Gnocchi, pronounced gnawk-KEY, (dumplings) with pumpkin and goat ricotta is a classic autumn/winter dish when pumpkin is in season. Let’s take advantage of it before spring arrives, only a few weeks away! These dumplings are small pieces of pumpkin and ricotta dough, usually round or oblong in shape, which are boiled in water and then served with melted butter and sage.
Goat ricotta has more distinct taste and is more digestible than cow milk ricotta. And if it is organic, it is even tastier and healthier.
The taste of this recipe is delicate, a little bit sweet and inviting. Gnocchi is an easy, fast and light recipe to prepare, although you do need to take care in minimizing the amount of flour used.
I grew up making gnocchi al cucchiaio – gnocchi made with a spoon (a typical Lombard recipe) with my mom, especially on Friday. In fact, gnocchi is considered a weekday dish.
GNOCCHI DI ZUCCA E RICOTTA DI CAPRA (PUMPKIN AND GOAT RICOTTA DUMPLINGS)
450 g (1 pound) cooked, peeled and mashed pumpkin (about 900 g – 2 pounds raw pumpkin) (see note on how to cook pumpkin)
400 g (14 oz) organic goat ricotta cheese from Casaleroccolo
1 medium egg
70 g (½ heaping cup) grated Parmesan cheese
180 g (1 1/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour (or Italian flour Grade 00)
Sea salt, grated nutmeg and freshly ground pepper to taste
60 g (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter
8 sage leaves, cut into large pieces
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese to serve
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil (about 1 scarce teaspoon of sea salt per 1 quart (1 l) of water)
2. In a large bowl mix the pumpkin with the ricotta and egg with a fork until smooth
3. Add the Parmesan and season with salt, nutmeg and fresh ground pepper. Mix with a spoon
4. Add the flour and mix gently until it is completely incorporated. Be careful not to overwork it; the dough should be lighter and the texture softer if you are able to minimize the flour used
5. Drop teaspoon-sized balls of dough (using another spoon to scrape the dough) in the boiling water. Before cooking the whole batch, I recommend making a couple of tests to see if the dough holds together. Cooked gnocchi should be firm but not tough and should not fall apart in the water. If they fall apart, you should add 1-2 Tbsp of flour. If they are tough, then you’ve used too much flour, therefore when you add the flour keep one or two spoonfuls that you can add at the end! I find that the spoon method is easier and requires less flour in comparison to the rolling method, thereby allowing you to make very tender gnocchi.
6. Gnocchi are done as soon as they float to the top, after only about 10-15 seconds (no longer or they will fall apart in the water!!). Remove with a slotted spoon or spider spoon and place on a preheated serving dish. Repeat with the remaining dough and toss gently with the melted butter and sage. Serve immediately with pepper and grated Parmesan.
Note: Cooking pumpkin is much easier than you think. There are different methods: Roasting and Steaming. Roasting is my favorite one because it gives a richer flavor.
Roasting: Preheat the oven to 200°C (390-400°F). Cut pumpkin in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds and stringy material. Wash in plain cold water. Place the pumpkin halves on a baking sheet and bake for about 11/2 hours or until the flesh is very tender when pierced with a fork. Don’t worry if the edges are browned. The natural sugars actually caramelize and give it a richer more complex flavor. When it is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and mush it with a fork.
Steaming: If you don’t have time you can cook it in the pressure cooker for 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. – Paola