I came to love the magical zucca (pumpkin) in Italy. I anticipate her arrival in autumn and I transform her into many dishes until she disappears in spring time. Pumpkin comes in numerous shapes, sizes and colors at local markets. At the San Giovanni di Dio market in my neighborhood I find an ever-growing variety of pumpkin and squash. From the royal Mantovana, to the tough skinned Cappello del Prete (priest’s hat), there is no shortage of delicious beauties to cook.
Low calorie, rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, pumpkin is incredibly healthy. Nutrition dense, it may strengthen our immune systems, protect eyesight, lower the risk of certain cancers and promote heart and skin health.
Pumpkin’s delicate sweet taste lends itself to many dishes. As the season is quickly coming to an end, I stock up. I chop and freeze it in batches to enjoy at a later date. I use it as the star player in risotto, soup and side dishes. I also steam and puree it to add to our pup Chloe’s food and last but not least, I roll easy, pillowy gnocchi di zucca (pumpkin gnocchi). Bring on the pumpkin!
Here is my recipe for perfect gnocchi di zucca
- 1 lb. pumpkin or squash
- 1 1/2 cup ’00’ or AP flour
- 1 large egg
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
Serves 4 – I make extra to freeze
Preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C). Clean and cut the pumpkin into chunks. Place on a parchment paper lined tray and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a fork runs through the squash.
Remove from the oven and pass the pumpkin through a potato ricer while still warm.
Place in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, egg, salt and pepper. Mix to incorporate ingredients well.
Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead and form into a compact ball, cover with a damp tea towel and let rest for at least 15 minutes.
Divide into workable sections (I recommend 4). Roll into a log and cut into pillows around 1/2″ in size. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Roll the gnocchi one at a time over a gnocchi board or over the tines of a fork for gnocchi’s classic ribbed surface. Place on a floured surface once shaped.
Bring water to a boil and add salt. When water is at a rolling boil, add the gnocchi. Cook briefly, until they float to the surface.
Drain and toss with your favorite sauce; mine is brown butter and sage, or olive oil and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.