We spent a lovely day in the yard – trimming bushes, getting a few more annuals out, planting the (heirloom) tomatoes… I washed the truck… It was a productive morning. Victor headed back inside to catch some of the Saturday PBS cooking shows while I finished the truck.

I came walking in just in time to see Christina Pirello of Christina Cooks making Pumpkin Gnocchi! My mouth immediately began watering… I wanted some. So… off to the kitchen I went. I had already pulled out a couple of pork chops from the freezer, thinking I’d grill them with something. I had no plan this morning, but one was quickly formulating!

One of the great joys in life is being able to walk into the kitchen on the spur of the moment and make something you just saw… I had all the ingredients necessary right in the cabinets!

The recipe is quick and easy:

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Basil Oil

What You’ll Need

pasta dough:

  • 1-2 cups semolina flour
  • 1 cup cooked white rice, pureed until smooth
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup pureed cooked butternut squash or canned pumpkin
  • spring or filtered water

basil oil:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil, left whole
  • Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish

Make the pasta. Sift flour onto a dry work surface. Make a well in the center of flour and add rice, salt, oil and pureed squash. Mix gradually, kneading into a smooth, soft dough by drawing small amount of flour in from the edges as you knead. Add more flour if the dough seems too sticky or more water if it feels too dry–but in both cases, add small amounts very slowly so as not to jeopardize the quality of the dough. Continue kneading until dough is a soft, workable ball, about 10 minutes. Set aside. Makes about 1 pound of dough.

To make the gnocchi, flour a fork. Pinch off 1-inch pieces of dough and roll into balls between your fingers. Run the pasta ball on the fork to create ridges. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet that has been sprinkled with semolina. Repeat until you have made the desired amount of gnocchi. (The balance of the dough can be frozen.)

Bring a pot of water to the boil, with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook the gnocchi until just tender, about 2 minutes. The gnocchi will sink to the bottom of the pot. When it rises, it is done. Drain, but do not rinse.

While the pasta cooks, make the oil. Place all ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat and cook for 3-4 minutes to develop the flavors. Strain the oil and toss with cooked gnocchi. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs and serve immediately.

As I said… Easy. Granted, my gnocchi didn’t look as good as my Italian Grandmothers… Then, again, I didn’t HAVE Italian Grandmothers! It takes a bit of practice to get those gnocchi to roll off the fork perfectly formed. I wasn’t worried about perfection, though. I just wanted them to taste good!

I marinated the pork chops in a bit of olive oil, garlic, and Italian seasoning – same with the zucchini – and onto the grill they went. I added tomato halves drizzled with oil and sprinkled with salt. The pork chops were lookinga bit bare, so I added the grilled peppers from the ‘fridge. (It was a toss-up between grilled peppers and roasted tomatoes in oil. The peppers won.)

I made the basil oil (basil from the garden, of course!) and put the chops, zucchini, and tomato on the grill just as the water was getting ready to boil. Everything came off the grill just as the gnocchi was ready to drain.

The gnocchi itself took about 20 minutes to make – and I have enough dough left over for another full meal – at least. It will be going into the freezer. Dinner took less than an hour to complete – start to finish.

Thanks, Christina!