Potato Gnocchi with Pumpkin, Tomato Sauce and Mascarpone
This is Italian comfort food at its best. Gnocchi are delicate little dumplings made out of either potato, semolina or flour. This is a wonderfully filling vegetarian dish that melds the flavours of pumpkin, tomato and mascarpone. Don’t be afraid of having a go at making gnocchi. Make sure you work quickly with the gnocchi dough and avoid working it too much so that it doesn’t become too heavy.
2 kg desiree potatoes, washed and dried
500 ml milk
200 g semolina
50 g plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
500 g pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
50 g butter
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
1/4 bunch flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
700 ml Bitton Spicy Tomato Sauce or your favourite tomato passata spiced up with some chopped chilli
4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place washed whole potatoes on a baking tray and bake for 1½ to 2 hours until soft or when a skewer is easily inserted into the potatoes. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and place into a large heavy-based saucepan. Mash well (or you can press through a mouli or sieve) so that there are no lumps. Be careful not to over mash as the potatoes will become ‘glue-like’.
Toss the pumpkin with the olive oil and place in a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the pumpkin is soft and slightly golden on the edges. Remove and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the milk and when hot pour into the potato in a thin stream. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Add semolina and flour and continue to stir until the potato mixture is quite stiff and dry, with the liquid being absorbed into the potato. Add the eggs and beat well until combined. To make the gnocchi, take teaspoonfuls of the potato mixture and gently roll into oval shapes. Press the gnocchi onto the tines of a floured fork and place on a chopping board lightly dusted with flour. Another less messy way of making the gnocchi is to fill a piping bag, hold this over boiling water and squeeze out small dumplings, cutting each little dumpling off with your finger across the piping nozzle.
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil, salt with about two teaspoons of salt. Once the water boils, drop in small batches of gnocchi. As the gnocchi rises to the top of the boiling water, remove with a slotted spoon and place in a greased baking dish and set aside.
To assemble, place a large frying pan over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the garlic and cook for a minute. Toss the cooked gnocchi in the pan and cook, stirring gently to coat with the butter and until golden brown. Add the pumpkin, parsley and Bitton Spicy Tomato Sauce or tomato passata. Bring to a simmer.
To serve, spoon into four flat soup bowls and add a dollop of mascarpone. Serve with a crisp green salad.