Tuesday, May 24, 2011
An interesting realization hit me as I was enjoying my dinner one day not too long ago. My dinner, which consisted of plain white noodles with vegetables, began to look a lot like spaghetti. It suddenly occurred to me that while different cultures enjoy different cuisines, their foods are all basically the same thing.
Let’s look at noodles. Noodles, which are a staple in many countries, come in many different forms, sizes, and flavors, but essentially, they are all just various shapes of dough. You have your pasta from Italy, udon from Japan, soba from Korea, egg noodles from China, white rice noodles from Vietnam and so on. Really though, the only difference between them is the ratio of flour to water to egg.
Dumplings are another type of food that shows up in many country’s cuisines. Dumplings from China have a savory filling, while American dumplings are just boiled chunks of dough. Italian dumplings, or gnocchi, are made with a starchy vegetable (most commonly potatoes) base. Flour then is added until the mixture binds to form a soft dough. I used pumpkin as my base vegetable for this gnocchi. You can barely taste the pumpkin, although there is a slight aftertaste if you eat the gnocchi plain. The pumpkin gives this gnocchi a vibrant orange color. It also makes for an easier recipe as well, since canned puréed potato is not a common item found at your local supermarket.
Feel free to serve the gnocchi however you want. I simply heated up some marinara sauce and added some peas to it to create this dish. You can whip up a sophisticated brown butter and sage sauce, or simply serve them with some parmesan cheese grated over the top and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Both ways taste delicious.
2 cups pumpkin purée
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 - 2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch nutmeg (optional)
1. Combine the egg yolk and pumpkin purée in a large bowl.
2. Mix the salt, nutmeg and flour in a medium bowl.
3. Mix enough of the flour mixture into the pumpkin puree to form a soft dough that is not too sticky to work with.
4. Knead the dough for a minute and then roll it out into 4 long thin rolls about 1/2 inch thick.
5. Cut the rolls into 1/2 inch pieces and then roll the pieces in flour lightly shaking off any excess.
6. Roll the pieces over a gnocchi board or a fork to give them the ridges.
7. Cook the gnocchi in boiling water until it floats to the surface, about 2-3 minutes, remove and set aside to drain.
8. Serve as desired.