Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Pepitas and Sage Butter

It's a scenario I face frequently - my pal Michael G, culinary genius, will post a picture of some scrumptious-looking foodstuff he created and I am compelled to make it myself as soon as humanly possible. Recently he posted an perfectly executed autumnal scene of pumpkin gnocchi tossed with roasted seasonal vegetables that set me slavering away at first glance, and after securing the recipe from him I set to work. My first attempt was...fine. Having never made gnocchi from scratch I was thrown by certain aspects of the process, like how sticky the dough would be for one, but I managed to make something edible. Subsequent attempts saw the pumpkiny pillows perfected. I love the idea of tossing the gnocchi with roasted veg, a la Michael G, but I ultimately prefer a more simple prep with browned, nutty butter, crisped sage and toasted pepitas. Serve as you like, but if you go the pepitas route, you'll want to make extra because they are an addictive crunchy treat. Goes without saying that you'll wanna make extra gnocchi too - I've had very good experiences with freezing them, so double away!

Dapper Owl plate from Rachel Kozlowski for West Elm

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Pepitas, Browned Butter & Sage
Makes 3 servings

 Adapted from the aforementioned Michael G!

*1 cup pure pumpkin puree
*2 tablespoons finely grated Parm-Reg, plus extra for serving
*1 cup flour
*1 egg yolk
*Pinch of sea salt
*Pinch of pepper
*Small pinch of nutmeg
*4 tablespoons butter
*1 smashed clove garlic
*8 leaves of fresh sage, some slivered 
*2-3 tablespoons roasted pepitas

Set your pumpkin puree in a fine mesh sieve to drain for about 30 minutes to an hour. To roast the pepitas, toss with olive oil and S&P and roast at 325 until browned. I tossed them again when done with a pinch of allspice.

Put a large pot of water on to boil (or two, which will cut down on time). In a wide saucepan, start to melt the butter over medium-low, throwing the garlic clove in as it cooks. Combine the flour and the grated cheese along with pinches of seasonings in a small food processor and blitz until everything is very fine. Combine the pumpkin and the yolk in a bowl, then add the flour in parts, working everything together with just your floured fingertips. Do not overwork! You don't need every last speck of flour worked into the dough, which, as I alluded to above, will be quite sticky. Flour your work surface and your hands and divide the dough into 3-4 pieces. Roll each blob into a long rope of about a finger's thickness, and cut the rope into 1/2 inch pieces with a floured blade or pastry scraper and place on floured wax paper. You can get fancy and roll them down the tine of a fork or a gnocchi board to get nice-looking ridges, or you can leave them shaped as is. Cook them in batches in the rapidly boiling water until all the gnocchi float, about a minute or two. You don't want to overcrowd the pot, which is why I advocate for the two-pots-of-water decision.

Meanwhile, raise the heat for the butter and as it deepens in color, throw in the sage leaves. Take out the garlic clove, season the butter with S&P, and as the gnocchi rise to the top of the boiling water, remove with a skimmer and toss into the sage butter sauce to sear lightly before serving. Dust each portion with freshly grated Parm-Reg and speckle with the pepitas.

*To freeze, simply drop the cut gnocchi onto a cookie sheet that has been covered with floured parchment paper, pop in the freezer, and bag when frozen through. Do not thaw when ready to prepare, just simply toss into the roiling water*