As we delve deeper into autumn, pumpkins seem to take over our kitchens and our decorations. One of the most fun and delicious ways to consume pumpkins, is to add them to gnocchi. I personally prefer pumpkin gnocchi to the classic potato gnocchi; I find them easier on the stomach. They are so tasty on their own (partly because of the pecorino cheese in the dough), that they don’t need complicated sauces to dress them. A knob of butter with a couple of sage leaves is enough. One important thing is to choose a type of squash with less water. If you don’t have pumpkin, you can substitute butternut, buttercup or kabocha.
Ingredients (makes 3-4 portions):
One medium squash, about 900g or 2 lb
100 – 150 g/3.5 – 5 oz all purpose flour
100g/3.5 oz grated pecorino or parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil
A pinch of salt for the dough
Salt enough for seasoning the cooking water
½ tbsp butter
1 tbsp of hazelnuts
4 – 6 fresh sage leaves
Extra grated pecorino or parmesan
Preheat the oven at 220°C/425°F.
Cut your squash into 4, or 6, or 8 large pieces, depending on how large the squash is. Discard the seeds. There’s no need to peel the squash. Place the pieces on an oven pan lined with a baking parchment. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes, or until the squash is entirely cooked.
Remove from the oven, and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and as soon as the squash is manageable, scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Discard the skin.
With a fork, or a potato masher, mash the squash. Using an extra fine mesh strainer or a clean kitchen towel, let any extra water drip away from the mashed squash.
In a large bowl, mix the squash with egg, add the salt and the cheese, then gradually incorporate the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon. Add enough flour until the consistency is transformed from a batter into a slightly sticky dough. Cover the dough and let is rest for an hour in the fridge.
Generously dust a working surface with flour. Divide the dough into 4 sections, roll out each part with your hand so that you get a long sausage form, about half an inch thick. With a sharp knife or with a baking scraper cut the sausage into half an inch long pieces. Dust the gnocchi with flour as you work, and arrange them on a floured tray or dish.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, then add enough salt for the water to taste like the sea. Add the table spoon of oil and gently add in the gnocchi.
In a large pan, toast the hazelnuts for a minute or two. Remove immediately and bash to get coarsely chopped hazelnuts. Melt the butter in the pan, with half of the safe leaves. Keep the flame low.
When the gnocchi come to the top of the water, they’re cooked. With a slotted spoon add them to pan with butter and sage, mix well gently. Pour the gnocchi into a dish, sprinkle with hazelnut and grated cheese, and garnish with the rest of the sage leave.
Saghar Setareh is an Iranian food photographer and writer and award-winning blogger who’s been living in Rome, Italy since 2007. She’s passionate about Iranian, middle eastern, mediterranean and Italian food. She regularly runs cooking classes and photography workshops, and contributes to websites and magazines as well. Currently Saghar is working on her debut cookbook that will be published by Murdoch Books in 2022. You find her at www.labnoon.com and @labnoon on Instagram and Twitter.