Way back in the fall I began an experiment I called The Pumpkin Flour Project. Somehow I got it in my brain that I wanted to dehydrate pumpkin and grind it into flour. Why not? After all, people are grinding all sorts of things into flour- grains, nuts, even acorns! I love cooking, experimenting and "winter foods" so I guess I thought pumpkins would translate into flour fairly readily, plus one pumpkin should give me at least a couple cups of flour to work with.
Pasta dough seems simple enough and fettuccine is a great size and shape to work with. I have a plan for that. But first, why not jump in head first and go for something big and with a level of difficulty many cooks shy away from- gnocchi. As I did my research on gnocchi-making I saw the same thing repeated over and over "too hard" and "too difficult." What might be a deterrent to others is a challenge to me, and therefore I decided that my first recipe made with the pumpkin flour shall be.........Pumpkin Gnocchi.
Growing up we were the only non-Italian family in an entirely-Italian neighborhood. I remember playing at my friends' houses and seeing many tablecloths spread with gnocchi to dry. Seems like everyone's mother made them except for my German mother! Now it's my turn to give it a shot and it's going to be an adventure that I hope turns out deliciously.
To make the gnocchi you will need:
2 or 3 potatoes (Russets) washed well
1 cup flour (plus more for dusting)
1 cup pumpkin flour
Fill a stockpot with salted water. Cook the potatoes whole and unpeeled until tender, approximately 20 minutes. Peel potatoes while hot and scrape/mash with a fork (or use a ricer if you have it) onto sheet pan. Spread out and allow to cool.
Combine the two flours in a bowl.
In a large bowl measure out one cup of the mashed potato. Stir in the egg and flour until thoroughly combined.
If dough is too sticky, add flour a little bit at a time until no longer sticky. Roll the dough into long ropes, cut ropes into half inch pieces. Shape your gnocchi as you like. I made small disks and semi folded them. Spread out onto a towel that's LIGHTLY dusted with flour. Let them dry for a bit, as long as a few hours.
|I'm not so sure I'm happy with the pumpkin flour. There were|
quite a few bits that were like cornmeal and didn't blend well.
If I were making regular potato gnocchi I might choose pesto or olive oil and Parmesan cheese with herbs to dress them. Since this is pumpkin and a little "autumn" flavored I decided to go with browned butter and herbs- sage is my favorite to use with butter and I think it melds well with the pumkpin. Easy to do, all you need is a stick, or half a stick of BUTTER. Yes, you get the NO MARGARINE lecture again. For obvious reasons- you cannot "brown" margarine, so save your money and leave that chemical and water nonsense on the store shelf and go with butter. Melt the butter in a skillet, let it heat and foam and stir very often until it has reached a nice golden color- medium heat is best, if you cook it too quickly you will burn the butter. I tossed in a clove of minced garlic with the butter too- I wanted to bring something a little more savory into the pumpkin flavor. Remove from heat, toss in a good palmful of minced sage and toss with your gnocchi.
So, I suppose you are wondering how the gnocchi turned out? Paired with oven roasted chicken breasts seasoned with fines herbs and sage and Brussels sprouts, they were not too bad. The buttery sauce with garlic and sage were the perfect combination. Like many people say, when making gnocchi for the first time, it was a little dense and chewy, but they were cooked well and the pumpkin brought in some sweetness but not really a pumpkin flavor. I will definitely try my hand at making gnocchi again. I want to nail that light and airy dumpling texture.
Stay tuned, because I still have pumpkin flour, and I promise, there will be a Pumpkin Flour Project Part 3, and it's gonna be HOT.