Upon returning from vacation I couldn’t help but notice one of my pumpkins from my collection. The skin of my Marina Di Chioggia had turned much darker than its original green and although I don’t know a whole heck of a lot about pumpkins and their various shades green, I do know that my prized Marina Di Chioggia is one of the most delectable of all the gourd breeds.
From the coasts near Venice, love is in the air for the pumpkin aptly nicknamed “Deliziosa”. The hard, green shell of this heirloom pumpkin may be a pain to peel, or even get into for that matter, but it’s sweet, subtle flavour and silky flesh certainly make it worth it. To claim victory over the tough to surrender peel, just make one cut around to get in and clean out the seeds, then simply roast the pumpkin in a short depth of water for about 90 minutes at 350ºF.
Of all the heirlooms gathered from the patch this season, the glorious Marina Di Chioggia is perfect for just about any recipe. It’s sweet yet delicate and can hold it’s own beautifully in pies, pasta and of course, gnocchi.
Perpetually intimidated by making gnocchi, with or without eggs, I found that this pumpkin is a great addition to the delightful dumplings. Typically worried about them being gummy and dense or at worst, falling apart in the cooking water, I found nothing of the sort. The dough was quite soft, so depending on the extent of draining you do, climate you live in and any other moisture factors, you may have to adjust the amount of flour to create a workable dough.
…And with a terrific yield, everyone can look forward to a few great pumpkin recipes to add to autumn and holiday collection.
MARINA DI CHIOGGIA GNOCCHI
1 1/2 Cups Marina Di Chioggia Pumpkin, about 1/2 roasted
1 Russet Baking Potato, baked in it’s skin
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Scant 1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme Leaves
Pinch of Black Pepper & Nutmeg
1 3/4 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour, plus extra for rolling
Prick with a fork and bake the potato in a 350ºF oven for about 1 hour or in a microwave for 10-12 minutes, turning it over after 6 minutes.
Once the potato is just cool enough to handle, break it open and scrape the inside and continue to mash with the fork or a potato ricer.
Remove the roasted pumpkin from the skin. Place it in a sieve and allow it to drain as much extra moisture as possible.
Purée or pass the drained pumpkin through a sieve.
In a large bowl, mix the potato and the pumpkin purée with the remaining ingredients, adding in the flour 1/4 cup at a time.
Once the mixture comes together as a smooth, workable dough, transfer it to a flat board and cut it into eight pieces.
One by one, roll each of the pieces into 3/4″ diameter cylinders then cut them into 1/2″ pieces.
Using the back of a floured fork, push and roll each of the cut pieces down towards the end of the fork to create the ribbed gnocchi shape.
Roll in additional flour, if necessary and set aside.
Put a large pot of slightly salted water on to boil.
Once the water is rapidly boiling, drop the gnocchi in.
Cook only until the gnocchi begins to float, about 2 minutes, watching carefully being sure not to over cook.
Drain all at once or with a slotted spoon.
Serve immediately with butter, pesto, classic tomato sauce or toss with spinach and thyme.
SPINACH THYME TOSS
Heat about 2 Tablespoons of lactose free margarine (or butter) and add 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh or dried thyme leaves.
Once the margarine has melted and the garlic begins to sizzle, add a full handful of baby spinach leaves, about two cups and sauté to wilt.
Toss the cooked gnocchi with the spinacg to brown slightly.