Saturday, 11 December 2010

Pumpkin gnocchi with tahina, pine nuts and marjoram pesto

Heavy rains have been falling for the last weeks, and then, all of a sudden, white fluffy flocks started dancing in the sky. We spent most of the time indoors, and the kitchen table turned into a messy cooking playground for my daughter Maddalena and I.
Sticky fingers in the air, we celebrated this cold but cosy time of the year in a playful and tasty way...

So.. here is a vegan recipe for the traditional italian gnocchi, more often served with brown butter and fried sage. Hope you like this one too...enjoy!

Ingredients for the gnocchi (dumplings):
pumpkin: 1000 kg (about 600/700 gr of pumpkin flesh)
potato: 1 big or 2 small potatoes (about 160 gr )
potato or tapioca starch: 1 teaspoon
white wheat flour: 250 gr

Ingredients for the pesto sauce:
fresh marjoram: 8 sprigs of marjoram
garlic: ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic clove
tahina: 2 and ½ spoonfuls
pine nuts: 30 gr
sesam seeds

Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, remove the skin; chop and place the pieces face down on a baking sheet. Bake at 180° C until soft, for about 45 min to an hour. Let them cool for a few minutes. Puree into a large bowl with a food mill. Meanwhile steam the potato/es until tender. Then puree the potato in the same bowl. Mix with a fork.
Add the flour, the potato or tapioca starch, salt and nutmeg. Mix quickly with a fork as the dough gets very sticky.

Dust a wooden board with some flour, take a small part of the dough and roll into a log of approximately 15-20 cm. Cut this log into small dumplings (gnocchi) of approx. 2-3 cm length and roll each one onto a fork to create indentations, then place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Repeat until you have cut all the dough. Add more flour on the wooden board if necessary.

Toast the pine nuts in a pan for few minutes, let them cool down while you mince the marjoram leaves with a chopper. In a food processor mix together garlic, marjoram, pine nuts and salt. Add the tahina and blend until you get a soft but thick pesto sauce. Add a spoonful of cooking water if necessary.

In a large sauce pan bring water to boil, add salt and cook approx. a handful of gnocchi at a time. Cooking time is very short: they'll be ready as soon as they float back to the surface. Sieve them using a skimming ladle.

Serve with the tahina and marjoram pesto, sprinkle with sesame seeds and a few sprigs of marjoram to decorate.

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