Monday, November 2, 2009
Last week I spent a whole evening, literally from 7 pm until almost eleven, making gnocchi (pronounced, nyo- kee) for the first time by myself. For those of you who have never heard of or tried gnocchi it is an Italian name for a thick, soft noodle or small dumpling. It can be made from ordinary flour, semolina, potato, or a similar ingredient. I've made gnocchi in the past from ricotta but in tonight's dinner I chose to use gnocchi made from a seasonal ingredient, butternut squash. The process was straight forward. I halved the squash and roasted it in the oven until it was soft and the flesh easily scraped out of the skin. I let it cool, added some flour, nutmeg, salt, pepper, sage, and oregano. I formed the dough into a ball and quartered it into sections. Each section was then rolled into a long snake like a kid playing with play dough! Small pieces were cut from the long roll and formed with a fork into gnocchi. I chose to freeze all of the gnocchi to cook at a later time. Which brings me to tonight. In my freezer, I now have five 2 serving-sized bags of gnocchi. So, I decided I would try a different sauce each time I cook it. Sauces can be difficult but I was quite pleased with the result of this one, a pumpkin sage and cider cream sauce. I first finely chopped some shallots and garlic and sauteed them in some olive oil. I then added heavy cream and mixed in pumpkin puree, added a splash of chicken stock and apple cider, and seasoned it with freshly ground nutmeg, sage, white pepper, and salt to taste. The end result was a rich and creamy sauce with sweet notes of pumpkin and cider followed by the savory taste of sage. It was a nice compliment to the butternut gnocchi. For a side dish, I sauteed some green beans with shallots, garlic, and lemon zest and then tossed the beans with some roasted pumpkin seeds. Overall, this was a festive fall meal made with ingredients that remind me of Halloween and Thanksgiving. One can truly eat wonderfully while eating with the season. I will write about the sauces I make for the rest of my gnocchi so stay tuned! In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed reading about my dinner tonight. Gnocchi does take some time in making, but it only took three minutes to cook from frozen. It is a wonderful thing to make ahead and freeze so in the dark nights ahead, after you've returned home from work, you can sit back and enjoy a comforting, fast, and delicious meal!