Now that the kids are back to school, it’s time for me to play. It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to sip my morning coffee, nibble on a butter croissant, read the news, bookmarked blogs and even some magazines. But one glance at the autumn colours on our kitchen table is all it takes for me to surrender to my cooking instincts. Thanks to my friend Dania’s latest pumpkin offerings (see previous post), I got inspired to make something creative. I took out the potato peeler, one egg, nutmeg, flour and turned my workplace into a Jackson Pollock playground.
What better way to enjoy the start of the fall season than with pumpkin gnocchi. These little orange pillows are so delicious with a sweet nutty aftertaste, to be devoured with a rich Saint-Nectaire cheese sauce. It’s the cheese that reminds me most of autumn, with its hazelnut and mushroom hints. Another reason to love France! Let’s start the season and indulge.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
500 g pumpkin/ 1 pound
250 g plain flour/ 2 cups
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Extra flour, for dusting
A good pinch of salt and pepper
For the sauce:
200 ml double cream/ 1/2 cup
150 g Saint-Nectaire cheese/ 1/2 cup (you can replace this with any of your favourite cheese)
A handful of chopped walnuts
Peel and deseed pumpkin, slice in medium-sized cubes and cook in salted boiling water for 15 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Purée pumpkin in a food processor until smooth, return to pan and dry-out the mash for a few minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin mash, flour, salt, pepper egg and nutmeg. Use your hands to mix the dough – it has to be slightly sticky leaving the side of the bowl. Divide dough into four sausage shaped rolls, and roll each portion gently on a slightly floured surface, about 1.5 cm thick. Slice dough into little cubic ‘pillows’, approx. 1.5-2 cm each. Sprinkle flour on gnocchi to prevent them from sticking.
In a small saucepan, heat cream, bring to a gentle boil and lower heat. Add slices of Saint-Nectaire cheese. When the cheese has melted, set the sauce aside.
Cook gnocchi in a large pan of salted boiling water (on a high heat) by batches if necessary. As soon as they rise to the surface, they are cooked and ready to be served. Drain.
Serve immediately with the Saint-Nectaire cheese sauce. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts, salt and pepper to taste.