In Italy, the food grows plentifully. On a recent trip to a Tuscan villa, we found ourselves surrounded with figs, olives, cantaloupe, oranges, and herbs for the taking. Giant acorn squash grew in a patch on the terraced hillside next to our home; we were able to pick one and incorporate it into many meals. One of my personal favorites evolved into an evening long procession of gnocchi.
We roasted the squash off, let it cool, and mashed it together with flour, egg, and fresh ricotta to make a dough. Many hands formed an assembly line of rolling, cutting, and stamping. Each piece receiving a unique touch, imprinted with the aesthetic taste and love of the hands that formed it. Wine, always on hand in Italy, was cooked down with butter and leeks to make a light sauce complimenting the gnocchi’s sweet flavor.
When all was said and done, when the dish was laid upon the table for eleven hungry mouths, we had all taken part in the tradition. From farm to table. From hand to mouth. Family comes together over dishes like this one.
Ingredients: (serves 12-15 people)
Approx. 2lbs pumpkin squash (or acorn squash)
3.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup ricotta
olive oil for baking
hot water & salt for boiling
5 tbs butter
8 oz. dry white wine
1 cup chopped parsley
Slice squash into several pieces, dress lightly with olive oil, and roast at 350F for 1-2 hours. Remove and let cool.
Scoop squash from the skin and put it into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix together with the eggs, and gradually add flour until dough is no longer sticky and springs back when you poke it with your finger.
Working on a floured surface, grab handfuls of dough and roll them into long snake-like tubes.
With the side of a fork or knife, break up the long pieces into even-sized gnocchi pieces.
Roll the gnocchi across a cheese grater or use the tongs of a fork to make small rivets in the top of each gnocchi to help catch the sauce. When each is completed lay it out on a floured tea towel until ready to cook.
Heat a large pot of salty water. Drop pieces of gnocchi into the water in groups. As they float to the top, scoop them out with a slotted spoon, and drop them into a serving dish. Continue until all gnocchi are cooked.
To make the sauce, chop down leeks, and set them to sauté in the melted butter. Once they start to sweat out and soften, add wine, and reduce down to about half.
Thoroughly mix gnocchi with sauce. In true Italian style, add a few spoonfuls of the pasta water to thin everything out and spread it around. Stir in parsley.
Share and enjoy with close friends and/or family!
More recipes from the BLDG 25 Blog.
Check out Naomi’s blog Numie Abbot.