Pumpkin, ricotta and sage gnocchi

    2 hours 30 min

    There are numerous versions of gnocchi in Italy. For the one here, a flour-based dough of ricotta and mashed pumpkin, flavoured with sage and Parmesan cheese, is shaped into the little dumplings. A colourful roasted pepper and onion sauce completes the dish. Serve with a baby spinach and watercress salad.

    2 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 2 red peppers, halved and seeded
    • 1 onion, halved
    • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) pumpkin or acorn squash, cut into wedges and seeded
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 250 g (8 1/2 oz) ricotta cheese
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 3 tbsp chopped fresh sage
    • 30 g (1 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
    • 200 g (7 oz) plain flour, plus extra for rolling
    • salt and pepper
    • fresh sage leaves to garnish

    Prep:1hr20min  ›  Cook:1hr10min  ›  Ready in:2hr30min 

    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6). Spread out the pepper and onion halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Place the pumpkin or squash wedges, skin side up, on another baking sheet. Bake the peppers and onion for 30–35 minutes, and the pumpkin or squash for 45–55 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender.
    2. Transfer the peppers and onions to a blender or food processor and add the oil. Blend until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a saucepan and set aside.
    3. Leave the pumpkin or squash until cool enough to handle, then scrape the flesh from the skins into a bowl. Mash until smooth. Beat in the ricotta, egg, chopped sage and Parmesan, then gradually work in the flour to make a soft dough.
    4. Flour a work surface. Divide the dough into quarters and, with floured hands, roll each piece into a long, 2 cm ( 3/4 in) thick rope. Cut into 2 cm ( 3/4 in) lengths. Press the back of a fork into each piece of dough to make a pattern. Leave the gnocchi at room temperature to dry for 1–2 hours.
    5. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Drop in the gnocchi, 10–12 at a time, and poach them for 2–3 minutes or until they bob up to the surface. Remove with a draining spoon and drain well on kitchen paper. Transfer to a warmed ovenproof serving dish and keep warm in a low oven until all the gnocchi are cooked.
    6. Meanwhile, gently warm the roasted pepper sauce over a low heat. Spoon the sauce over the gnocchi, garnish with sage leaves and serve.

    Parmesan cheese

    Parmesan cheese is not truly vegetarian, as it contains animal rennet. To make this dish 100% vegetarian, omit the cheese or find a suitable vegetarian substitute made without animal rennet. In supermarkets look for the 'parmesan style hard cheeses' which are suitable for vegetarians.

    Plus points

    Like other cheeses, ricotta is a good source of calcium. In addition, it offers good quantities of phosphorus, another mineral involved in ensuring bones and teeth are healthy. Phosphorus is also important in the release of energy from food. * Pumpkin has a high water content, which makes it particularly low in calories – just 15 kcal per 100 g (3½ oz). * Puréed vegetable sauces such as this are delicious low-fat dressings for pasta.

    Another idea

    For ricotta and fresh herb gnocchi, combine 250 g (8½ oz) ricotta cheese, 85 g (3 oz) finely chopped rocket, 20 g (¾ oz) finely chopped parsley, 3 tbsp snipped fresh chives, 1 beaten egg and 30 g (1 oz) freshly grated pecorino cheese. Add 200 g (7 oz) plain flour, 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste, and mix to a soft dough. Shape and cook as in the main recipe. Serve with a roasted tomato sauce: toss 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) small plum tomatoes and 2 garlic cloves in 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, then roast in a preheated 200ºC (400ºF, gas mark 6) oven for 20–25 minutes. Purée until smooth, and season to taste.

    Each serving provides

    A, C, calcium * B1, E, zinc * B2, B6, B12, folate, niacin, copper, iron, potassium

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