them on a cookie sheet and freeze. When frozen put them in freezer bags and they will keep several months, longer if vacuum sealed. Otherwise, have a large 6-8 Qt. minimum pot of boiling salted water and drop the gnocchi into it and stir gently now and then until they float. When they float, frozen or fresh, wait about a half-minute and remove and drain briefly and serve with your choice of sauce.
I like a sauce for the pumpkin gnocchi made with shallots, garlic and sage in melted butter and a bit of olive oil.
In a preheated saute pan or heavy skillet over medium low heat, place a tablespoon or two olive oil and when shimmering saute two tablespoons minced shallot, a tablespoon of minced garlic, until fragrant. Add in a stick of butter (you can vary the amounts here of your fats, some folks just use the butter and others only use olive oil). It’s important to not scorch or burn the shallots and garlic, so keep a close eye on the process. Once the butter has melted and the foaming has gone out of it, place a half-dozen or so fresh sage leaves into the fats and simmer until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper and sometimes I like a pinch of Cayenne pepper for a “kick”.