Copyright Piacere - Food & Travel without rules! 2020 - Theme by ThemeinProgress
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.
When visiting a restaurant this time of the year in Italy, I always know exactly what I will order as an antipasto because zucca fritti is on the menu. The editable flowers of squash are stuffed with various ingredients such as mozzarella, anchovy or ricotta. They are fried in very hot oil and usually eaten as appetizers, although in my family it isn’t unusual to have them for a main course. Large platters of golden, crisp batter coated flowers are served and eaten with your hands. Accompanied with a glass of Prosecco or cold white wine, this dish is a delicacy. My grandparents grew zucchini in their garden and my grandmother made these all through the summer.
The US is a large producer of pumpkins (any type of squash flowers can be used), however it is difficult to find flowers for sale anywhere. I once approached a pumpkin grower and asked if I could buy the flowers and he looked at me very confused. Needless to say, he didn’t sell me the flowers. Since the female bloom produces the squash, the male bloom is sold for cooking in Italy. They are also used in stuffing for ravioli, and made into a delicious sauce for pasta.
Squash are grown all over the world and the flowers can also be purchased off-season, but are very expensive. Prices are lowest in season. If you are lucky enough to find them, choose only large fresh good quality flowers with stems. The flower is very delicate and must be handled with great care not to break the petals. You must first gently spread the petals and remove stamina. Gently place the stuffing into the middle and roll the petals at the top. Rolling the tops closes the opening and holds the stuffing inside.
The flowers must be completely dry before dipping them into the batter. I like to drip off some of the batter making sure that they are not to heavily coated. The oil must be very hot and dip only a few at a time.
The recipe below was given to me by a chef in Vieste, Foggia (Puglia, Italy).
Fried Zucchini Flowers
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3-4 minutes each
Yield: 14 flowers
14 large zucchini flowers with stems, cleaned
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white wine, beer or water with gas, cold
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of salt
14 cubes mozzarella, small
Sea salt for sprinkling over the fried flowers
Mix the flour, paprika and salt. Pour in the cold beer or carbonated water and blend until the batter is the consistency of pancake batter.
Remove the stamina in each flower and set it aside. Open the flower very gently and put a piece of mozzarella in each flower and twist the top closed.
Heat the oil until it is very hot. Dip a few flowers into the batter. Let the batter drip off the flour a little. You don’t want the flower to be to have a thick coating. Drop the flower a few at a time into the hot oil and let it fry turning it several times until it is golden and crisp. Remove them to a rack or paper towels and lightly sprinkle salt over them. Continue a few at a time until you have fried all the flowers.
Serve them warm as part of an antipasti (appetizer).
NOTE: A small piece of anchovy can be substituted or added. Other fillings such as ricotta can be used.