pumpgnocciIf you’ve ever had freshly made gnocchi, perhaps you (like me) fell deeply in love with their creamy, delicate texture that melts in your mouth. The packaged ones you can buy at the store just never have that perfect texture. Gnocchi are little dumplings, typically made with potatoes and flour, but they can include all kinds of other ingredients from walnuts to nettles.

I have been trying pumpkin gnocchi recipes for a while now, trying to get one that works properly, and I think I’ve finally succeeded. Most recipes call for cooked pumpkin, and I’m sure they work pretty well because the texture would be consistent from can to can. But I wanted to use fresh cooked pumpkin or squash, because there’s always such an abundance of beautiful winter squash at the farmers’ markets. I picked up several gorgeous French heirloom pumpkins, as well as a fabulous Naples Long, all bred for their rich sweet flavor rather than for carving, and I grew some cute little kabochas in my garden this year.

Actual pumpkins release so much water when you cook them that it is really tricky to use them for gnocchi. You have to be careful with the ratio of pumpkin to flour – if there’s too much liquid the dough is sticky and falls apart in the cooking water, but if there’s too much flour they are tough.  Once I figured out the right squash to use, it was exceptionally simple and delicious! I’ve decided baked kabocha squash (also known as Japanese pumpkin) is the best bet for gnocchi, because it is very sweet and quite dry – when mashed, it has a texture similar to mashed potatoes.

For gnocchi:

1 1/2 pounds kabocha squash (or 1 1/2 cups puree)

1 1/4 cups flour

1 egg yolk

Salt to taste, about 1/2 to 1 tsp

For sage butter:

1/3 cup butter

8-10 sage leaves

2 cloves garlic, sliced

Cut the squash in half and bake, cut side down, about 40 minutes in an oiled baking pan, until tender.  Scoop the flesh out and mash with a potato masher while it is still hot. Stir in flour and egg yolk, just to mix in – don’t knead the dough too much or it can become tough. With floured hands, roll tablespoonfuls into oblong balls and set them on a floured plate.

Boil a large pot of salted water and drop them in, no more than a dozen at a time. They are done when they float to the top (just a few minutes).  Remove the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon and set directly onto the serving plate.

When the last batch is in the pot, melt the butter in a skillet, and toss in the garlic and sage. Let it bubble for a few minutes, until the garlic is golden brown, and the sage leaves are crispy. Drizzle the whole mixture over the gnocchi and serve. Next time I might try serving them with similar-sized chunks of roasted parsnip or rutabaga mixed in (and maybe drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar) for even more winter veggie goodness!

Blogger Amy White is totally obsessed with vegetables and  fruits. Amy can be found every Friday right here, and on her blog, www.veggieobsession.blogspot.com.

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