HISTORY OF GNOCCHI
Gnocchi are popular throughout Italy as they are quick and easy to prepare, and are made with different ingredients from potatoes to polenta and pumpkin.
Gnocchi most likely was the first form of handmade pasta. Stir a little of flour (millet, spelt, wheat) with little water, make balls and throw into boiling water.
The word Gnocco is a longobard term (knohha, meaning knot) of medieval times, defining any round-shaped dough.
In past centuries and even today in some areas, the word gnocco is synonymous with macaroni. In the 14th century. Boccaccio, in the Decameron, speaks of “macaroni rolling down a mountain of grated cheese”, probably alluding to a kind of “gnocchi”.
The first gnocchi were made with semolina flour, and gnocchi with potatoes or corn were used only towards the end of the 18th century. Gnocchi are also of different size depending on the sauce and are called differently: canederli in Trentino, knodeln in South Tyrol, steamed gnocchi in Friuli Venezia Giulia, potato gnocchi in Veneto, bava gnocchi in Piedmont, gnocchi alla Lariana in Como, maccheroni in Romagna, gnocchi alla romana in Lazio.
This pumpkin gnocchi recipe is typical of the Northern Italian cuisine and is consumed mainly in Autumn, when pumpkins are in season.
This fall dish is dedicated to Papa’ Gnoco, Tomaso Da Vico, the most celebrated patron of the Carnival of Verona. His mask is that of an old man, benevolent and bearded, holding a large golden fork with a potato gnocco on the end. This tradition in Verona dates back to the terrible famine that struck the city in 1531. Hungry citizens poured into the streets to attack the ovens and the revolt was averted by the intervention of Tomaso Da Vico who had distributed, at his own expense, bread, butter, flour and cheese on the last Friday of Carnival. Every year, this event is reenacted during the Carnival of Verona.
Pumpkin Gnocchi - Gnocchi di Zucca
- 1 3/4 lbs Pumpkin - butternut squash
- 5 oz Italian "00" flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper to taste
- nutmeg to taste
- 2 oz butter
- 8 sage leaves
- grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Begin by preparing the pumpkin. Cut it in half, without removing the peel, and place in a baking dish lined with coarse salt. Cover the pumpkin with aluminum foil and cook at 350°F oven for about an hour.
Once the pumpkin is tender, remove it from the oven and let cool: then peel and pass through a potato masher, a mill or food processor..
To make the dough for the pumpkin gnocchi, place the mashed pumpkin on a flat work surface. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix together with the egg and flour.
Check the consistency of the dough: it should be soft and light and not stick to your fingertips.
Begin to shape the gnocchi.
Dust the work surface with a little flour and cut off a small amount of the gnocchi dough. Roll this into a log and cut into small cylindrical pieces.
Once all the gnocchi are made, throw them in a large pot of boiling salted water.
When the Gnocchi rise to the surface they are ready. Remove with a slotted spoon. And carefully toss them in the skillet with the melted butter and sage sauce
Finish with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Pumpkin is a common fall ingredient in Italy and can be used for different preparations, both sweet and savory. However, it is important to pay attention on the moisture content of the pumpkin you are using. If it is too moist add more flour - little by little until you get the right consistency.
White Wine Pairing: Full bodied white wine with freshness and softness like or Fiano or as perfect sparkling metodo classico like Franciacorta.
Red Wine Pairing: Sorbara Lambrusco, slightly acidic fresh wine – this is the perfect wine for this dish!