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This time of year when we are thinking about holiday menus, looking for something to add a new dimension to my Thanksgiving starts early. I almost always end up making the same thing because tradition is important to me. However the buildup to Thanksgiving has extended the holiday for the entire month of November. I like to make all those homey meals that highlight the autumn.
Whatever your level of cooking expertise, gnocchi are so easy to make that just about anyone including kids can make them. I prefer Ricotta gnocchi because they are lighter then potato gnocchi. Adding squash or pumpkin is perfect for an autumn version. You can just serve them with butter and you have a handmade pasta dish that will satisfy your family or guests. On the other hand, with just a few ingredients such as pine nuts and sage, you can make a condiment that brings out the flavor of the squash and adds that WOW dimension to this dish.
When planning a meal for a large group such as Thanksgiving, Ricotta gnocchi are a good choice because they can be frozen. With all the preparation that is required for a Thanksgiving dinner, this gives you a little head start.
I also serve them as a side dish with turkey, venison, chicken and pork instead of potatoes.
Gnocchi di zucca
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Yield: 6 Servings
4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of salt
2 lbs. ricotta
1/2 cup squash, mashed (frozen, canned or fresh squash or pumpkin)
Place the ricotta on a board or in a large bowl and add the squash. Add grated cheese and taste to determine if more salt is needed. Over-salt it as the salt is released into the water when cooking. However, you can’t remove salt if you have too much; add a little at a time and taste. Put the eggs in the middle of the ricotta, then begin to mix adding only enough flour as needed to form the dough into a ball.
Cut off a piece of dough and make tube shaped rolls about 1/2’ thick and as long as you want. Cut them about 1/2” long. At this point, press each gnocchi over the back of a fork pressing your thumb in the middle as you roll it down the folk. This will form the grooves down the gnocchi. This step is optional. You can cut 1/2” pieces and eliminate rolling them over a folk.
Note: Ricotta and squash might vary in liquid content. You add a additional flour if necessary. Also keep some flour for dusting you surface when rolling out the gnocchi.
Salsa di pignoli e salvia
Sage And Pine Nut Sauce
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 6-7 minutes
Yield: 4 Servings
12 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup pine nuts
Several leaves of fresh sage
Salt to taste
In a deep pan, boil salted water and cook the Gnocchi, it will take a few minutes to cook, so keep testing them until done.
While the water is heating up, prepare the sauce.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and the oil. Cut the sage leaves lengthwise and place them in the saucepan along with the pine nuts. Sauté them watching the pine nuts very carefully as they will brown very quickly. Remove them from the stove as soon as they start to turn golden brown and allow them to finish browning in the hot butter. If the sauce needs more liquid, add a little boiling water from the pasta.
Drain the gnocchi and toss them in the sauce and then enjoy.