Funny you should ask. A few people have hit me up for something like along these lines this season, so I finally broke down and whipped something up.
I have to say, I’m a huge fan of gnocchi for people who want to take the leap into fresh pasta making. (yes, they fall under the category of fresh pasta) They're easy and fun to make; a great project for kids.
They’re certainly not foolproof, but they are pretty forgiving.
I have one beef with gnocchi though, it requires a tool that only performs one job: a potato ricer. I don’t have enough room in my one bedroom apt. for uni-tasking gadgets, but there really isn’t another way to get great gnocchi so I make a rare exception.
Sure, you can use a food mill, but they have a tendency to somehow agitate the starch in the potato by stirring it while crushing it, making them gummy. A ricer just crushes it, resulting in lighter gnocchi.
And let me tell you, there is nothing like those tasty little pillows. When they are light and fresh, there is no substitute.
4 Russet (Idaho) potatoes
1 Kabocha squash (butternut, acorn, or just plain ole pumpkin would be fine too)
2½ cups Flour sifted. (+ more for dusting in production)
1 ½ tbsp Nutmeg, Freshly grated.
1. Roast the squash by halving length wise, coating it with oil, salt, and pepper. Place cut side down on a sheet tray and cook at 400 degrees until tender. Aprox. 25 min. Scoop out the flesh and set aside.
This is a sunshine kabocha.
2. Rinse the potatoes, and drop them into boiling salty water. Cook them until a pairing knife is easily inserted (around 25 min.). Allow to cool enough to handle.
*This step is key, DON’T overcook your potatoes, if they bust open and absorb too much water it will kill your gnocchi.
3. Using a paring knife, peel the skin from your potatoes, and squish them through the ricer into a large bowl. Next pass the squash.
4. Add the eggs, nutmeg, a hefty pinch of salt and the flour. (I also added a splash of amaretto liquor) Mix lightly with your hands until it comes together, Add more flour if needed. This is really where the margin for error comes into this recipe. The dough should be dry enough to roll out (see pic), but you cannot overwork it, or it will become dense and chewy. It is good to have a small pot of boiling water on so you can taste a sample. It shouldn't fall apart, and hopefully it's not too dense.
5. Now the fun part, in bunches, work the dough into long rolls (about the diameter of a dime) and cut into little dumplings. Being sure to keep everything well floured, or they will stick together.
Now you have gnocchi, you can refrigerate them for a few hours until meal time. They freeze pretty well too, which is why I usually make them in large batches. Gnocchi should keep frozen for about 4-6 months.
With my pumpkin gnocchi I made a simple brown butter and sage sauce.
For four people I put about 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted dropped in a small handful of sage leaves. They should sizzle and pop and smell amazing. As the butter browns, you'll notice they bubble less, that's because the they're running out of moisture and getting crispy. Remove the sag from the butter once they stop bubbling completely.
I know this pic sucks, but I wanted you to see roughly what the butter looks like.
Note the foam that forms on top, and the browned milk fats that settle on the bottom.
Now I dropped my pumpkin gnocchi into boiling water. Fortunately gnocchi come with a built in timer. When you drop them in they all sink to the bottom, give them a very gentle stir, and as they cook they will rise to the top. Once they're all sitting on the top, they're ready to go. It happens pretty quickly relative to pasta, so don't drop them until your sauce is ready!
I added the gnocchi to the browned butter along with a good splash of chicken stock and two more tablespoons of butter and some grated Parm to bring it together.
To finish, I topped it off with a little more Parm and the fried sage.