Pumpkin Gnocchi With Sage and Walnuts

Posted by on Nov 21, 2011 in Farm Blog, Farm Recipes | 23 comments

We seem to have an overabundance of heirloom winter squash to use up this fall.  We’ve already made a beautiful lasagna, and flavorful risotto with some of the squash, and no doubt the rest will find their way into an assortment of soups, ravioli, pizza, or puff pastries, but this weekend we decided to try turning one of our Galeux d’Eysines pumpkins into some fresh homemade gnocchi (pronounced nyoh-kee).

Heirloom Galeux d’Esyines

When first cut Galeux d’Eysines has a sweet aroma that was almost reminiscent of melon.

The flesh of Galeux d’Eysines is a vibrant orange

For the gnocchi we roasted the squash first, to make it easier to work with, but allowed the squash to drain for at least an hour before incorporating it into the dough.

When incorporating winter squash into doughs, it’s important to realize that a significant portion of the weight in winter squash is water.  Once the squash is cooked, much of this water will leach out, and this can result in an overly-saturated dough if it’s not drained first.

Winter squash can hold a lot of water, so it’s important to drain it!

This dough also uses ricotta cheese, to bring a lighter, more mild flavor to the gnocchi, and to further reduce the risk of the dough becoming too wet. You can omit the ricotta cheese if you prefer, and make up the volume with additional squash puree, but be sure the winter squash you use has been well drained.

Galeux d’Eysines roasted beautifully, and the flesh was remarkably sweet, with no bitterness, and a delightfully smooth texture.  This squash is a stand-out on its own for flavor, so if you enjoy a simple roasted squash, this is not one you’ll need to ‘hide’ in something.  That said, it does make beautiful, and delicately flavored gnocchi too!

Yield: Serves 10-12 (10 Gnocchi pieces per serving)

Gnocchi Dough:

1 Cup Winter Squash Puree
1 Cup Ricotta Cheese, drained
1 Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
2 Large Egg Yolks
1 Teaspoon Orange (or Lemon) Zest
Pinch of Nutmeg, fresh ground
2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
2-3/4 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour, sifted (more as needed)

Butter Sauce:

3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Sage (and extra leaves for garnish)
1/4 Cup Reserved Gnocchi Cooking Liquid
3 Tablespoons Rough-chopped Walnuts, toasted
Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Prepare the Squash:

Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Split the squash in half, scoop the seeds, and place cut side up on a baking sheet.  Brush the cut surface lightly with olive oil, and roast, uncovered, until lightly golden, and the flesh is fork tender (approx. 40-60 minutes).

First, roast the squash

Allow the squash to cool enough to be handled, and scoop the flesh away from the skin.

The color of the flesh intensifies with cooking

Run the squash briefly through a food processor or blender until smooth.

Puree the roasted squash just until smooth

Place the squash in a fine mesh sieve, and set over a large bowl.

Allow the puree sufficient time to drain. Don’t rush this step!

Leave to drain for at least an hour.  This step is critical, or the dough will be too soft.

Drain the ricotta of excess whey before making the dough

This is also a perfect time to drain the ricotta cheese.

Prepare the Dough:

Place the drained ricotta and squash puree, along with the Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg yolks, orange zest, nutmeg, and kosher salt into a large bowl.

Squash, cheeses, salt, zest, and eggs

Mix together to combine evenly, being sure to press out any remaining lumps of squash.

The mixture should be evenly combined

Add half of the sifted flour, and stir until just combined, then add the remaining flour.

Add the flour gradually to avoid overworking the dough

Work the dough until the flour is evenly combined, but do not overwork the dough or the gnocchi will become tough.

Add more flour as needed. The dough should be tacky, but not wet

The dough should be tacky to the touch, but not sticky, add a little more flour as needed for the dough to be workable.

Shape the Gnocchi:

Generously flour a pastry board, and divide the dough into eight equal pieces.

Gnocchi dough ready for shaping

Shape each piece of dough into an approximately 1/2-inch thick log.  As gnocchi-making uses your childhood modeling clay skills, this part is fun for kids, big or small!

Now the fun begins!

Try to shape each log evenly down its length, so that each gnocchi will be the same thickness, and cook evenly.

Exact thickness of the dough is less important than the dough being even

Using a bench scraper, or pizza wheel cutter, divide each log into 1 inch long pieces.

Cut the dough into equal sized pieces

Dust lightly with flour, and set aside.

The gnocchi can be cooked at this stage, but to give it a more finished look, each piece of gnocchi can be rolled down the lower half of a gnocchi board.  As this is a light ricotta-based dough, don’t press too hard.  It takes a few tries get the feel of it, so don’t worry if a few come out a strange shape…they’ll still taste great.

To finish, roll each piece down the lower third of a floured gnocchi board

Alternatively, use the backside of the tines of a fork.

As each piece is shaped, transfer to a floured baking sheet

These ridges are more than decorative, they’ll also help to hold the sauce!

To Cook the Gnocchi

It’s important not to overcook Gnocchi as it will develop an unpleasant, gummy, glue-like texture.  Bring a large pot two-thirds full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the gnocchi just a few servings at a time, just until all the gnocchi in the pan begin to float (2-3 minutes at most).

Restaurants frequently overcook gnocchi. As soon as they float, they’re done!

Using a skimmer, transfer the gnocchi to paper towels, or a colander, to drain. Repeat to cook the remaining gnocchi.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water for the sauce below.

Sage Butter Sauce with Walnuts (per 4 servings – increase as needed)

In a large, deep sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter, add the chopped sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Once the butter is bubbling, add the gnocchi and stir gently to coat with the butter.  Do not allow the butter to brown.

Don’t brown the butter, just coat the gnocchi with butter before adding the cooking liquid, then reduce the sauce slightly

Add the reserved 1/4 cup of cooking liquid, and reduce slightly until the sauce starts to thicken. Transfer the gnocchi to a warm serving bowl, sprinkle with toasted walnuts, a little fresh-grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and serve immediately.

Gnocchi in butter sauce with sage and walnuts

To Store the Gnocchi

Gnocchi can be stored, frozen, for up to four months.  Dust a baking sheet with flour, and place the gnocchi in a single layer on the sheet.

Freeze the gnocchi in a single layer before transferring to a freezer-safe container

Freeze until firm (1-2 hours), and then transfer the Gnocchi to freezer storage containers, or zip top bags. Do not thaw the gnocchi before cooking, as frozen gnocchi retains its shape better while cooking.

Admittedly, gnocchi does take a little investment in time to make, but it’s fun to make on a rainy afternoon.  Yesterday we found ourselves with a little more squash puree than expected, so we made some extra batches to freeze. It’s great to have on hand for those quick five minute meals during the upcoming hectic holiday season.  Enjoy!

23 Comments

  1. Clare I am waiting to go to dinner with family and dealing with a 2 hr time change …starving is putting it mildly and seeing this is making me want to pull these out of the computer screen and plant my face in them…wow!!
    Donna@Gardens Eye View´s last post…Health

    • Awww, Donna, if I could figure out a way to send them through the screen, I would! :D

  2. Oh, can I please come to dinner at your house? Those look so yummy! My husband won’t eat pumpkin or winter squash, so there is very little chance that I will put the time in to make something like this just for me.
    Alison´s last post…Frosty Morn

    • That’s a shame. I used to be a squash-phobe. Some of my early winter squash and pumpkin experiences were less than pleasant. Some squash can be truly bitter, and unpleasant as is, although this particular variety is one of the most pleasant tasting ones I’ve eaten. If you ever did try to make this gnocchi though, I’d certainly make it with ricotta, as the flavor is less intense. Perhaps though your husband would prefer a more classic potato, or even sweet potato gnocchi?

  3. Wow, I’ve been missing out by not reading your blog! This recipe looks yummy, the revamped site looks fantastic, and now I really feel behind!

    We must get a bay area visit/round robin thing going. Next spring?
    stefaneener´s last post…Still kicking

    • Awww, don’t feel behind Stef. Sometimes life gets busy! I think a spring bay area round robin thing sounds like fun! :)

  4. Clare, I always associated Squashes with something you stick in soups rather than face eating them! The recipe looks gorgeous just with the images, like prints that would grace the walls a bijou italian restaurant. I remember the sausage plasticine days and liked to coil into snails. Squashed Pumpkin escargot gnocci anyone? :)
    Laura @ PatioPatch´s last post…Crane Spotting

    • I’ve met squash that’s only worthy of being souped. Part of why we grew such an assortment this year was to expand my squash horizon (although the butter sauce may expand my waistline somewhat :P ) I’d like to find some reliable, flavorful, winter squashes that aren’t bitter, with good texture, other than butternut. Galeux d’Eysines definitely fit that bill.

      I used to make snails with plasticine too, and to love the smell of a fresh opened box!

  5. I am so doing this, thanks Clare! I have a freezer full of roasted pumpkins and needed some recipes. Now I will have a freezer full of gnocchi, have only made them with potatoes before. The sauce sounds great, too. xo
    Frances´s last post…Thinking About Bulbs

    • I’ve been stocking up on ideas for winter squash, some of my favorites are…

      Lasagna. I’m going to make it again first before I post the recipe, but we recently made a simple winter squash lasagna (with homemade pasta of course) that was excellent!

      Working some roasted squash into a risotto with some saffron (or turmeric for those of us that are more budget minded) is a tasty way to use up extra squash as well.

      For something portable, as an alternative to sandwiches, wrap some roasted squash, with caramelized onions, mushrooms, wilted kale, and a little Gruyere in a puff pastry pocket. I took one of those to a Bee Guild meeting one night, and thought I was going to get mugged! :P

      • Thanks! Those all sound delicious. I am awash in frozen, roasted squash now and will get creative with it. I appreciate the inspiration.
        Frances´s last post…Thinking About Bulbs

  6. Oh me! I’ve never made gnocchi before, but I can see some in my near future. That last photo with the butter sauce had me wanting some for breakfast! We need to make some more butternut ravioli too, since that was quite tasty.

    We don’t have a gnocchi board, but I seem to recall you can improvise with a fork.
    Dave´s last post…How Hardy Is Lettuce – 2011 Trials

    • You can definitely use a fork. Just set the fork upside down, with the tines arching upward so the gnocchi rolls down the end of the fork. There are lots of videos on YouTube that demonstrate both the Gnocchi Board, and the Fork method.

      Except for waiting for the squash and ricotta to drain, it really is quite quick and easy to make, and freezes exceptionally well. I always get flour all over the kitchen when I make pasta, but that’s part of the fun :D

  7. Oh my…that looks so delicious! There is a lot involved, but I’m sure well worth the time and effort. You’re right it does look like fun to make. I’m sure my family would love it. Thanks!!
    Amy/GoAway,I’mGardening!´s last post…Thirty Day Challenge: Thanksgiving ~ Day 22

    • There are a lot of steps, but none of them are particularly difficult. When you’ve made the dough a few times it does become easier to gauge the texture of the dough, and how much to adjust the flour as you go. Some of that will depend on which squash you use. Shaping the gnocchi though is definitely where you can recruit some extra pairs of hands, and make the whole process go much faster! :)

  8. Clare, you’re making me so hungry! None of my squashes did very well this year. Not enough heat, sun, etc. I understand from the neighbors it’s been a fluke the two years we’ve lived here. I’m looking forward to seeing what the garden can do in a real summer. Btw, please include our house if you do a Bay Area Round Robin!

  9. I have never made gnocchi…you may have just inspired me to try it!
    Bridget´s last post…Sunday Ramblings from Prospect Cottage.

  10. Wow, that looks fantastic! Most of the gnocchi I’ve eaten has had that gluey, gummy texture – I guess now it must have been overcooked. Your fresh, perfectly cooked gnocchi looks amazing, though!
    Indie´s last post…You’ve Been Lying to Me

  11. You did a wonderful presentation of this recipe. If I could only find time to make this I would, but will keep it as reference. I like the freezing and storing info too.
    Donna´s last post…Month In Tens – November’s Simple Things 11-20

  12. Such a classic combo. Look Superb!
    Dewi´s last post…Our Backyard In November 2011

  13. What a post of the Gastronomical. I am now salivating and hurrying to print out this recipe with the fullon step by step images. Thank you Clare.

  14. Clare, that’s what I plan on doing next! Our largest Galeux has just developed a small soft spot, so day after tomorrow, it will have to find its way into the oven.

    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with many blessings.
    Diana´s last post…Heirloom Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

  15. Thank you for sharing!
    And I’ve noted the name of this squash! It looks beautiful, and I understand the taste is good as well.
    AnneTanne´s last post…The Picture…