Gnocchi is a childhood favourite of mine. My brother and I would spend an entire morning with my Nonna (Italian grandmother) preparing the dough and rolling out enough gnocchi to feed an army of cousins over several months. It is a serious comfort food for many Italians and a small portion of these dumplings fills you up. It must expand in your stomach or something!
The dough is usually made from potato and egg, but pumpkin gnocchi is also a tasty option which adds another boost of flavour. (Of course, when making this at home you will omit the egg.) I made this dish last night, and a raccoon disliked the softness of the gnocchi and asked if I could do something to make them crispy. An experiment was born! I had a bag of panko bread crumbs and I eagerly breaded and deep fried the entire batch. What a glorious treat!
They turned out amazingly, crunchy, chewy, delicately spiced. Ahhhhh…
Homemade gnocchi takes a few hours to prepare, and if you want the shortcut recipe, buy premade gnocchi and skip ahead to step three.
For four servings
- ¼ pumpkin, cut into thin chunks
- water for steaming and boiling
- 3 cups wheat flour
- 2 tsp nutmeg
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Salt to taste
Step one: Steam the pumpkin.
Steam the pumpkin over boiling water for approximately 10 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft. Tip* to add an extra boost of flavour, add a few star anise pods and cinnamon sticks while steaming. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, mash the pumpkin into a paste.
Step two: Preparing the dough
In a large bowl, mix pumpkin paste, flour, nutmeg and salt and kneed into a smooth ball of dough. If the dough is still sticky, add more flour. Chill for one hour. Chilling dough makes it easier to work with.
Step three: Boil the gnocchi
Boil a large pot of salted water. Roll small pieces of dough in your hands and drop them into the water. Boil for a few minutes until they float to the surface. Remove and allow to cool so that you can handle them.
Step four: Breading
Toss the gnocchi in panko bread crumbs so they are evenly coated.
Step five: Fry them up!
In a large frying pan, or deep fryer, heat some vegetable oil and gently place each breaded gnocchi in the oil. Cook until golden brown, and then turn them for even browning.
You may eat these on their own or in your favourite sauce. I decided to make a simple garlic oil with fresh basil, though I’m sure they would be excellent with tomato, or even a coconut curry!
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.