Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pumpkin Gnocchi (Kinda...)

Tonight for dinner, I decided to try out a recipe for making pumpkin gnocchi. Gnocchi is another one of those blogosphere fads that's going around right now (kind of like the flu) and it looks pretty easy compared to other pastas and also sounds really tasty.

I have never eaten gnocchi and have certainly never made it myself, but I decided to give it a try anyway as a starter recipe for pasta-type-food-things.

My experience with this recipe was kinda "eh." The result was tasty, but nothing truly phenomenal. The texture was soft when hot and pleasantly chewy when cold, but it really didn't impress me any more than just plain ol' pasta. It's definitely denser and more filling then regular pasta, and had that subtle pumpkin/nutmeg flavor, but it just really wasn't anything to write home about. Now granted, my dissatisfaction may have come from my reluctance to pair it with a fresh, homemade sauce. Many of the recipes for pumpkin gnocchi recommend using a brown butter sauce of some kind, but since Yaakov was fleishig and the thought of "brown margarine sauce" was just too awful to consider, I opted to just make the pasta and try it with various sauces already in my fridge (pasta sauce, parmesan cheese, etc.) or just eat it plain.

The other issue I had was in the actual process of making the gnocchi. The recipe calls for 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of flour and I found that until I had put in about 3 cups, the pasta dough really failed to come together as a proper dough. Even once I got it to a manageable point, it still seemed too sticky to work with. I just decided to use a very well floured surface and managed to form them into small dumplings that way. However, the dough was still too soft to properly roll out or to keep ridges. I just free-styled it after a bit and started making small shapes (like tortellini or just plain little dumplings) and it turned out alright.

So the question you're probably asking is, is it worth trying? It's hard to say, because I've never had pre-packaged gnocchi and I don't know if the dough was the texture it was meant to be or if I messed up somewhere. What I do know is that while it was slightly frustrating, it wasn't incredibly hard to make (the whole process took about an hour) and was tasty and unique. I'd say it might be worth a try if you're into that kind of thing, just for the experience.

Pumpkin Gnocchi taken from Closet Cooking

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups pumpkin/squash puree {I used canned pumpkin}
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups flour {This turned out to be three for me}
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch nutmeg (optional)
  • {I added some ground allspice and cinnamon, too}
Instructions:
  1. If your pumpkin puree is really wet, simmer it in a sauce pan to dry it out a bit and then let it cool down. {I did not do this, which may have been my problem}
  2. Mix the egg yolk into the pumpkin puree.
  3. Mix the salt and nutmeg into the flour.
  4. Mix enough of the flour into the pumpkin puree to form a soft dough that is not too sticky to work with.
  5. Knead the dough for a minute and then roll it out into 4 long thin rolls about 1/2 inch thick.
  6. Cut the rolls into 1/2 inch pieces and then roll the pieces in flour lightly shaking off any excess.
  7. Roll the pieces over a gnocchi board or a fork to give them the ridges.
  8. Cook the gnocchi in boiling water in small batches until it floats to the surface, about 2-3 minutes, remove and set aside to drain.
  9. Use as desired.

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