A classic of Italian cuisine, Gnocchi alla Romana is total comfort food. The traditional topping is a sprinkling of parmigiano and butter dots, but I like to give classic recipes a twist sometimes… or more often, really.
This version is with sautéed kabocha, my favorite type of pumpkin outside of Italy, and sage. And Parmigiano Reggiano, of course!
This recipe is easy and versatile, and the basic gnocchi, once laid out in the baking dish, can be refrigerated for a few days or even frozen for another occasion.
GNOCCHI ALLA ROMANA WITH KABOCHA, SAGE AND PARMIGIANO
yields about 7 portion
for the gnocchi:
- 1 liter (ca 4.3 cups) milk
- 250 gr. (8.8 oz.) semolina flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 100 gr. (3.5 oz.) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the baking dish and dotting the gnocchi (a total of 180gr. or 6.3 oz. ca.)
- 150 gr. (5.3 oz.) freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus another 150 gr. (5.3 oz.) to sprinkle on top before baking
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or to taste)
- olive oil for oiling the roll out surface
for the sautéed kabocha:
- 450 gr. (1 lb.) kabocha pumpkin, seeded, peeled and cut into smallish cubes (this can be prepared the day before and kept in the refrigerator)
- 1 small bundle of fresh sage
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half with the core removed
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- In a large stock pot or saucepan bring the milk to a boil with the salt, nutmeg and half the butter (50 gr.). Remove from heat and add the semolina flour, mixing with a whist in order to avoid lumps. Place back on the stove and simmer gently for a few minutes, always stirring to avoid sticking and lumps. The mixture will bubble and pop lightly, so keep stirring.
2. Turn off the heat, remove the pot from the stove and let cool for about ten minutes. Add the rest of the butter, then the parmesan cheese and finally the egg yolks, stirring after each addition. If the mixture is now too dense to mix with a whisk, switch to a wooden spoon.
3. Pour the semolina dough onto an oiled surface and roll out with a rolling pin to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Let cool completely. While the semolina cools, you can cook the kabocha (or other topping of choice).
4. Once completely cool, cut the dough into the desired shape using a cookie cutter or an upside down glass. Round is the classic shape, but you can do square, heart shaped or whatever you like as long as it holds together.
5. Use a narrow and flat metal spatula to help lift the gnocchi cut outs, or things could get messy. Arrange the gnocchi in the baking dish in an overlapping pattern. You can rework the leftover semolina bits into a mass and roll that out again till you have used it all up.
At this stage, you could cover and refrigerate the gnocchi for a few days, or even freeze them for about three months. In the latter case, make sure he baking dish or other container you use is freezer safe, and that the food is properly insulated to avoid freezer burn.
Above you can see the total yield with this recipe. You can create baking dishes in the desired size. I really like the single serving size, but then you will need a plate covered with a napkin in order to serve i or it will be too hot for the table.
Preparing the sautéed kabocha.
- Heat the extra virgin olive oil and garlic in a large (non-stick) sauté pan that has a lid. Add a few sage leaves and, when the sage and garlic start to sizzle, add the cubed kabocha. Season it with salt and pepper and give the pan a flip, or stir with a wooden spatula. Let cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat, add a little water (less than half a cup), cover with the lid and cook for another minute. Remove the lid and let the liquid evaporate and the cooking complete. Keep an eye on it as the small cubes can cook quickly, and you do not want them overcooked or you will end up with mashed pumpkin instead of cubes. Remove from heat and let cool for ten minutes.
Complete the gnocchi.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Distribute the sautéed kabocha over the gnocchi in the baking dish, dot with butter, add more fresh sage leaves and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake in the oven on the central rack for about 20-30 minutes, until heated through and a nice gratin has formed on top. You can even finish it off under the broiler if you wish.
If you like, you can use a Bolognese sauce (a meat sauce) as an alternative topping before the parmesan and butter, or sautéed mushrooms with whatever herb you prefer. Sage, rosemary and thyme are all excellent herbs to also use as simpler toppings just with butter and parmesan.
Let me know how you enjoy this!
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This recipe was originally posted on March 2, 2012 in my Food Journey blog, which is now integrated into this one.