Remember the roasted butternut squash last week, for the Cappellacci di Zucca? Well, I had some puree left, and I found a recipe for gnocchi in La Cucina di Lidia, so I decided to make some tonight. Note: I used the plain pureed squash, without the walnuts and corn butter that I had added to the filling for cappellacci. Making gnocchi is pretty easy, and it’s fun, especially if you happen to be in possession of a gnocchi board (cool, but not necessary at all). The technique is perfectly explained on this website, which includes a superb video clip.
I had about 2.5 – 3 cups of puree, to which I added one egg, and some bread flour (all-purpose flour is fine, but I read somewhere that high protein flour is a bit better for this, so I used what I had). I can’t tell you how much flour to use; you will need to gauge that by feel. It was probably 2 cups, but I am not at all sure of that. The keys to tender gnocchi are:
- do not add too much flour…it should be slightly sticky but not so much that is sticks to the board
- do not overmix…add flour a bit at a time, and mix GENTLY by hand or with a fork
- cut off pieces of dough and roll into logs about 1/2-inch in diameter
- dust with flour, cut pieces 1/2 to 3/4-inch long
- roll each piece on the ridged board, as shown in the video
- poach in salted, boiling water about 3-4 minutes, until they float
- don’t add too many to the pot at once
Many sauce alternatives are available. My choice for tonight was a riff on the classical butter-and-sage-leaf sauce. First, I picked a bunch of fresh sage leaves from my plant outside. Then I fried the leaves in about 1/3 cup of olive oil (still vegan this weekend), and removed them to a plate when crisp. I chopped 1/4 cup of organic walnuts and warmed them in the oil on low flame. As the gnocchi rose to the top of the pot, I scooped them out with a wire strainer and dropped them in the sauce. Added a little of the pasta water to the sauce (less than 1/4 cup) and boiled it down a bit. Serve in a pasta bowl:
For the wine, once more I turned to Jan D’Amore. An unusual wine — 2011 Alter Ego from Occhipinti in Lazio — 100% Aleatico (a red grape) vinified as a white wine.
I’ll tell you about the second course: Chinese stir-fry — with porcini-crusted tofu, Yu Choy, eggplant, mushrooms, and ginger-scallion sauce — another time.