Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Pumpkin and Ricotta Gnocchi

Pumpkin and Ricotta Gnocchi
A lighter version of a traditional Italian favorite with full fall flavor

Dumplings! We’ve never met one we didn’t love. And gnocchi top our list of faves.

Since it’s autumn, we’re making these plump little pillows of goodness with pumpkin. And we’re pairing that with ricotta cheese (rather than the more traditional potato) to make for a lighter dish.

Because lighter means we can eat more. And when it comes to dumplings, more is always better.

Pumpkin and Ricotta Gnocchi

Recipe: Pumpkin and Ricotta Gnocchi

Gnocchi take well to both butter- and tomato-based sauces. We’re serving our gnocchi with a herbal butter sauce, similar to the one we made for our Pumpkin Ravioli. You could also serve it with a Brown Butter Sauce. Or a spicy Marinara Sauce.     

Gnocchi most often have cooked potatoes as their base, with flour mixed in to form a dough, plus egg to hold it all together. We’re using ricotta instead of potato. Ricotta gnocchi are lighter and easier to make (potato gnocchi can be a bit dense). But when you use ricotta, it can be harder to form the individual gnocchi because you’ll use less flour – so the dough is stickier and harder to work. We suggest refrigerating the dough for half an hour or so to help it firm up. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to refrigerate, you could just add more flour (the gnocchi will be heavier, but they’ll be easier to shape).

BTW, gnocchi traditionally have grooves, which helps them catch and absorb sauce (you can form these with a fork or a gnocchi paddle). Ricotta gnocchi tend to crumble apart when you try to form grooves, though, so we just shape them into oblongs and forgo the grooves.

Active prep time for this recipe (mixing and shaping the gnocchi) is about 15 minutes. Then we recommend adding 30 minutes of refrigerator time after mixing the dough and before shaping it. You can cook the gnocchi immediately after shaping it (cooking takes 3 minutes or a bit less). Or you can freeze the gnocchi (we always do this) and cook it frozen. Cooking frozen adds another minute or two.

This recipe yields about 6 servings. Gnocchi will keep for about 2 months in the freezer if stored in airtight freezer bags.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, drained (see Notes)
  • 1½ cups canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 egg yolks (see Notes if you prefer to use the whole egg)
  • kosher salt to taste (a few pinches for us; see Notes)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste (a half dozen grinds for us)
  • ~2 cups flour, divided, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 to 2 cups sauce (see headnote) for serving
  • a big pot of boiling water for cooking the gnocchi
  • additional kosher salt for seasoning the cooking water (a tablespoon or so)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish (optional)

Procedure

  1. Add the drained ricotta to a large mixing bowl. Add the pumpkin, Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg yolks, salt, and pepper. Mix together with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  2. Add 1 cup of flour, then mix to combine. Continue adding flour one tablespoon at a time, mixing in, until the dough just holds together (it will still be a bit sticky; see Notes).
  3. Spread a dusting of flour on a pastry board, then place the dough on it. Flour your hands, then flatten the dough into a disk. Cut the disk into 6 pieces. Place the pieces on a plate that you’ve dusted with flour. Then cover with a damp towel and refrigerate for ½ hour (or up to one hour).
  4. Remove the gnocchi from the fridge and return the dough to the pastry board. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (or use a silicone baking mat) and dust it lightly with flour. Roll each piece of dough into a log. Cut each log across the width 8 times or so to form the gnocchi (see Notes). Space the gnocchi out on the sheet pan. When all the gnocchi are formed, place the sheet pan in the freezer (or the refrigerator, if you want to cook them unfrozen). Let the gnocchi freeze solid (this takes about 2 hours). You can then portion the gnocchi into freezer bags. Keep the gnocchi frozen until ready to cook.
  5. When you’re ready to cook the gnocchi, make a sauce in a large frying pan (see headnote for suggestions) and keep it warm. Place a large pot of water on to boil. When the water boils, add salt to season it. Add the gnocchi and stir. Bring the water back to a simmer. When the gnocchi floats to the surface of the water, it’s done. Remove the gnocchi with a skimmer and add them to the frying pan with the sauce.
  6. Toss the gnocchi with the sauce. Add the chopped parsley (if using) and plate the gnocchi. Add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (if using). Serve and enjoy.

Pumpkin and Ricotta Gnocchi
Notes

  • We’re serving our gnocchi with a herbal butter sauce. We use rosemary as the herb (hence the rosemary garnish in the pictures) with a bit of thyme added in.
  • You can use any herb you like, although we think fresh herbs work best. Sage is a popular choice for gnocchi.
  • You could substitute Pecorino Romano for the Parmigiano-Reggiano if you wish.
  • Use good quality ricotta when you make this dish – it’ll make for better gnocchi. 
  • Ricotta can be a bit watery, so you’ll want to drain it. The traditional way is to place the ricotta in a strainer over a bowl, then refrigerate overnight to let it drain.
  • But there’s a quicker method: Press the ricotta into a dish towel or some paper towels, squeezing the water out with your hands. (We’ve tried this, and it works.) 
  • Have fresh cooked pumpkin (or winter squash) on hand? You could purée that and substitute it for the canned pumpkin.
  • We use 2 egg yolks when we make this dish. But you could use whole eggs if you prefer. Whole eggs add more liquid to the mixture, which means you’ll end up using more flour (and will have heavier gnocchi). 
  • The amount of flour required for this dish depends on how much moisture is in the pumpkin/ricotta mixture (and even on how humid your kitchen is). So you need to adjust the amount of flour by “feel.” You’ll want to use as little flour as possible to make the gnocchi lighter. But definitely add enough flour so you can work the dough (and shape the gnocchi). 
  • In our opinion, a bit of extra flour doesn’t make the gnocchi too heavy when you’re using ricotta (that’s more of a problem with potato gnocchi). But too little flour? The gnocchi will fall apart in the cooking water.
  • Want to make sure you’ve added enough flour? Place a small saucepan of water on the stove and bring it to a boil while you’re mixing the dough (Step 2). Just before you cut the dough into 6 pieces, pinch off a gnocchi-size piece and drop it into the water. If it falls apart, you need to add more flour – you can knead it in while the dough is on the pastry board, then test again. If the test piece stays intact while cooking, you’re good to go.
  • Before we cut the gnocchi into pieces, we often flatten the top of the dough logs to form an oblong shape. Since we’re not creating grooves in the gnocchi, we think this shape looks more interesting. But it’s not a typical shape for gnocchi.
  • When we make gnocchi, we always mix and shape it ahead of time, then freeze the entire batch. We cook it frozen (which adds only a minute or two of cooking time). Why do this? Because we almost always make more gnocchi than we can use at one time (so we’ll be freezing some anyway). The disadvantage? Well, it adds an additional step. 
  • We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.

Pumpkin and Ricotta Gnocchi
Dumpling To Be Thankful For

“Mmm, gnocchi!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “And the pumpkin adds extra savor.”

“Yup,” I said. “Gourd big or gourd home.”

“I need to squash these puns,” said Mrs K R.

“But you’re glad I patched you into this meal, no?” I said.

“Lucky for you I’m down in the dumplings,” said Mrs K R. “So I probably can’t strike back.”

Gnocchi on wood. 

You may also enjoy reading about:

64 comments:

  1. This is beautiful and perfect for fall. I have never gotten gnocchi to work--perhaps oblongs would work better for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Inger, it's definitely easier to make oblongs, particularly with this dough. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  2. wow, John, this looks so good! The homemade gnocchi is definitely something I have to try soon.
    Any left for me?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Angie, we've got some in the freezer! So yes, some left for you. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for the tip about using ricotta instead of potatoes- I hadn't thought of that before. I have a little 'gnocchi board' that I use to make the grooves as I roll the dough across- guess that wouldn't work with ricotta though. And sign me up for Brown Butter Sauce- yum!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Fran, we tried to make the grooves, but with ricotta gnocchi -- at least with the amount of flour we used -- no luck. Just fell apart. Good without the grooves, though. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  4. It looks terrific! You really can't beat homemade gnocchi.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pat and Dahn, we LOVE homemade gnocchi. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  5. Oh, man... these beauties have me drooling. Nicely done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pam, pretty easy to drool over gnocchi. Ask us how we know! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  6. Well, it just happens that I have a pretty large butternut squash baking in the oven. Half of it is committed to be taco filling. But this sounds very interesting for the other half. Who knows? Unlike a lot of bloggers I rarely plan ahead for menus.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mae, butternut squash would be lovely in this. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  7. I am craving gnocchi right now! I agree why mess with the grooves in the dough, it all tastes magnifico! Happy Autumn eating!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Roz, the grooves look nice, but such a pain in this recipe! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  8. This looks wonderful John. So simple yet full of flavor perfect for fall. I love dishes like these this time of the year. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vicki, isn't this nice? We love fall weather and fall dishes. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  9. I am salivating. This is the perfect fall dish for me. Seriously.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mimi, perfect fall dish for us, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  10. this sounds delightful KR even tho i don't eat much pasta! I like the sound of this lighter version. Canned pumpkin? not really a thing here...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sherry, I think canned pumpkin is big in the US mainly because people make pie from it. Easy enough to cook squash and use that (which is what I'd do if canned pumpkin wasn't so convenient -- perfect for this recipe). Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  11. This is a beautiful dish and I am sure it tastes as good as iit looks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anne, it's delish. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  12. Just gorgeous but please explain what the pumpkin in a can actually is; would it be cooked pureed pumpkin? Asking for fellow Aussies, thanks John.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Merryn, yes, it's cooked pureed pumpkin. Really, any kind of cooked winter squash works in this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  13. Simple but delicious. And perfect for the season. I love mine with sage. I've never tried using canned pumpkin. Is it comparable in taste to puréed fresh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Frank, the canned stuff is cooked, so it's comparable to puréed fresh that's been cooked (not raw). It's handy to have around. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  14. I'm always impressed when people take the time to make pasta and gnocci from scratch. It's almost always better in every way. And the flavors in this dish are exactly what we're craving in October. :-) ~Valentina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Valentina, it's fun making dough things from scratch. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  15. Pumpkin and ricotta are two of my favourite things, and I happy to see them together in another my favourite dish - gnocchi. Can imagine this with some browned butter and sage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ben, browned butter is great with anything! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  16. I have a whole pumpkin waiting at home to be used, we have good pumpkins in NQ.I should cook more gnocchi, even in Summer. Looks delicious, love the idea of using ricotta, and you have been so generous with your tips. Thanks so much KR.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pauline, your own freshly cooked pumpkin purée would be wonderful in this! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  17. Che piatto pieno di gusto! Si mangiamo con gli occhi questi gnocchi!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Paola, we definitely eat with our eyes. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  18. Definitely something I will be making when we return from vacation! One of my worst kitchen disasters was pumpkin gnocchi. Little doorstops; oh, they were awful… and chewy! Obviously, I needed your recipe! Thanks, John - can’t wait to try this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi David, I find that sticking the dough in the refrigerator to cool down a bit really helps firming up the dough. Don't need to use as much flour that way. But this is definitely one of those "feel" things, alas. Which means just a tad tricky. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  19. My daughter adores gnocchi! You've inspired me to put this on our menu soon (she also loves pumpkin!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Liz, your daughter will thank you. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  20. I've made ricotta gnocchi a few times, but never with pumpkin in the mix. I love this autumnal version and cannot wait to try it. Yum!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Carolyn, we think ricotta gnocchi may be better than the type made with potato. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  21. I must try your recipe. I had pumpkin gnocchi in Germany and this sounds like it would be similar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Karen, this is good stuff -- you'll like. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  22. These gnocchi look divine! I would definitely love this light ricotta version!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kelly, they ARE divine. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  23. Challenge: do you have a pumpkin cocktail? That’s a subject of my blog post today.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mae, I've seen pumpkin drinks, but we've never made one (we're more into classic cocktails). Interesting idea, though -- have to think about that. :-) Fun question -- thanks.

      Delete
  24. This is a delicious comfort food for the current climate. I must try this as I got Gluten free gnocchi from the store yesterday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Balvinder, this is good. I bet a GF flour work work pretty well in this dish. In fact I should try that. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  25. I confess that I have never made homemade gnocchi. This is total fall comfort food! YUM!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Laura, it's totally worth doing. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  26. Nothing beats homemade gnocchi! I made a sweet potato version recently and it was amazing. This looks sooo good for fall!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ashley, we've made sweet potato gnocchi -- it's great! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  27. Gnocchi by hand is worth the effort. I wish I made the effort more often. GREG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Greg, whenever we make it we wish we made the effort more often, too! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  28. This sounds so hearty, creamy delicious!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Raymund, it's really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  29. They look just so delicious! I tried one to make pumpkin gnocchi once but they were so terribly rubbery and hard, I guess I need to use your recipe :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi FT, ricotta gnocchi are much lighter than the potato kind, although a bit tricky to work. Practice, practice, practice! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  30. How did I miss this recipe? So glad I don't often delete my emails. :) I've never made gnocchi before, but this looks like a great place to start. Looks wonderful John!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi MJ, definitely a recipe you don't want to miss. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  31. Wow this is an impressive recipe! It's very fall and very gourmet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Laura, we love this sort of thing in the fall! Really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  32. Replies
    1. Hi Izaa, we love this dish! SO good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete