Pumpkin (or Sweet Potato) Gnocchi with Creamy Mushrooms

Light-as-air little dumplings of pumpkin gnocchi (or sweet potato gnocchi) doused with creamy mushrooms A real treat in the Fall, or anytime!

AKA creamy mushroom sauce, mushroom cream sauce et al…

I think I was an Italian Nonnina in a previous life.  You see, I have this uncanny ability to whip up perfect, homemade pasta, whether it be tortellini/oni, lasagnette, orecchiette, pizzocheri, gnocchi, fettuccine, linguine, taglearini, bomboletti, strozzapreti, ravioli, etc…you name it.  I was never taught how to make pasta; I just watched the Italian boyfriend (from Italy Italian) of a boyfriend’s sister make it one Thanksgiving late, late evening, years ago, then watched a cooking show where they demonstrated pasta making. I think it was Mario Batali (?? my super-duper memory is failing me at this moment).

Anyway, two months later, I jumped in head first and made ravioli.  To my surprise, it went without a hitch; the pasta was silky and not one ravioli opened up during cooking.

Pumpkin (or Sweet Potato) Gnocchi with Creamy Mushrooms. This gnocchi can be made with mashed sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin, too, for a sweet potato gnocchi!
Then I made a lasagna from scratch, pasta and all. The guy I was dating at the time lived in a predominantly Italian neighborhood.  He insisted we share the lasagna with some of his friends because it was that good. The general consensus was along the lines of;

“Whoa, this is betta than my Mutha’s. You didn’t really make this, did you?”

“Come on, Lis, you bought this at Fairway Market, right?” (wink wink)

What the hell?

Pumpkin (or Sweet Potato) Gnocchi with Creamy Mushrooms. This gnocchi can be made with mashed sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin, too, for a sweet potato gnocchi!My pumpkin gnocchi is a darker orange than most pumpkin gnocchi because after straining the pumpkin overnight, I cooked it down until thick and dark in color, to concentrate the pumpkin flavor.

I’m not bragging; I’m extremely perplexed by this.  Don’t get me wrong, I do thoroughly enjoy this ‘gift’ if that’s what it is, but I don’t make pasta from scratch as often as I should, and probably still won’t.

Another perplexing part is the speed at which I make it.  This is why I’m convinced I was an Italian Nonnina in another life.  It’s like second nature to me.  I kneaded, cut, rolled, cut again, and rolled on a fork approximately 2 lbs of this pumpkin gnocchi in about 30 minutes last night.  I felt like I was on a human hamster wheel, no end in sight, until I picked up the last 1/2-inch piece of dough, not quite sure how I got to it.  I was flushed and probably in some weird parallel pasta universe where gnocchi magically forms itself into ridged dumplings. It couldn’t have been just me, right?.

This is crazy. Where did this ability come from?

Well.this speed came in handy for this month’s Secret Recipe Club. I was assigned the blog, Everyday Mom.  I made two recipes prior to this gnocchi.from her blog.  The first was early in the month – Slowcooker BBQ beef.  Coincidentally, she made this from another blog for the SRC a few months ago. It was gone so fast there was no way I could get a photograph of it without having my hand bit off. Not only that, the recipe has been passed on to several people, a forever recipe for them.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Creamy Mushrooms. This gnocchi can be made with mashed sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin, too, for a sweet potato gnocchi!See the little seashell cup curls and ridges in the gnocchi? Those are imperative to catch and hold onto the sauce. Each bite of gnocchi should be filled with sauce. Without the ridges and seashell like curl, they’re just dumplings. It’s not just for aesthetics.

Yes, it was that good.  I don’t use a crock pot very often, but now I’ve definitely caught the bug.  If you make the Slowcooker BBQ beef, I made two changes to the recipe.  I seared the beef prior to adding it to the pot, along with all the fond and juices and cut the ketchup with tomato sauce. 1 cup each instead of 2 full cups of ketchup.

I had already made the decision that I wanted to bake something, especially with pumpkin, for the #squashlove bloghop, so instead of doing the slow cooker beef again, I chose her pumpkin streusel muffins.  Herein lies the problem; her recipe contains molasses, and I don’t like molasses with pumpkin because I think it overpowers it.  I also didn’t want to use substitutions like maple syrup, or more brown sugar, so I slightly integrated a favorite pumpkin muffin recipe of mine; trying to mesh it with hers.  Not to mention, I wasn’t making any old pumpkin muffins, I was making jumbo pumpkin muffins stuffed with cheesecake and topped with a toffee streusel.

By the time I was finished and had taken photos, I realized that my muffins were nothing like her recipe; not even close.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Creamy Mushrooms. This gnocchi can be made with mashed sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin, too, for a sweet potato gnocchi!
This is how my pumpkin gnocchi, a last minute, as in very last minute, idea, took shape. She has a recipe for potato gnocchi, so I substituted pumpkin puree for the potatoes, a bit of nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice for the garlic powder; used 00 flour – and there you have it.  I’m so glad I made this because I’m madly in love with it.  The Creamy Mushrooms  I decided on comes from Chef Frank DeCarlo of Peasant and Bacaro restaurants via, you guessed it, Martha Stewart again.

I played with the creamy mushrooms a bit, tweaking it to my liking.  For instance, I’m a multi-mushroom girl.  If a recipe calls for one type of mushroom, I scoff.  I love to mix different varieties, especially since they each have their own special fungi nuances that take a recipe to another planet.  I used a mix of oyster, baby bellas, and shiitakes.  I also reduced the butter by half and cooked the sauce down a lot longer than the recipe calls for, to thicken it. It was way too soupy after the only few minutes of cooking stated in the recipe.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Creamy Mushrooms. This gnocchi can be made with mashed sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin, too, for a sweet potato gnocchi!
This is the best pumpkin gnocchi and sauce I’ve ever made.  PLEASE try this,  because if you do, you might want to give me two big, fat kisses on each cheek (I hope)!  Oh, and try the Slowcooker BBQ beef too.  Trust me, it will be a forever recipe for you too, and well..sometimes dumping everything in a crock pot, then coming home to a hot, flavorful meal, is just too easy to pass up.

Don’t forget to check out Everyday Mom for some yummy recipes, and I’ve got two linky’s for you to click on, this time.  The first, the blue frog thing below to see all the delicious dishes my fellow Group A SRC’ers chose from the blogs they were assigned.  The second is for #squashlove.  A month long bloghop where everyone cooked or baked something using some kind of squash.  Mouth-watering creations so far!

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Creamy Mushrooms. This gnocchi can be made with mashed sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin, too, for a sweet potato gnocchi!
Finally, don’t forget about my giveaway to honor Breast Cancer Awareness, HERE.  It’s running until November 14tth 15th, 2011, so leave a comment to enter, and you just might win that baby pink Cusinart food processor.   I’m even thinking of adding another so two people can win!  Stay tuned!

Secret Recipe Club

November is #squashlove month!

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Please join in on the #squashlove fun by linking up any squash recipe from the month of November 2011. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that
your readers know to come stop by the #squashlove event! The twitter hashtag is #squashlove.

Thanks to the below hosts of #squashlove.  Be sure to visit their blogs to see their delicious squash creations!

Bakerstreet, Bloc de Recetas, Bon a Croquer, Cafe Terra Blog, Cake Duchess, Elephant Eats, Food Wanderings, Georgie Cakes, Hobby and More, Mike’s Baking, Mis Pensamientos, My Twisted Recipes, No One Likes Crumbley Cookies, Queen’s Notebook, Simply Reem, Skip to Malou, Teaspoon of Spice, The Daily Palette, The Professional Palate, The Spicy RD, Vegan Miam.

Homemade Pumpkin Gnocchi

Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Pumpkin (or Sweet Potato) Gnocchi with Creamy Mushrooms
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
 
ingredients:
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned) or 2 cups mashed sweet potato (1 very large or two medium sweet potatoes = 2 cups cooked and mashed)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 to 3 cups 00 or All-Purpose flour
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Grated, fresh nutmeg, about ¼ teaspoon
  • ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (replace with ⅛ teaspoon of cinnamon if using sweet potato)
directions:
  1. Spoon the pumpkin puree into a strainer lined with cheesecloth over a bowl, and let strain overnight or for at least 4 hours (I strain it overnight..about 12 hours), covered in the refrigerator. Once drained of as much liquid as possible, cook it down (reduce it) in a pot on the stove top until thick and darker in color..like the top of a baked pumpkin pie. Keep stirring it as it cooks down so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Large bubbles will open and pop (burp) when it's ready or close to ready. This is a very important step in getting a more intense pumpkin flavor in the gnocchi and a less sticky dough. Set aside and let cool.
  2. If making sweet potato gnocchi, puree the cooked sweet potato in a food processor or blender, then strain it, as you would for the pumpkin, for at least 4 hours, in a cheesecloth lined fine-meshed strainer. The sweet potato doesn't need to be cooked down, so one step you can skip. However, I staunchly recommend baking the sweet potato instead of boiling or steaming it. Rub the skin lightly with vegetable oil, then prick several times with a fork, and bake at 400 F for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Also, omit the pumpkin pie spice if making sweet potato gnocchi and replace it with ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon.
  3. Combine the parmesan cheese, egg, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon if using sweet potato) salt and cooled, thickened pumpkin puree (or mashed sweet potato) until uniform.
  4. Add enough of the flour into the wet pumpkin puree combination to form a soft dough that is not too tacky to work with. * See notes.
  5. Knead the dough for several minutes, until you have a nice, smooth ball. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for about 20 minutes before proceeding.
  6. Cut the ball into 4 equal pieces, then roll each piece into a long thin cylinder, about ½ inch thick.
  7. Cut the cylinders into ½ inch pieces. Roll pieces in flour, shaking off any excess, if needed. (I keep a bit of the bench flour in a pile at the edge of my work space, just in case)
  8. Roll the pieces over a gnocchi board or a fork to give them the ridges and shell shape to hold the sauce.
  9. Cook the gnocchi in salted boiling water in small batches until it floats to the surface, about 2-3 minutes. Strain gnocchi and shake off any excess water.
  10. Toss gnocchi in pan with creamy mushrooms, then serve with extra cheese (your favorite Italian hard grating cheese) and julienned sage.
notes:
*Important - If it's humid outside, flour absorption is at its worst, so I suggest not worrying about rolling the dough into coils and cutting - just cut pieces from the tacky dough, roll them in a little flour, and proceed with the fork shaping. OR, just cut off sticky pieces and throw into salted, boiling water immediately, sort of like spaetzle. There's nothing worse than heavy, leaden gnocchi, so never continue to add more flour if too tacky. Never exceed 3 cups flour in this recipe, unless you like eating eraser dumplings!

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