Rolling gnocchi off an antique butter paddle. The whimper in the background is my dog Ipo letting me know it’s time for her mid-morning snack, not kidding.
I veganized this recipe from an old Martha Stewart show. You can watch the video here. The famous chef says this recipe is hundreds of years old. I had never made gnocchi before and this combination sounded so good. And, it is. There’s a line in one of the Isabel Dalhousie novels where she says something like, “I think chanterelles just elevate a dish, don’t you?” They sure do, and their golden color and flavor are so simpatico with the pumpkin and this time of year. It wasn’t hard to veganize this. I lightened it up by substituting cheesy (and vitamin packed) Nutritional Yeast for the parmigiana, and then used rich soy creamer and vegetable stock. I also couldn’t see using two Tablespoons of salt. One thing I ran into was that I needed a lot of bench flour, like more than an extra cup of it. The dough was so sticky. Watching the video helped, and I noticed that the chef used a lot of bench flour too. I had never cooked with sage leaves in this way before, and was surprised at how wonderful and mild the flavor was. With the golden chanterelles and the squash flavors, it was like a little Fall symphony! p.s. My gnocchi look a bit clumsy, but they taste great. There are also some good videos on youtube where they show the old method of rolling the gnocchi off a fork to get the sauce-catching ridges in them. Like this one. These gnocchi freeze very well too.
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Mushrooms
1 small sugar pumpkin (1.5 to 2 lbs.), stem removed, halved lengthwise and seeded (or use my easier baked pumpkin method) (I bake two un-cut pumpkins since I’ve got my oven going)
2 Cups “00” (zero zero) flour, plus more for work surface (or all-purpose flour, which is what I used)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt in the flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt in the water
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for serving
1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
2 Tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance Buttery Stick)
2 shallots, finely chopped
20 medium chanterelle mushrooms, well rinsed, and sliced or trimmed
6 fresh sage leaves
1 Cup vegetable stock (I like Better Than Bouillon stock base, some are vegan)
1 Cup soy creamer (I used Silk brand)
1 teaspoon dry sherry (totally optional)
Use my easier baked pumpkin method, or do the following:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place pumpkin halves, cut side up, on baking sheet and fill each with one Tablespoon of water.
Cover with foil.
Transfer to oven and roast until soft, about 45 minutes. Let cool.
Scrape pumpkin flesh from skin, and discard skin.
I like to puree my pumpkin flesh now.
Reserve 1/4 Cup of pumpkin puree (for the sauce).
Mound flour in center of a large work surface; add 2 teaspoons salt and the nutmeg. Using a fork, mix until well combined.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
Add up to 2 cups pumpkin and the Nutritional Yeast to the well.
Slowly incorporate flour, beginning with inner rim of well.
Note; I used another whole cup of bench flour to get rid of extreme stickiness.
When flour is incorporated, gather dough together to form a rounded mass; knead mixture until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes.
Divide dough into 6 equal pieces.
Roll each piece of dough into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter; cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces. My knife kept sticking to the dough, so I switched to a plastic pastry scraper and it worked great for cutting the gnocchi.
Transfer gnocchi to a baking sheet and cover with a clean, wet/damp towel.
Repeat process until all the dough has been used.
Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.
Add last teaspoon of salt to water, and return to a boil.
Add gnocchi and cook until they rise to the top, about 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat and add butter and shallots.
Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until shallots are golden.
Add stock, mushrooms and sage; cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup pumpkin, vegan creamer, and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
If you want to, you can add an extra Tablespoon of Nutritional Yeast here.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to skillet and toss to combine.
Serve immediately with freshly grated nutmeg.
Everyone can season with salt and pepper at table.
Notes: You can make the pumpkin a day ahead, as I did. Note that once you begin to add the mushrooms, sage, etc., the sauce should be done in a couple of minutes. If you overcook it at that point, it sort of turns into a loose pumpkin puree, instead of a creamy sauce. I was surprised at how pleasant and mild the sage leaves were. The second time I made it, I put the mushrooms in a couple of minutes earlier, and added 1 teaspoon of dry sherry, and we really liked it. Be sure to rinse the chanterelles really well as they can have teensy bits of grit in them. You could use cheaper mushrooms, but now that we’ve tasted the chanterelles in this dish, I wouldn’t even make it without them. Their golden meaty flavor is just perfect here. These gnocchi freeze very well.