Monday, October 4, 2010
I am getting more and more nervous every day seeing pumpkins popping up everywhere.
When I came to America, almost from the first day, I met new qualities of life, which I embraced right away and forever--almost 300 sunny days a year in DC, smiling people (even though many Europeans may consider that superficial), 24 hour grocery stores and store return policy, the inclusive school system, and the great international diversity within the local community, just to name a few. But there is one aspect of living here that I have never really accepted--the American cuisine with its two main ingredients--the turkey and the pumpkin.
I know that as my son is getting excited about Halloween and pumpkin carving, he will eventually ask if I shared any pumpkin recipes on my blog, which I have not. I have tried a home-made pumpkin pie years ago just to discover that it was not my kind of dessert. Too bland. It could be a comfort food, but only for those who grew up here, I suppose. Back home, we ate pumpkins preserved in vinegar, as meat accompaniment, or in a sweet soup with milk and noodles, which I never liked either.
But I don't want to get in trouble with my American kids and the majority of my readers. Once in a while I try to make something new with pumpkins or their family members, hoping to be able to acquire some of the local taste. In this vein, last July, I made squash gnocchi.
I bought two squashes--acorn and butternut. At that time they were not local for sure. I used them to make the gnocchi and topped them with fried sage from my garden. They turned out to be a great hit. The sweetness of the squash was not overwhelmingly dominant and the crispy and aromatic sage helped to bring out the nuttiness of the squash. Since my family loves pasta and dumplings of any kind, this dish had a great chance to match our taste to begin with, but the result exceeded my expectation as the gnocchi disappeared in the blink of an eye.
We will certainly make them again this fall and again we will not have enough of them, especially that beautiful locally grown acorn and butternut squashes can now be found everywhere.
Squash Gnocchi with Fried Sage
1 Acorn and 1 Butternut Squash about 1 pound altogether,
1 1/2 cup flour,
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for garnish,
20 leaves of sage,
1 stick (about 100g) of butter,
salt and freshly ground pepper.
Sage fried in butter
1. Cut sage leaves into strips,
2. Melt butter in a small pan and add sage leaves.
3. Fry the sage until it becomes darker and crispy.
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cut squash in slices, remove seeds, and arrange on the well-oiled baking tin.
3. Bake until soft, for about 30-40 min.
4. Cool down, remove skin, and scoop up the flesh.
5. Using an electric blender turn the cooked squash into a purée.
6. Add flour and make a dough. If it is too sticky add a little more flour.
7. Make the dough into a long roll and cut it diagonally into small pieces,1/2 inch long--see picture.
8. Boil a pot of water with 1 tbsp of salt and drop the gnocchi in it.
9. Wait until they rise to the surface and, from that moment, cook them for another 3-4 minutes.
10. Drain the gnocchi on a colander, put them on a plate.
11. Serve them with the fried sage leaves and the butter in which the sage was fried, shredded Parmesan, and freshly ground pepper.