by the handful

Nutritious culinary and healing recipes collected from the North American garden, orchard, forest, river and ocean

Pumpkin Gnocchi

Okay, so I don’t make gnocchi all that often. They are well… pretty darn good but I am not always in the mood to put in the effort it takes to prepare them. They really are not all that much work honestly but there are usually better ideas that are more worthwhile. I am a huge fan however of fall flavor and I use pumpkin quite a bit and am always looking for a creative way to work it into common dishes. The traditional gnocchi uses mostly flour and cooked and then smashed russet potatoes. Pumpkin puree is much stickier and wetter than the potatoes and the flour used is the ultra light Semolina flour. Attempting to alter this type of preparation is a project that I could easily see myself making numerous times to get it just right but I really wanted to limit that. I figure I will need to add more flour to compensate for the additional moisture. A pretty useful light fluffy and yet sticky flour mix that I have used before (but don’t remember where or what for) was 50/50 sweet rice flour to brown rice flour. It proved to be a decent mix and it worked pretty good right off the bat.

Pumpkin Gnocchi

1 large russet potato

1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or recipe link)

1 cup sweet rice flour, plus a little more for dusting

1 cup brown rice flour 

1 egg

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 rounded tsp cinnamon 

1/4 rounded tsp nutmeg

butter 

About 2 hours before getting started, place oven rack in middle position and turn oven to 375. Poke holes in potato, and cook for 60-90 minutes on a baking sheet. Check doneness with a knife. Cut the potato in half and let sit for at least 30 minutes to cool before beginning recipe.

Peel potato and use smaller cheese grating setting on a box grater to finely grate the entire potato. If the potato falls apart just keep mushing it through the holes. This step really helps adds some lightness and fluffiness to the overall gnocchi texture.

Add only 3/4 cup of each rice flour to a cutting board in a pile and sprinkle the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt over it. Sift with hand and then make a circular pile. Add in the grated potato to one side and the pumpkin puree to the other. Drop the egg in the middle and mix the dough with a fork, slowly bringing in flour from the outside in. When the mix begins to get crumbly, ditch the fork and begin mixing with hands, kneading like any other bread dough. We are looking for the consistency of bread or pizza dough which is soft and dense, not too sticky. Add more flour as necessary to keep dough from becoming sticky.

Place a small pile of rice flour on a corner of the cutting board and use as needed in areas where dough becomes sticky. Don’t be afraid to use the rice flour liberally. When dough is ready, use a tablespoon to measure out the gnocchi. A heaping tablespoon (essentially a ball) is a good size for each.

Next, kneed each gnocchi by first rolling in a little rice flour and then forming to the shape of a tater tot. Really work them to get the cracks smoothed out. Press a fork into 2 sides and continue to form. Set each aside until your pile of dough balls becomes a pile of gnocchi.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Depending on the size of the pot it might be best to cook gnocchi in two batches. Carefully lower gnocchi into water with a slotted spoon without splashing yourself. They will only need to cook for a minute or two. They will float to the top of when they are ready to be scooped out. Place cooked gnocchi on a dry towel.

In a large skillet, add one tablespoon of butter and melt at med-high heat, till it just begins to foam. Once again it’s probably best to cook in two batches. Turn skillet to coat the entire surface with butter. Next, add the gnocchi and let cook while moving the skillet as to not allow them to stick, reducing heat as necessary. Check one gnocchi by turning it over. You want a little golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat when done and set the now ready gnocchi on a plate.

Serve with tomato sauce, pesto, mushrooms…………whatever.

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