Wednesday, October 27, 2010

an adult halloween treat - recipe: pumpkin gnocchi with walnut sage cream sauce

Although I'd never describe myself as a pack rat, I’ve noticed that I have a hard time parting with certain things: any “artwork” made by my son John, greeting cards, and, to nobody’s surprise, recipes.

I’ve collected an astonishing number of recipes over the years. I have about 15 binders, each sorted by course or theme (soups, salads, entrees, food as gift, Mediterranean and so forth), a file folder system for recipes from magazine clippings or the newspaper, a “sacred” recipe journal which is used only for family or cherished recipes, a box of recipes from the cooking classes that I’ve taught over the years, and a large bin for recipes that have yet to be filed.

And as I’m typing this I realize that I haven’t yet described my system for my food shop and catering recipes. Don’t worry, I won’t.

Every so often, I thumb through the various recipes for inspiration. I recently reviewed my “Fall/Halloween” binder (I’m not crazy, just organized, right?) and a couple recipes jumped out at me.

The first was “scary” Halloween spiders — these will be a fun snack for John to enjoy on Oct. 31. The second was pumpkin gnocchi with walnut cream sauce.

While at chef school at George Brown College, I took full advantage of their amazing magazine collection, and must have photocopied at least 300 recipes. This is one of those recipes, and I can’t believe that it’s taken me almost 10 years to make it because it sounds so delicious.

I’ve adapted the recipe, using a combination of pumpkin, russet and sweet potato, adding garlic, shallots and sage to the cream sauce and a touch of gorgonzola to finish.

Feel free to omit the gorgonzola if you don’t like blue cheese — but don’t tell me because then I will think you’re crazy.

This would be a great grown-up meal to enjoy on Oct. 31. Don’t be afraid if you’ve never made gnocchi before. Even though you’ve likely only ordered it in a restaurant, it’s not at all hard to make at home.

pumpkin gnocchi with walnut sage cream sauce
recipe adapted from Bon Appetit magazine


  • 1 10-ounce russet potato, to yield about 1 cup mashed russet
  • 1 14-ounce sweet potato, to yield about 1 1/3 cups mashed sweet potato
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree from can or pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream (35 per cent)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and finely ground in cuisinart
  • 3-4 tablespoons of fresh sage, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • finely grated parmesan
  • cheese or gorgonzola to finish

method (for gnocchi)

  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
  • Cook sweet potato and russet potato in microwave until soft, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly and remove and discard potato skins. Place peeled potatoes into a large bowl, add pumpkin. Mash with potato masher or wooden spoon until smooth. Add parmesan cheese, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of flour to the potato mixture, stirring with a spoon until incorporated. Knead dough, adding more flour as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough.
  • Note: I used 1 1/2 cups of flour in total, and used the remaining 1/2 cup for dusting.
  • Cut dough in 6 pieces. Form one piece of dough into a 1/2 inch thick rope on a lightly floured surface.
  • Cut rope into 1/2 inch pieces. Repeat with remaining 5 pieces of dough. Gently press fork tines into each piece of gnocchi to make ridges on one side (like the ridges on peanut butter cookies). Transfer gnocchi to baking sheets.
  • Add one-third of gnocchi to a pasta pot of well salted boiling water and stir. Cook until they float to the surface, about 3-5 minutes. Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon to transfer to a bowl or dish off the heat. Cook all gnocchi in the same manner.

method (for sauce)

  • Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat until foamy.
  • Add shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Add cream, cook for 3-4 minutes until frothy and slightly thickened. Add ground walnuts, sage and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add gnocchi to sauce and stir to combine. Divide amongst six plate, if serving as a main course, or eight if serving as a first course, and top with parmesan and/or gorgonzola cheese.

scary halloween spider snacks


  • peanut butter
  • round crackers
  • pretzel sticks
  • chocolate chips or raisins


  • spread some peanut butter onto a round cracker
  • fan 4 pretzel rods on each side of cracker for the legs
  • top with another round cracker
  • spread a bit more peanut butter on the top cracker and use 2 chocolate chips or raisins for the eyes

No comments:

catering, gourmet food shop, gift baskets