I’ve wanted to try making my own gnocchi for a while now, but until now I hadn’t gotten around to doing it. I don’t know what took me so long! It really isn’t as time-consuming or tedious as I thought it would be and the resulting dumplings were soft, pillowy bites of deliciousness. I decided to make pumpkin gnocchi a few weeks ago but I was originally going to pair it with a béchamel sauce. I wasn’t’ really feeling it – it just seemed so heavy – so I kept putting it off. I never feel like cooking things that I don’t want to eat! Anyway, I saw that they had fresh, local chestnuts at the co-op and I wanted an excuse to buy them. I thought they would pair nicely with the pumpkin, and I decided that some mushrooms cooked in brown butter would lighten the plate a little as well as add another layer of flavor. While I was preparing the gnocchi, I remembered that I had some leftover prosciutto so I decided to throw that in too. The resulting dish was an amazing display of rich fall flavors that was extremely rich, without feeling too heavy.
Creating this recipe required me to learn to useful skills: how to make gnocchi and how to roast chestnuts. Lets start by talking about the gnocchi.
Like I said, it was a lot easier to make than I thought it would be. A few (surprisingly few) ingredients are mixed to form a soft dough, which is divided, rolled into long ropes and cut into pieces that are lightly smashed with a fork. Those are either boiled the same way you would boil store-bought gnocchi or frozen for later use. The entire process takes 15-20 minutes and can be done while you’re waiting for the water to boil. The process requires more hands-on activity than boiling prepared gnocchi, but it really doesn’t take any longer. It’s also cheaper – this batch resulted in just about a pound of gnocchi and used about $2 worth of ingredients.
Making your own also allows you to play around with flavors: for these, I used canned pumpkin instead of potato and used a blend of whole wheat and white flour. This resulted in gnocchi with fewer calories, more nutritive value, and a slightly sweet squashy flavor. Does this mean I won’t buy gnocchi at the store anymore? No, because I do like to have that on hand for nights when I just don’t feel like doing anything in the kitchen. But on nights that I want to make gnocchi and don’t hate the idea of cooking, I’ll make my own. And maybe someday soon I’ll mix up a huge batch to freeze.
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup white flour (approx.), plus more for dusting
- 1 generous dash of nutmeg
- 2 slices prosciutto
- 6 crimini mushrooms, washed and sliced
- 10 chestnuts, roasted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbs butter
- 4 sage leaves, chopped
- salt and pepper
To prepare gnocchi: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, combine the pumpkin puree, flours, and nutmeg to form a thick, soft dough (you may need to add a little more white flour – the dough she have the consistency of playdough). Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, use your hand to roll the dough into a long rope about 1-inch in diameter. Cut this rope into 1-inch segments. Roll each segment lightly between your hand to smooth rough edges and arrange them on a lightly floured cookie sheet. Lightly press the top of each dumpling with the tines of a fork to slightly flatten it and add some texture for the sauce to stick to. Repeat with remaining dough. Boil in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pot, for about 5 minutes or until gnocchi float. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon.
Meanwhile, cut prosciutto into thin strips. Place in a frying pan set over medium heat, and cook until they begin to crisp. Remove prosciutto from pan. Add butter to the pan, and allow it to melt. Cook another minute or two until it turns a rich brown color. Immediately whisk in 1/4 cup water. Add mushrooms and chestnuts to the brown butter sauce. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until mushrooms soften. Stir in sage and crisped prosciutto. Pour sauce over gnocchi, and toss well to combine.
Approx 233 calories, 5.7 grams fat, 5.5 grams fiber, 7.4 grams protein