Ciao Italia Family Classics
Mary Ann returns to her family's humble beginnings to bring us a treasure trove of more than 200 time-honored recipes.
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Makes about 160 Gnocchi
The Gastronomical Guide of Italy lists over a dozen ways to prepare gnocchi, which does not surprise me. I have experimented with many ways to make these delicate dumplings, including this one for Pumpkin Gnocchi, a northern Italian specialty. Italian pumpkins tend to be sweeter than ours, so I have substituted butternut squash. These make a delightful first course for a fall dinner.
The dough is rather soft, but produces a very light gnocco. Be careful not to add more flour than needed. How much to add will depend on the wetness of the squash, the size of your egg, the flour used, and the humidity in the air. The recipe was tested in my kitchen on a wintery Saturday morning and used the amount of flour listed, but it is only a guide. Like potato gnocchi, these can be rolled off the tines of a fork at lightning speed, or fashioned delicately between the palms of your hands. They have a slightly sweet flavor that complements the rosemary sauce.
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash
1 large egg
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup finely crushed amaretti cookies (about 6 cookies)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 to 2 1/2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose FlourSAUCE
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
3 large fresh rosemary sprigs
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and stringy membrane, and discard. Place the squash cut side down in a baking dish and add about 1/2 cup water. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake until the squash is tender, about 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove the squash from the oven and let cool completely. Scoop the flesh from the squash halves and place in a small sieve over a bowl. Press on the squash with a spoon to remove as much water as possible. There should be about 1 1/4 cups well-drained squash. Place the squash in a bowl and add the egg, cheese, amaretti, and nutmeg. Mix well to combine.
On a work surface, place 2 cups of flour in a mound and make a well or hole in the center. Scoop the squash mixture into the well and gradually begin adding the flour into the squash until you have a ball of dough. If you need more flour, add it a little at a time. This is a soft dough and too much flour will yield a heavy dumpling.
To test for the right amount of flour, form a dumpling by pinching off a 1-inch piece, rolling it gently into an oblong shape, and placing it in a small pot of boiling water. If it holds together and does not disintegrate in the water, the flour-egg ratio is fine. If it falls apart, add more flour.
On a well-floured surface and with well-floured hands, knead the dough gently until it is smooth. Roll it into an 8-inch log. Cut the log into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll each piece into a 20-inch-long rope about 1 inch wide.
Cut each rope into forty 1/2-inch pieces and press each piece gently against the tines of a fork, or roll between the palms of your hand into a 1-inch long oblong. Place the pieces on a floured towel. Let the gnocchi rest 15 minutes.
In a skillet, melt the butter, add the rosemary sprigs, and swirl them in the butter for several minutes to infuse the butter with their flavor. Remove the sprigs and discard. Keep the sauce covered and warm.
In 6 quarts of boiling water, cook the gnocchi until they rise to the surface, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain carefully using a serrated spoon. Place the gnocchi in a serving platter and pour the butter sauce over them. Serve immediately.
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