Making Pumpkin Gnocchi with Pumpkin Seed Pesto
The past week hadn’t been pleasant; my mom was hospitalized for her gastritis acting up at 2AM which made it difficult for her to breathe - I can write a wall on how an inflamed stomach can cause shortness of breath but then again this is, first and foremost, still a cooking blog so I’ll refrain. I also got pulled over yesterday for apparently having ran a red light - which is a total lie on the police’s behalf because there were still 2 seconds left on the green light. I ended up paying anyways so no use getting all worked up about it anymore. I took my mom home from the hospital today and she watched me curiously from the bed at intervals as I worked in my little corner…so yeah, this is the first main course lined up for the vegan post. I honestly felt like a 60 year old housewife when making this pasta from scratch. I used pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts for the pesto because I couldn’t find pine nuts in the major supermarkets. I’ve never liked pesto but I find this one tolerable, especially when paired with the subtle sweetness from the pumpkin gnocchi. Definitely worth a try.
[ 1 small (1 lb) pumpkin + 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder + 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg + 1 clove of garlic, crushed or grated + 2 cups all purpose flour ]
* Preparing the pumpkin:
Cut the pumpkin into halves. Scoop the seeds and strings out using a spoon.
Cut into one inch slices and fit into a baking tray.
Brush each slices with olive oil and bake at 450F for 30-40 minutes, or until soft. Leave to cool.
* Making the gnocchi dough:
Scoop out the pumpkin flesh using a spoon and put into a bowl. Mash with a fork and add in the cinnamon, nutmeg and garlic. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Add in the flour. Working quickly and gently, use a bench scraper or a fork to reach underneath the ingredients and lightly toss them together. Continue fluffing the ingredients without kneading them, using the scraper and your free hand, until the mixture resembles very coarse crumbs.
The dough will be soft and tacky. Don’t be tempted to add more flour because this will make your gnocchi too chewy and will compromise the flavour.
Shape into a ball and wrap in cling-film. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.
Take the dough out of the fridge and liberally flour your work surface.
Begin kneading very lightly. If the dough feels sticky, sprinkle on a little more flour, but as little as necessary to form a dough that is moist but firm and not sticky.
When the dough feels like a soft pillow, cut into 4s and shape into a ball. Shape each ball into a thick log about 8 inches long, each with a 3/4-inch diameter.
Working with 1 round at a time, cut the rope into ¾-inch-square nuggets, or gnocchos.
* Shaping the gnocchi:
Honestly, there are many ways in which one can shape a gnoccho. The easiest one would be to take a nugget, and press a fork on it to leave the impression of the tines.
The traditional way would be to gently press a small nugget of dough against a a fork with your thumb; by pressing with a slight forward motion, you can make the gnocchi curl like a C.
It’s a bit difficult to explain in detail, so I’ll leave you with some pictures of when I did it and a link to a video of it being done.
*Cooking the gnocchi:
Boil some salted water in a pan. Drop the gnocchi, 10 at a time, into the boiling water.
When the gnocchi floats, give it another minute before taking them out using a slotted spoon and dropping them into some cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.
Pumpkin Seed Pesto:
[ 1 1/2 cups hulled pumpkin seeds or pepitas + 5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cup fresh basil leaves 1 cup olive oil + 1 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste ]
Just like any other pesto, all you need to do is blitz these ingredients inside a food processor (or use a pestle and mortar) to make a paste.
[ A few stalks of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces + 1 teaspoon olive oil + 1 clove of garlic, sliced + pumpkin gnocchi + salt & pepper to taste ]
In a frying pan, heat the oil and sautee the garlic. Add in the asparagus and cook for 3 minutes.
Add in the gnocchi and season to taste. Transfer to a bowl and put in 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoon of pesto and toss to coat evenly. Scatter some pumpkin seed on top to garnish.
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