Update 12/8/09 I’m thrilled to share that I’m a featured blogger for Oprah’s Holiday 2009!
This is one of those perfect perfect fall-winter recipes that you must make for Thanksgiving. Because it’s super-simple. If you’ve never made gnocchi before, please trust me that it’s easier than you think…please don’t be intimidated by the “gn”
Two throaty letters THAT close together sometimes scare me too.
But I promise you, it’s not bad at all. Here, let me hold your hand and walk you through it.
1. Mix together some canned pumpkin, lemon zest, salt, ricotta cheese, egg yolk and grated parmesan. In a separate bowl, add the flour. Now, here’s a secret shortcut. The recipe calls for “sifted flour” but I’m lazy. I don’t like to sift. I use a whisky-thingy to briskly whisk through the flour which breaks up any clumps. Does the same job. Plus, I like saying “briskly whisk.”
2. Add some of the flour (not all) You’re gonna mix with a spatula until the flour disappears.
3. Now add the rest of the flour and use your fingertips and lightly mix/knead. It’s a wet, sticky dough, but you’ll only do this for a minute. You can add more flour if it’s too sticky.
4. How do you know when you’ve added enough flour? Press your finger into the dough. It should be slightly tacky but clean. Then divide that dough ball into 4…and roll out with your hands one of the sections into a 1-inch diameter, long snake.
5. Cut into 1-inch pieces with a knife. Then you can use your fingers to lightly roll each piece to get them evenly sized. But seriously, this step is not necessary at all – you’ll be pan frying the gnocchi and any fancy handwork or groovy fork-marks will disappear anyways.
6. Heat a pan with some butter, add gnocchi pieces, fry until both sides golden.
7. After you fry all batches, clean the pan. Add new butter and olive oil. Fry the sage until fragrant. I like to remove the sage (you might like to eat that crispy herb and keep it in) Then whisk in balsamic vinegar. Pour over the gnocchi. THAT’S IT!
8. Shave some parmesan and serve.
See, I told you gnocchi was gneasy.
The secret to gnocchi is to have a light hand in the mixing. Overworking the dough will result in chewy, tough gnocchi. Use a spatula to mix the dough and then your fingertips to just turn the dough a few times to incorporate the rest of the flour. If you don’t have a flour sifter or are just plain lazy like me, use a wire whisk to break up any clumps in the flour.
The brown-butter sage is incredible – it’s a rich recipe, and only a little bit of the fragrant browned butter sage is needed (it’s not meant to be a “sauce”). The balsamic vinegar in the sauce gives it a nice tang that cuts through the rich gnocchi. Use a good quality balsamic vinegar.
1/2 cup skim milk ricotta
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup freshly grated parmegiano reggiano
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon zest (use a microplane grater) (plus extra reserved for garnishing)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted plus more for dusting (see sifting tip above)
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
3 sprigs fresh sage, plus more for garnish
shaved parmegiano reggiano for serving (use vegetable peeler)
Preheat oven to 300F
1. Combine ricotta, pumpkin parmagiano, yolk, zest and salt in large bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle half of the flour on the mixture, gently turn with spatula a few times to incorporate. Dump mixture on clean, lightly floured countertop or you can still do this in the bowl. Sprinkle remaining flour on top of the mixture. Gently knead with your fingertips, just bringing together the mixture until flour is incorporated through. This only should take a minute or two. Any longer and you will be over-kneading.
2. Dust a clean, dry surface with a generous sprinkling of flour. Divide dough into 4 parts. Take one part and roll into a long, 1″ diameter log. Cut gnocchi into 1″ pieces.
3. Heat a large frying pan or saute pan with just 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add a few gnocchi – enough to cover surface but not touch each other. Fry on medium heat for 1-2 minutes, turn and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Remove gnocchi, place on large baking sheet to put into oven to keep warm. Repeat with rest of gnocchi.
4. When all gnocchi is finished, discard butter/oil in pan and clean pan with paper towel. Heat pan on medium heat and when hot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add the fresh sage. Let the sage brown and sizzle (but not burn) for a couple of minutes until very fragrant. Remove the sage and discard if you want (or keep it in to eat — as many people in the comments below like to do!) To the pan, add the balsamic vinegar and whisk. Let simmer on low for 1 minute and pour over the gnocchi.
5. Serve with shaved parmegiano reggiano and a sage leaf for garnish.