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Gnocchi Ripieni di Zucca - Tucked away in the Castello area of Venice we saw an intriguing display of pasta and gnocchi in the window of Pastificio Serenissima. We went inside and met the owner Ivan and he showed us his speciality recipes. He had invented a potato gnocchi that was stuffed with pumpkin and cheese. Pumpkins are available all year round in the Veneto. The two main types are the smooth green zucca mantovana, which has bright orange flesh and is always available, and the seasonal zucca barucca with a knobbly, bumpy skin. Ivan told us to adjust the quantity of bread according to how much water there is in the pumpkin.

+ Ingredients

FOR THE POTATO GNOCCHI
1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) potatoes (Desiree work well)
2 eggs, beaten
300 g (101/2 oz/21/2 cups) ˜00 flour
2 teaspoons fine salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dusting
FOR THE FILLING:
300 g (101/2 oz) peeled, seeded pumpkin, cut into approximately 5 cm (2 in) cubes
100 g (31/2 oz) Parmesan, finely grated*
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
150 g (5 oz/2 cups) soft breadcrumbs
Grating of nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
FOR THE SAUCE:
100 g (31/2 oz/scant 1/2 cup) salted butter
15“20 sage leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

50 g (2 oz) Parmesan, finely grated

+ Ingredients

Potato Gnocchi (Gnocchi di Patate)

+ Method

Gnocchi are best made with potatoes that are neither too fluffy nor too smooth and the Italians say they should be boiled in their skins so that the water doesnt saturate the potatoes. The secret to light gnocchi is to trap as much air inside as you can by pushing the cooked potatoes through a sieve, a passatutto (food mill) or a ricer. Freezing gnocchi before they are cooked can give an even better result than cooking from fresh, as they tend to hold their shape better. A Venetian pasta maker told me that his mother would fry any leftover cooked gnocchi for breakfast with butter, and then dust them with sugar and cinnamon.

+ Ingredients

Instructions:

+ Method

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes in their skins until tender “ this may take up to 1 hour, depending on their size. Drain and peel them while they are still hot, by holding them in one hand with a fork or a cloth and peeling the skin away with a knife in the other hand.

Pass the potatoes through a sieve, ricer or food mill into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the egg with a wooden spoon. Add the salt and a good twist of blac k pepper, then add half of the flour and combine. Pour the rest of the flour into a mound on to the work surface, make a well in it and put the dough into the well. Use your hands to knead in the rest of the flour to form a firm but pliable dough.

Lightly flour a large board or section of your work surface next to where you are preparing the gnocchi. On a clean surface, roll the dough into long sausages around 2 cm (3/4 in) wide. Cut the sausages into 2 cm lengths. Gently roll each piece into a ball between your palms. Use the side of your thumb to carefully roll the ball on a grater to make indentations and form a pattern, then place the gnocchi on to your floured board. Repeat this for the rest of the dough. As you roll the gnocchi on the grater a cavity will also from where your thumb was. This and the indentations will be perfect to collect the sauce.

Bring another large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Drop in the gnocchi and when they bob up to the surface they are done “ this takes about 2“4 minutes. Drain well and toss into a sauce, heated in a large frying pan.

If you plan to freeze your gnocchi before cooking, spread them out on a well-floured baking tray, making sure they dont touch each other, and put the tray in the freezer. When frozen (which takes around 3 hours), shake off any excess flour and transfer the gnocchi to a freezer bag to take up less space. Use within 3 months. To cook from frozen, allow an extra 1“2 minutes cooking time.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).

+ Ingredients

Filliing & sauce

+ Method

Put the pumpkin in a large baking tin, cover with foil and roast for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for another 15 minutes or until soft. Make sure the pumpkin doesnt brown. Remove from the oven and all ow to cool. Put the flesh into a food processor and blend or into a large mixing bowl and mash by hand. Add the rest of filling ingredients, stir to combine and set aside.

Make the potato gnocchi (instructions above). Instead of making sausage shapes roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a rough rectangle 5 mm (1/4 in) thick. Fill a piping bag with the filling mixture and 4 cm (11/2 in) down from the top edge pipe a 2 cm (3/4 in) thick sausage of stuffing. Fold the top edge of the dough over the filling and seal it in by gently pressing down with your fingers. Cut the length of gnocchi away from the rectangle and cut into pieces around 2 cm (3/4 in) wide and 4 cm (11/2 in) long. Set aside on a clean tea towel (dishcloth). Repeat the piping, folding, sealing and cutting process down the rest of the rectangle.

Melt the butter with the sage leaves and black pepp er in a large frying pan over a low heat. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a gentle boil. Drop in the gnocchi and when they float up to the surface they are done “ this takes about 2 minutes. Remove the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon and add them into the frying pan. Tos s through and serve in warm bowls with Parmesan.

Serves 6 as a main or 8 as a starter (makes 90-100 gnocchi)

* Parmesan/Parmigiano-Reggiano is made with calf rennet. Can be substituted with a parmesan style hard cheese or vegan dairy free parmesan style cheese.

 

Serves 6 as a main or 8 as a starter
(makes 90“100 gnocchi)