Gnocchi with roasted pumpkin, pancetta or sage

blogff0002.JPGThat was my second idea. My first idea is in the picture, and I was so sure it was going to work, I would have risked serving it to people I didn’t know and wanted to know better. Mistake #1. Never be sure until you try it. In the picture is a dish of homemade gnocchi with pan roasted yellow beets, and baby yellow onion, fresh thyme, fresh parsley, a wee bit of fresh mozzarella cubed small and a tiny squeeze of orange. Beets and potatoes have a long and happy history of showing up on the same table, in the same soup, on the same plate; the problem is that the little pillow of a gnocchi goes nowhere with the bit resitance that a beet holds onto. Gnocchi don’t like anything stiff.
So I decided I could either forget the gnocchi and roast the beets, potatoes and onions together, all chopped to the same small size, tossed in olive oil and salt, with even some whole garlic cloves and when they come out of the oven, a dusting of fresh parsley, tiny bits of fresh chive and your squeeze of orange, served along side a beautiful ball of fresh mozarella, OR if you have the gnocchi already to go, try a guaranteed to be good.
Roast a little pumpkin or butternut squash instead by peeling it first, cubing it up, and tossing with oliveo oil and salt, then letting it go on a sheet pan at 400 degrees until it is tender. In a separate and heavy saute pan, add cubed pieces of uncured pancetta, maybe a 1/4 pound, with half an onion, and a whole, topped and tailed garlic clove. Let these brown together, and then add about 3 or 4 fresh sage leaves. When all is delicious and done, toss with the butternut squash or pumpkin. If you can’t find decent pancetta, you can always use a sweet sausage cut into bite size pieces. Cook your gnocchi as you should (I’ll explain), toss with your pumpkin mixture and then add a tablespoon full or 2 of the gnocchi cooking liquid if you need moisture, a tab of butter, and a handful of parmesan. If you like it really saucy, you could add a small can of plum tomatoes, drained of their liquid and squished in a bowl, before adding to the pancetta.
This is delicious.
(For gnocchi boil 3 unpeeled baking potatoes in salted water. When completely soft, remove from the water, spill the water out, and put the potatoes back into the pan, over medium heat for a minute, just to dry them out. Peel and mash immediately or put through a ricer (even better) until smooth; add salt to taste. Make a well in the potatoes. Add one lightly beaten egg. Dump in about 1 cup all purpose flour, starting with 3/4 cup, just in case you started with smallish potatoes. Fold the flour in with your hand, no squeezing the dough through your fingers, until you have a nice, not so sticky dough. Cut into 4 pieces, and roll each into a 1/2 snake. Cut off pieces with sharp knife, about 1/2 inch to an 1 inch long, but all the same. Rest them on a sheet pan that has been dusted with cornmeal. When all the gnocchi are done, cook about 15 to 20 at a time in a big pot of boiling water. As soon as they rise to the top, remove them to a sieve, and then into a warm ceramic bowl that has a few tablespoons of room temperature butter in it. Cover the bowl with a cloth to keep the gnocchi warm.

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