Coming together for a holiday certainly revolves around the food we eat; especially in Italian families and for all those food lovers out there! But there is also another important part that truly makes the holiday special. And that is family; those that will be sharing this meal with me. My daughter is coming home next week and I can’t even tell you how excited I am to see her! She may be only an hour plus away and I may chat with her several times a day, but to have her back home with me makes me so very happy!
So while I’m planning ahead for Thanksgiving, I’ve also given some thought to preparing a few special meals for her and my son. The night before Thanksgiving I really want something quick, easy and comforting. Pasta is comfort food to me so I thought I’d prepare a batch of gnocchi to freeze ahead. Of course, I can’t just make potato or ricotta gnocchi during pumpkin season!
Making gnocchi takes a bit of time and practice to get the texture of the dough just right but I always feel it’s worth the effort. The roasted pumpkin puree should be drained well so that the dough will come together without adding in an excess of flour; a dryer puree makes for a lighter gnocchi. The Amaretti cookie crumbs add a gentle sweet taste to the gnocchi and should be processed fine to not create a “crunchy” taste in the gnocchi. I use a fork to roll my gnocchi but have heard of others using a box grater or a whisk to create the familiar grooves.
The pumpkin can be roasted a day ahead; normally when I’m roasting other things and will make the dough making day go a bit quicker! It’s hard to be exact in the quantities of the ingredients as it truly depends on the moisture of the pumpkin whether to add more or less flour. You will want the dough not sticky, but soft and light. To create the light pillowy soft gnocchi make sure again that your dough is neither too wet nor too overworked.
Just a small bowl of comfort, a mixed greens salad, a glass of wine and lots of laughter and love!!
Pumpkin and Amaretti Gnocchi
For the gnocchi:
About 2 cups roasted pumpkin puree, squeezed/drained dry
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon Amaretti Liquor
1 ½ – 2 cups flour, I used white whole wheat flour
½ cup finely processed Amaretti cookie crumbs
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoons salt
For the sauce:
¼ cup organic unsalted butter
10-12 sage leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
In a large bowl, mix the egg yolk and Amaretti liquor into the puree. Combine the flour and Amaretti crumbs and add to the dough, mixing with a wooden spoon to combine. Sprinkle a little flour on your board and knead the dough just until it’s smooth adding small amounts of flour as needed. Do not overwork as the gnocchi can become tough. Cut the dough into four sections and roll into long pencil shapes. Cut every ½ – 1 inch and roll into small balls. Mark the gnocchi by rolling it down the back of a fork or grater using your thumb to roll down then up forming the concave pillow shape. Place the gnocchi on a large lightly floured baking sheet. If freezing, place the baking sheet in the freezer and when frozen place in a freezer baggy for later use.
When ready to cook, heat a large skillet and melt the butter. Add the sage leaves and cook for several minutes. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi in batches if necessary for about 3-5 minutes or until gnocchi floats to the top. Fresh gnocchi will obviously cook faster than frozen. Taste to check for doneness. Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon to drain well and add to the large skillet. Gently toss and to combine well with the sauce; sometimes I will lightly sauté the gnocchi for a touch of crispness. Serve immediately in warmed bowls with Parmesan cheese and a few grinds of black pepper. Makes about 8 small servings.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.