Gnocchi is a kind of dumpling and has many variations. Derived from the Italian word for "lumps" (pronounced nee-okkee), it can be made from just plain flour or have variations with spinach, pumpkin and even bread crumbs. The most common form (and popular) form of gnocchi is the one made with potatoes - gnocchi de patate. These small pillow shaped dumplings are usually made fresh, boiled and served warm with a sauce.
Making these seem to be an art form from all accounts, but the results are absolutely exquisite and well worth the effort. This is one of the recipes I have bookmarked as well as another from a friend in Oz who has been egging me on for a long time. The trick lies in combining just enough flour as is needed to bind the ingredients (spinach or potato or ricotta cheese) so that the flavour comes through and at the same time having enough flour in it to make sure they don't disintegrate while being cooked.
I have long wanted to try making fresh gnocchi have not yet got around to it - so when I saw a vacuum sealed pack of gnocchi de patate in the supermarket I pounced on it! Took me another week to actually plan a meal around it - and the big question was - what sauce do I make for it? The usual tomato sauce seemed a bit Blah for it...so I decided to make a pumpkin based sauce. The smooth, orange sauce was absolutely perfect - I added tomatoes to it to make sure it didn't become too sweet and the fresh basil from my little potted plant made this delicious. Ready made gnocchi takes just about 2-3 minutes to cook, so one has to be careful not to leave it for too long. Also, make sure the sauce is made before you make the gnocchi, the gnocchi might stick to each other if you keep it around too long.
I am sending this to Andrea's Grow Your Event which is in it's 37th edition and is being hosted by her- the last edition for 2009.
Gnocchi de patate - 200 gms
For the Pumpkin & Basil Sauce
Pumpkin - 1.5 cups chopped - about 200gms
Tomatoes - 3-4 medium, blanched, peeled and chopped
Onion - 1, finely chopped
Garlic - 6 cloves finely minced
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Dried herbs - 1/2 tsp
Freshly crushed black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Basil leaves - 5-6
Fresh Cream - 1/2 cup
Parmesan - 2 tbsp powdered
Salt to taste
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
1. Heat olive oil in a pan and add garlic, saute 1 minute and then add finely chopped onions. Saute till transparent and soft, then add chopped tomatoes.
2. Once the tomatoes become pulpy and soft (approx 8-10 minutes), add the pumpkin pieces and 1 cup water and bring to boil. Simmer on medium flame, covered, for another 8 minutes till the pumpkin pieces are cooked.
3. Remove from flame and cool completely. Blend in a mixer to a smooth puree.
4. Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi in plenty of salted boiling water as per the directions on the packet. Drain and toss with a tsp of olive oil and transfer to a serving dish.
5. Return to pan and add the chilli powder and dried herbs, a little water of required, salt to taste and bring to boil again. Once it reaches a thick, creamy consistency, lower the flame and add the cream.
6. Remove from flame, add the chopped basil and crushed pepper and mix till well blended.
7. Pour over the cooked gnocchi and serve warm with a sprinking of parmesan.