Let us hope winter is soon coming to an end, but while it lingers this is the perfect dish to make. Gnocchi now seems to be a very popular restaurant dish and I remember making it as a child in my Grandmothers kitchen. I cherish those memories and knew I couldn’t live a life without gnocchi, even if I now have to live gluten free.
My husband and I love centering our dates on food. We pick a new restaurant in the city to try, put the kids to bed and make something special just for the two of us or attend cooking classes. Finding cooking classes I can attend and enjoy makes that last one a bit harder these days. However, I was able to find one for cheese making. We are cheese people. If we’re having friends or family over, you can guarantee there will be a cheese board out.
I signed us up for the cheese making class at the Mozzarella Company. It may be an unusual date idea, but we had a blast. We learned about cheese, made cheese, ate cheese and of course drank a little wine. I knew we’d be making ricotta and couldn’t wait to take that fresh ricotta and turn it into gnocchi. You can also use store bought ricotta in this recipe. If you aren’t ready to make your own pasta or short on time you can substitute with your favorite gluten free dried pasta.
This dish just kept coming together in my head. Every time I talked about it my husband would comment on how I added another element. I wanted perfection and in the end all the favors married together so beautifully. They play on one another to form a pleasing and fully satisfying pasta. This meal is hearty and filling, perfect for fall or winter. If you are looking for pasta substitutions I’d go with penne or fusilli. It’s all about balancing the favors. Feel free to add a little fresh lemon juice into the sauce if you feel it’s too rich and make sure to taste as you go, making adjustments until you’re happy with how the favors come together. Top with pumpkin seeds to add a nice crunch and saltiness.
Gnocchi takes time and love to perfect. I have a gnocchi board that I use to make the ridges in the pasta, however this isn’t necessary. You can also use a fork to get the same effect. The ridges will help hold in that delicious sage butter sauce. Truth be told my grandmother taught me to roll it out on the cutting board, so ridges aren’t a requirement. Experiment and see what works best for you. The key is really to keep all your pieces the same size so they all get perfectly cooked. To roll the gnocchi out use the side of your thumb and press down on the edge of the dough. Continue pressing as your roll away from yourself. The dough should curl into a U shape. Work with small amounts of dough at a time and keep remaining dough covered in plastic wrap. Gnocchi can be made ahead of time and frozen. To freeze, place gnocchi onto a baking sheet, making sure to leave spacing in between. Place baking sheet in the freezer until the pasta is frozen. Transfer the frozen gnocchi to a releasable plastic freezer bag. Use within a month. When you are ready to cook don’t defrost and cook as directed below.
1 cup ricotta
2 cups one-for-one gluten free all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, plus one yolk, slightly beaten
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt and pepper
Combine ingredients in a medium size bowl. Stir until liquids get absorbed. Using your hands knead ingredients together until combined. Pour out onto a clean work surface and continue to knead until dough is smooth. Form a ball with the dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove dough from the fridge. Working with small sections at a time, roll the dough into a long rope, approximately ¼ inch thickness. Cut rope into one inch pieces. Using a gnocchi board or fork roll out dough into the preferred shape. Repeat process for remaining dough. Boil a large pot of salted water. Once water begins to boil add the gnocchi and bring the water back to a rapid boil Make sure to stir to ensure your pasta isn’t sticking to the bottom. Once the gnocchi begin to float, cook for approximately 2 more minutes.
Gnocchi in a Sage Butter Sauce
Small butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 links sweet Italian sausage
Gnocchi recipe above or desired dry pasta (12 oz.)
2 tablespoons roughly chopped sage leaves
1 cup butter
Reserved pasta water
1 cup shredded parmigano-reggiano
¼ cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 400°. Line squash onto a baking sheet, toss in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook Italian sausage. Once cooked through remove from pan and set aside for meat to rest, 10 minutes. Drain grease from the pan. Cook gnocchi as directed above and reserve pasta water for the sauce. Slice sausages into ½ thick pieces. Using the same pan, add back in the sausage, squash, sage and butter. Over medium high heat stir until butter is melted. Add gnocchi and ½ cup of reserved pasta water. Stirring until sauce has thickened and covers the pasta. Turn off the heat and stir in ¾ cup of the cheese. Plate pasta and sprinkle each portion with remaining cheese and pumpkin seeds.