Friday, 26 October 2012
"Dolcetto o Scherzetto?" Gnocchi di Zucca ( Delicious Pumpkin Gnocchi)
It's rose hips, chestnuts, quince and berries time. It's time to say goodbye to Summer time, sunny days and seaside time. It's time to remember... days in the sun, smiles, happiness, being together... it's time to remember the past and rejoice in the gifts of the new season.
I don't mind Halloween but, to be absolutely honest, until I came to live in this country, I had never seen a pumpkin, in Southern Italy!
But now... under the influence of American soaps, on Halloween, believe it or not, you will get, in Italy, children knocking on your door asking for: "Dolcetto o scherzetto?" "Trick or treat?" The unthinkable has happened! What next?
When my poor little boy Lawrence decided to go trick or treating for the first time, I wasn't happy. I never liked the idea of my child knocking on people's doors to ask for sweets (what's the point, anyway?) Poor boy, he knocked on the door of a Jehovah Witness, can you believe it? He gave him and his friends a good telling off and a handful of leaflets. He was so upset when he came home in his little costume, I could have cried!
All the supermarkets and greengrocer's, here in UK are filled with the gifts of the season, amongst which pumpkins of every colour, shape and size! Had my mother ever cooked anything with a pumpkin? NEVER! Had a pumpkin ever entered our home? NO! The only pumpkin I had ever seen, in the sunny, hot Southern Italy, was the one which turned into Cinderella's coach. It made such an impression on me!
This year I decided to cook with pumpkins, like I did a year ago, when I made (for this blog) a savoury pumpkin "cake." In fact, last weekend, I made a couple of delicious gnocchi dishes using pumpkin as a main ingredient. Obviously dishes from Northern Italy, land of colder climates and heavier food. I do love gnocchi, though, so... "Scherzetto o dolcetto?" Here are my lovely autumnal recipes!
Gnocchi di Zucca al Formaggio
(Pumpkin Gnocchi with a Blue Cheese Sauce)
1 kg (2 lb, 4 oz) pumpkin
200 g (7 oz) Plain flour
For Sauce # 1
5 tbsp milk
100g (3 1/2 oz) Gorgonzola-Mascarpone
(also known as Dolcelatte, soft Italian Blue Cheese)
I topped my dish with:
Some cabbage, shredded and fried in olive oil, garlic and
Before you start, preheat your oven (180 C, 350 F, gas 4) then cut your pumpkin in half, discard all the seeds from the centre, clean and, without peeling, cut into 2 cm wide slices. Place the slices in an oven tray, with some olive oil, salt and black pepper and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the flesh has softened.
Take the pumpkin out of the oven, leave to cool, then peel. The skin will come off every easily. Place into a bowl, add your flour, the egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg, if using, then mix, till you get a soft dough. If the dough is too soft, add flour, until you get a dough which can be shaped into a thin "sausage!"
Take a small amount of dough at the time, roll it till you get a "sausage" about 2 cm in diameter. With a knife, cut it into small pieces, about 3cm long. Using the back of a fork, or even a cheese grater, gently press down each one of your gnocchi, till you get a pattern and the characteristic gnocchi shape, as you can see in my picture ( I used a small wooden tool I bought in Italy, to get a ridgy pattern on my gnocchi) and... that's all there is to it!
Cook your gnocchi in plenty of salted water. Add to the water, as soon as it comes to the boil. Your gnocchi will be ready when it begins to float (only takes seconds!)
I made a simple sauce by warming some milk in a pan ( recipe above) and then adding my cheese.
When this was melted, I added the drained gnocchi, some Parmesan, of course and, to add extra texture, I also added some shredded cabbage, I previously fried in oil and garlic! A generous helping of dried chillies made my dish look and taste magnifico!
Salsa con Zucca e Patate
Pumpkin and Potato Sauce Gnocchi
5 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp passata
50 g ( 2 oz) pancetta
200 g (7 oz) raw pumpkin
3 potatoes, peeled and diced
Place your oil in a saucepan. When hot, add the onion and pancetta, and cook until golden and crispy. Add your potato, pumpkin and passata. Stir, then add salt and pepper. Stir to mingle all the flavours, then add some warm water, enough to cover the vegetables and bring to the boil. Turn down and cook until the pumpkin and the potato become soft.
This is all there is to this sauce.
When the sauce is almost done, put some water in a largish pan and wait for it to boil. Cook your gnocchi until they come to the surface, drain and serve with the sauce, lots of lovely grated Parmesan and black pepper. I also added some of the shredded cabbage I used in the previous recipe, with lots of lovely dried chilli flakes, which I love!