Monday, 7 November 2011

Pumpkin gnocchi in a tomato and mascarpone sauce

Yes another pumpkin recipe! It is the time of year though.

I was pottering around the kitchen a few days ago wondering what to make for dinner when the idea struck me to use a pumpkin I had sitting in the cupboard to make into gnocchi. If potatoes work, why not pumpkin? They both have the density to work them into a pasta. Turns out there are many recipes out there for pumpkin gnocchi, but they all seem to be with the same sage butter accompaniment. For mine I wanted a little richness in the sauce to contrast with the sweetness of the pumpkin. This would be a great vegetarian dish for a dinner party.


For the gnocchi
1 small pumpkin
120g plain flour
1 egg yolk preferably organic
freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of salt

For the sauce
150g mascarpone cheese
150g tomato puree
4 baby plum tomatoes, quartered
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, diced
4 tbsps olive oil
200ml vegetable stock
juice of quarter of a lemon
2 -3 fresh basil leaves
salt and black pepper to taste

Slice the pumpkin into wedges and place on a roasting tray lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle over a little salt. Place in the oven at 190C for 30 minutes. Remove when they start to turn a little golden. Remove the rind from the pumpkin wedges.

On a well floured surface, place the pumpkin and mash together with a fork until they start to come together. Pour over the flour, egg yolk and nutmeg and continue to incorporate everything with the fork. When it starts to come together, work with your hands into a dough. You need to use quite a light touch and work as quickly as you can or the dough can get quite dense. You may need extra flour and this will make the dough easier to work, but make the finished gnocchi heavier, so try to strike a balance between the two.

Shape the dough gradually into a long "sausage" and cut the gnocchi, roughly 2 cm  wide each. This will be easier to do if you coat the knife in flour before cutting each one.

Bring a pot of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt, and reduce to a simmer. Drop the gnocchi in gently and leave for 3-4 minutes. They will rise to the surface when they are ready. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water.

Add  the olive oil to the pan and saute the onion until it starts to turn translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 4 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn or it will have a slightly bitter taste.

Transfer to a food processor and blend into a paste. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and mascarpone, blend again. Finally add the vegetable stock, lemon juice, basil leaves and season with salt and pepper. Add a little extra stock if the sauce is still too thick.

Warm the sauce over a medium heat and spoon over the gnocchi. Serve topped with a little fresh basil.
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