Pumpkin Gnocchi with Apple & Sage Infused Cream Sauce

Some might call me crazy, that I'm sitting in my room with long sleeves on, drinking hot coffee, and devouring a bowl of hot oats, when it's 90º outside. I call it spirited. 

Like I said in my last post, I'm not a huge pumpkin fan. When these cooler months come around though, if they ever do, I like to embrace the warm flavors that come with them.

One thing I've always wanted to try making is my own gnocchi, which has to be my favorite type of pasta. You can read about how much I love it here and here. I've always been a huge dumpling fan. Chicken and dumplings, Matzo ball soup, anything bread-y or doughy, you name it, and I'll eat it. 
This probably explains why I'd much rather eat a bowl of cookie dough than the actual cookies...

After getting inspired by watching hours of Food Network and reading endless food blogs yesterday afternoon, I spent a good 3 hours in the kitchen. I should've taken a picture of what it looked like before I cleaned up. It looked like we had baking sheets and pans for countertops! I was so close to setting up a cutting board on the floor, because we had no room. Anyways, I worked on 3 recipes, one of them being gnocchi. 

I thought, what better way to utilize the lonely can of pumpkin we still had leftover from last thanksgiving, than play around with some fun combinations. Even though I'm not an avid pumpkin user when it comes to sweets, I actually really enjoy it in more savory dishes. 
Honestly, this gnocchi was really difficult to work with, but the consistency ended up really nice. I like mine very dense, like a dumpling. One time I went to an amazing restaurant and ordered gnocchi, looking forward to my favorite potato dumplings, only to bite into a light, ravioli type of pasta. You can say I was disappointed. 
It took a couple of tries to get the right density, and this dough is very sticky. You're going to have to spend some time forming it, but it's so worth it! 
Warning: Your hands will get very sticky.

Now let's talk about the cream sauce. Apple and pumpkin go so well together, and I really wanted a little sweetness to brighten up the heavy cream sauce. With the earthiness from the sage, and a touch of briny, saltiness the parmesan brought, it was truly a heavenly combination. 

After I took all my pictures (props to all the food bloggers who can make cream sauce look appetizing), I thought "hey, what if I made a baked gnocchi?" So I threw some Panko, olive oil, and more parmesan on top, threw it in the oven and I ended up liking the finished product even more. I still love how the original recipe turned out so I'll be nice and give you both...

Pumpkin Gnocchi w/ Apple & Sage Cream Sauce

For the gnocchi:
  • 8 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt & pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
  • more flour for rolling
For the cream sauce:
  • 8 oz. heavy cream
  • 1/2 red apple- 1/4 diced finely (but not no a point of mush), 1/4 sliced into strips
  • 1 tsp. rubbed sage
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 sweet onion- diced
  • 1 shallot clove- minced
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg & cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 tbs. champagne vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup (1 ladle full) pasta water from gnocchi
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
For baked version:
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs (or any)
  • 2 tbs. grated parmesan
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
To make the gnocchi, bring a pot of water, with a little olive oil, and salt to a boil. 
Mix the egg, olive oil, and pumpkin together. Slowly fold in the spices and flour until a dough has formed. If it is extremely sticky or wet add flour in 1 tbs. at a time until firm enough to roll, but it should still be sticky. To roll, pick pieces of about the size of a pecan, roll in dusting flour and form into mini dumplings. Set in boiling water 5-10 at a time, depending on the size of your pot. Once they come to top, let them boil for 30 seconds and set on a paper towel to absorb water. It will be a quick process!

For the cream sauce, saute the onion, diced apple, and shallot in olive oil, with all of the spices and herbs, until soft and cooked down (about 10 minutes on medium heat). Add the champagne vinegar and wine first. Stir and add the cream, pasta water, bay leaves, and apple slices. Bring to a low boil, turn down to a simmer, and let cook for 20-30 minutes (the longer the better), adding more pasta water if needed (i never had to but you might if it gets too thick). Take out the bay leaves, and apple slices. IF you want, you can puree or strain it to be more of a smooth sauce, but I like the little bites of onion and apple! Add the parmesan and stir until melted (1-2 minutes). Add more salt or pepper if wanted. 

To plate, pour cream sauce over gnocchi, top with more grated parmesan and a 1/2 tbs. of fresh chopped sage, or a sprinkle of rubbed sage.

For baked version, preheat oven to 400º. Mix thick cream sauce with 2 tbs. of pasta water or chicken stock, top with breadcrumbs and olive oil, and bake for 10 minutes. Top with parmesan, and broil for 3-5 minutes until crispy and golden brown. 

 I topped mine with a crispy (coconut oil fried) apple skin rolled in nutmeg and coconut sugar, which looked just like bacon... Now that I'm thinking about it, bacon would be delicious in this.
                                                                                                                          -Cecilia A.


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