Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Gnocchi with autumn squash and pumpkin seed pesto

My Uncle was in New York for a few nights a couple of weeks ago so I got to pick a good restaurant for dinner. I chose Barbuto an Italian in the West Village where the owner and chef is a friend of my Paris Uncle Marks. 

Thankfully it was a really warm night so we sat outside and ate and drank too much. I took advise from the waiter and ordered the stuffed Quail followed by Gnocchi with autumn squash and pumpkin seed pesto which I was told was good if I wanted a light meal. I didn't believe him as gnocchi is normally quite stodgy and make you feel a bit like you have to be rolled home. Both were delicious and the Gnocchi was absolutely amazing and I wasn't even very full after. 

I have been thinking about it ever since and I finally had a go at cooking it last night. My version wasn't quite what I had planned since my kitchen in the studio is not exactly well equipped, so instead of the squash purée I had sort of mushed with a fork squash, it still tasted good but I wanted more of a sauce. For the pesto I just chopped everything up tiny due to lack of a food processor. Here's what I would do again with the right equipment, the pesto is seriously good and I used some left over to go through a salad today so it can be used for all sorts of other dishes, it will also keep well in the fridge for about 3 days so make too much.

Makes enough for about 5 people

3 large baking potatoes
4/5 tbsp flour
2 tbsp olive oil

Steam potatoes over boiling water for around 50-60 mins until tender. Set aside to cool. When cooled break up the potatoes and use a ricer or sieve to mash them into a bowl.
Dust a work surface with 1 tbsp of flour and scoop on the potatoes. Dust the potatoes with the remaining flour and dribble a tbsp of olive oil on top. With your hands, work the potatoes kneading lightly for around 5 mins until it comes together to make a soft dough, you may need to add a little more flour or oil. Let the dough rest for 10 mins.

Divide the dough into four balls and roll out each into a worm shape about 1-inch thick, cut into 1-inch pieces of gnocchi. Place on a parchment lined tray or plate and freeze for 1 hour minimum. 
When hard remove as many as you want to cook and you can keep the rest frozen in a bag for up to 1 month.

Squash Purée
1 large or 2 small Butternut Squash and or Acorn Squash

1 Garlic clove
3/4 tbsp butter
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Half the squash lengthways and spoon out the seeds and strings, then spoon 1 tbsp of butter into each, season and roast in the oven skin side down until soft enough to spoon out, normally around 30-40 mins.

Put the squash in a food processor until smooth and adjust seasoning and add the rest of the butter. put aside and keep warm.

Pumpkin seed pesto
10 tbsp pumpkin seeds
5 tbsp grated parmesan
2 clove garlic
bunch parsley leaves
bunch basil leaves
2 tbsp lemon juice or a tsp of zest
300ml olive oil

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan over a medium heat until a little golden or roast them in the oven for a minute.

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse for around 20 secs until the seeds are almost ground but not too fine. If it's too thick loosen up with more oil so it can easily be spooned over gnocchi. Scoop out into a bowl and cling.

To serve. Heat up the purée. Take gnocchi out the freezer and fry in a little butter and olive oil turning regularly until golden all over and cooked through. 
Pour squash purée over gnocchi and divide between bowls, spoon on a little pesto and grate some parmesan over.

Also good served with some roasted squash if you want to save some cube it and roast in oven until golden.

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