Sunday cooking, and somewhat Presto Pasta

Reason #345348098 why I love the weekends: time to cook, even when it doesn’t feel like it, and even when you are exhausted from the week. Reason #707890370 why I love the weekends: feeling like it’s ok to enjoy a few extra calories. With those ideas in mind, and with my sage and rosemary both begging to be used, I spent some time getting to know my kitchen again. Let’s just say, we haven’t been that intimate lately!

What goes better with sage than buttery, orange-fleshed winter squash? Not much, in my humble opinion. And since it’s been a few weeks since my first entry to Presto Pasta Nights, I decided to try my hand at Pumpkin Gnocchi in Sage Cream Sauce with Toasted Pecans.

I’ve never made gnocchi before and really did not know what to expect. I based my recipe off of this one here, using canned pumpkin puree to make my pasta even more presto. I added a dash of nutmeg to the mixture for depth of flavor. However, I found I needed more flour in the mix to make a workable dough, and also needed to refrigerate it. Even then, it was somewhat hard to work with and I couldn’t succeed in getting those distinct lines gnocchi are known for. I saw some other recipes which called for roasting the squash, then letting it drain in a cheesecloth overnight before pureeing and mixing with the flour. I think I might try this in order to eliminate some of the moisture in the dough.

Well, though they were difficult to prepare, they certainly cooked up very quickly – so I guess I satisfied the “presto” part there. They were a little bit tougher than I would have liked, but the flavor was rich and delicious especially with the sauce. My fiance was very impressed! I cut this recipe in half and made this as a side dish since we had already had our share of indulgences this weekend, but I’d certainly like to try this again and if I get it right, enjoy a whole big bowl!

Pumpkin Gnocchi, from Jeff Jake, Executive Chef at the Lodge at Pebble Beach
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (or 1 1/2 cups puree)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place the pumpkin cubes in a medium-sized saucepan and cover with boiling water. Cook over medium high heat until the pumpkin is soft and tender. Drain the pumpkin, discarding any cooking water.

Set a sieve over a bowl and press the pumpkin through the sieve. Return the puree to the saucepan and add the two tablespoons of butter. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the pumpkin has thickened and dried, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour, egg yolk, salt and pepper, beating just until combined. The mixture should be in the form of a soft dough.

To form the gnocchi, roll about a tablespoon of dough in the palm of your hand to form an oblong disk. Press the tines of a fork lightly against one side of the disk to make an indentation. Place the formed gnocchi on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment. If not cooking immediately, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the gnocchi for up to 4 hours.

When you are ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cook the gnocchi a few at a time in the boiling water until they rise to the surface of the water.

Sage and Toasted Pecan Cream, just enough for two
small handful of chopped pecans, about 1/4 cup
1/2 tbsp butter
handful of fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/2 of a small onion, thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup fat free evaporated milk (yes I thought it would be gross, but trust me, it works!)

In skillet over medium heat, toast pecans until fragrant and slightly browning. Remove from pan and set aside. Add butter to pan and reduce heat. When it’s melted and foaming, add onions and sage. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until onions are very soft and translucent. Add chicken broth and milk, bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until thickened.
Add cooked gnocchi and toasted pecans to sauce, and gently stir to coat and heat through.Now, are you dying to know what exactly the side dish was on the side of? My rosemary bush inspired another favorite we haven’t had in a while: braised lamb chops. Ben and I both just love lamb, probably even more than a good steak, so I love being able to prepare a good dish at home. Since I had some extra time, I decided to braise it. First, I chopped up some garlic and lots of fresh rosemary, pressed it all over my lamb chops, then left in the fridge, tightly covered in plastic, while I went out running errands for a few hours. The last stop I planned was supposed to be the liquor store to pick up some chardonnay for de-glazing the pan. Only, my errands took longer than expected and by the time I was on my way home, the liquor stores were all closed (this is Massachusetts, people!). With no wine in hand and not enough hours left in the day, I considered just throwing them on the grill, which probably would have been just as tasty. But I am one who has trouble going with the flow, who doesn’t like to get distracted when there is a certain plan in mind. So I just went without wine. Chicken broth makes a great braising liquid too. With braising, you really could eat your meat at any time and it would be “done”, but the longer you braise, the more likely you are to get that fall-of-bone tenderness. I braised for about an hour and a half, and these turned out really tender and flavorful. Another thumbs up from the fiance!

To prepare the lamb:
-preheat oven to 325 F
-heat an ovenproof skillet (one which has a tight-fitting lid) over medium-high heat with cooking spray or a swirl of olive oil
-place lamb chops in pan along with sliced red pepper and onions
-cook for about 2-4 minutes or until browned, then turn and cook other side
-remove everything from the pan, add chicken broth (about 1/2″ high up the side of the pan is good) and scrape bits from pan, bring liquid to a simmer
-return meat and vegetables to pan, cover, and place in oven
-braise in oven for 90 minutes (or longer!) turning occasionally

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10 Responses to “Sunday cooking, and somewhat Presto Pasta”

  1. 1

    Elly — July 24, 2007 @ 3:09 am Reply

    yum! both of those things look really delicious! i’ve never tried making gnocchi, either, but now i am tempted…

  2. 2

    Ruth Daniels — July 25, 2007 @ 10:40 am Reply

    Everything does sound delicious especially the pumpkin gnocchi. I know it will be a favorite of my daughter – I’ll get her to make it and then come over to eat it! Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights. Check back for the roundup on Friday.

  3. 3

    The Cooking Fiend — July 25, 2007 @ 2:02 pm Reply

    i’m so impressed you made gnocchi from scratch! you keep amazing me with these incredible recipes you come up with! nice job Cara!

  4. 4

    Katerina — July 27, 2007 @ 5:00 pm Reply

    Gnocchi is one of those things I have been meaning to try for a really long time, I am very impressed it worked for you on your first try! Looks fabulous.

  5. 5

    katiez — July 28, 2007 @ 7:45 pm Reply

    We love lamb, too, but the pumpkin gnocchi with sage??? Wonderful!If my pumpkin plants produce have of what they’re starting I’m going to have tons and this looks great… and sage cream… herby heaven!

  6. 6

    Ally — August 1, 2007 @ 3:27 am Reply

    The pumpkin gnocchi is definitely something I must try.

  7. 7

    eatme_delicious — August 2, 2007 @ 11:09 pm Reply

    i love gnocchi and i love pumpkin anything so i definitely want to try this gnocchi. 🙂 looks and sounds so good!

  8. 8

    Kevin — August 3, 2007 @ 2:27 am Reply

    Pumpkin gnocchi sounds really interesting. I once made spinach and ricotta gnocchi and it took a lot of effort. This looks like it would be worth the effort.

  9. 9

    Ruth Daniels — April 5, 2011 @ 1:18 am Reply

    Everything does sound delicious especially the pumpkin gnocchi. I know it will be a favorite of my daughter – I'll get her to make it and then come over to eat it! Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights. Check back for the roundup on Friday.

  10. 10

    Elly — April 5, 2011 @ 1:18 am Reply

    yum! both of those things look really delicious! i've never tried making gnocchi, either, but now i am tempted…

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