Sunday, December 6, 2009

I've been a bad blogger. Can I make it up to you with Pumpkin Gnocchi?

Who else is already overwhelmed by the most precious season of the year?

Luckily, I do feel the Christmas spirit alive and well within my heart, but Good Lord the holiday seems like more to manage than ever before for some reason this year. Tell me if anyone out there feels this too?

Anyway, I had ambitious plans for a chicken curry tonight but after a day of Christmas shopping, tree hunting, and house cleaning, those fell by the wayside. A glass of red wine and quick dinner were what was called for.

Luckily I had the best cook's crutch in the whole wide world - Murray's Cheese. A package of their homemade pumpkin gnocchi along with some goat cheese from Vermont Butter and Cheese Company and I was on my way.

Gnocchi, if you've never had it, means 'lump' in Italian and are pillowy little lumps of either potato, wheat, or flour dough. They are best homemade though this doesn't have to mean by you. Your favorite Italian restaurant or deli/bakery will do just fine. Gnocchi are one of those whimsical ingredients that delight you in their cooking. When you add them a pot of boiling water, they sink to the bottom like free weights. But after a few minutes, they gracefully rise to the surface peeking their heads out of the water to shout 'I'm done!"

Please don't think that just because these particular gnocchi are pumpkin flavored means this is a sweet and savory dish. It's not. In fact, just to show off pumpkin's versatility I like to add extra fresh cracked black pepper and a hit of red pepper flakes to the final product.

Finally, I feel a little guilty adding this recipe to my 'all star' list seeing that the gnocchi was made by Murray's. So I tell you what - I promise to get to the bottom of their recipe and share it with you, deal?

PS - If you dislike goat cheese, you can sub ricotta. But then I'd also add a handful of grated parm to give SOME sort of bite.

Fresh Pumpkin Gnocchi with Goat Cheese, Basil, Pine Nuts, and Lemon Zest

16 Oz Fresh Pumpkin
handful sea salt or kosher salt, for pasta water
drizzle olive oil
fresh grated nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon
good grating fresh cracked pepper
2 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 bunch fresh basil, rinsed and roughly torn - about 1/2-2 cups
sea salt to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste

Put a medium pot of water to boil over high heat. Once boiling, add a handful of sea salt or kosher salt and let come back to a boil if it weakens. Add the gnocchi, keeping a close eye on it. It will only take a matter of minutes, though once they rise to the surface I like to wait an additional 2 minutes to be sure they're all done.

Meanwhile, have all of your other ingredients at the ready. When the gnocchi are done, use a slotted spoon or spider to strain them into it, then drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Grate over the lemon zest, fresh cracked pepper, and nutmeg, giving a good stir. Then add the cheese, pine nuts, basil, and sea salt to taste along with red pepper flakes. Serve immediately - gnocchi doesn't get better with age.

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