Tag Archive for pasta

pumpkin gnocchi

pumpkin gnocchi

Gnocchi aren’t really difficult to make once you know the rules. Until then they can be mysterious and tricky, sometimes tough, sometimes falling to pieces in the water as they cook and sometimes turning out perfectly. I had a number of failures until I spoke to my Italian neighbour 15 years ago.

The good news is that there are only three rules that apply to any gnocchi, whether you are making them with potato, pumpkin or sweet potato.

  1. use a floury vegetable (potatoes really are the best as they require the least flour)
  2. use the minimum amount of flour you can get away with
  3. don’t knead them any more than is needed to just incorporate the flour.

For potatoes this means using a steamed floury variety and for pumpkin and sweet potato roasting them to keep them fairly dry. Minimal handling is necessary because otherwise kneading and overworking the dough will activate the gluten which will make the gnocchi tough.

Sadly, the bad news is that it is very difficult to convey in words just how to know when you have added enough flour. The only way is by feel and experience. I was told by my neighbour that the dough should feel like an earlobe.

Along the way you’ll possibly have some failures, but once you get it right, it is easy to whip up a batch on autopilot in very little time.

In my garden, the pumpkins are starting to be in season and the tomatoes are coming to an end so I decided to make some pumpkin gnocchi for dinner. I served them with a tomato, garlic and chilli sauce with a little grated Vegusto Piquant cheese.

 

pumpkin gnocchi
 
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author:
recipe type: vegan
cuisine: italian
serves: 2
ingredients
  • 220 grams of roasted pumpkin flesh
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
instructions
  1. Combine the pumpkin, salt and about ¾ cup of flour.
  2. Turn out on to a bench and make into a ball with as much of the flour as needed, Use just enough.
  3. Divide dough into 3 pieces.
  4. Roll the dough into 2cm sausages
  5. Cut the sausages into 2 cm lengths
  6. Cook in boiling water until the gnocchi float to the surface.
  7. Allow them to cook for 30 secs more and scoop out and drop into your sauce.

 

 

 

adventures with fresh pasta

fresh pasta

I love fresh pasta. It is light and soft but with a pleasing elasticity that holds it together and gives it some body. It is a completely different experience to eating dried pasta. Both are great, neither is superior to the other. They are just different.

When I bought my new Kitchen Aid mixer recently, I also bought a pasta roller attachment. Today was the first time I’d had a chance to try it out. It is far easier than rolling by hand, and it solves the problem of needing three hands – one to turn the handle, one to feed the pasta in and another to catch it!

kitchenaid with pasta roller

Most fresh pasta recipes call for eggs to be used. Clearly that wasn’t an option, so I did a bit of hunting on the internet and discovered that fresh pasta in the region of Puglia (the heel of the Italian boot) and other parts of southern Italy and Sardinia is not made with eggs, but just flour, water and sometimes oil.

Making fresh pasta is a messy business, my kitchen was covered in flour, but I think it is worth it. My first attempt was pretty good, though it looked a little pale and ghostly when it was cooked because there was no yellow colour from the egg. Apart from that the dough was great, even though I had rolled it a bit too thinly and slightly overcooked it in the blink of an eye.

The other half of the batch I rolled slightly thicker and watched it eagle-eyed as it cooked, wary of leaving it too long. Perfection.

I tossed it in a sauce I had simmering. It was made of olive oil, garlic, basil, zucchini and chopped fresh tomatoes from the garden, cooked until just softened and topped with some grated Vegusto Piquant. The sauce looks a strange brown colour because it is made from a mix of red, yellow, black and green tomatoes.

fresh pasta with tomato sauce

Next up I will be trying the fresh pasta in a lasagna and I’ll also have a go at colouring it with spinach and beetroot.

Stay tuned!

 

fresh pasta
 
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author:
recipe type: vegan
cuisine: Italian
serves: 2-3
ingredients
  • 190 grams of flour - a high protein specialty pasta flour works best, usually marked 00
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 70 mls of water
  • a pinch of salt
  • extra flour for dusting
instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together until they form a soft but not sticky ball. (I used the dough hook on my mixer, but you could do it in a food processor, or by hand.
  2. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into two parts.
  4. Roll the dough starting at the thickest setting.
  5. Fold the dough into 4 lengthwise and rotate 90 degrees before putting the dough through again.
  6. Do this 3 or 4 times until the dough is coming out smoothly.
  7. Pass the dough through the roller adjusting the thickness on each pass until it is how you like it. I used the setting number 4 on my dough roller for the final pass.
  8. Dust with flour, fold in 4 lengthways, rotate 90 degrees and hand cut across the width. I cut mine about 1 cm so they were probably either narrow pappardelle or wide fettucine!
  9. Cook in LOTS of boiling salted water. Don't skimp on the pan size or it is likely to stick together. The pasta takes very little time to cook, I bring mine back to the boil and count to 10 then taste to see.

 

spring vegetable braise with pasta

spring vegetable braise with pasta

I love spring. I love it for the light, the warmth and the sense of renewal and hope. I also love the return of delicious spring vegetables.

This dish is so easy to make, a few small vegetables, some herbs, stock, oil, vegan butter and lemon or lime juice.

The added bonus for me is that all the vegetables came from my garden. Snow peas, artichokes, asparagus, thyme and parsley, straight from the garden and into the pan. I used a lime instead of a lemon because I had one last one hanging onto the tree.  I always get a thrill when cooking an entire dish with vegetables from my garden.

This braise can be served over pasta or any other grain, or served in pastry if you wanted to get fancy.

But I usually keep it simple and serve it with some fettucine or pappardelle pasta. The vegetables are the star in their buttery, lemony sauce. And they take less time to cook than the pasta.

spring vegetable braise with pasta
 
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author:
cuisine: vegan
serves: 2
ingredients
  • 2 globe artichokes
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs vegan butter
  • 1 cup stock
  • 16 snow or sugar snap peas
  • 16 spears of asparagus
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
  • 20 thyme leaves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt
instructions
  1. Prepare the artichokes and cut the hearts into quarters.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the artichoke pieces until lightly browned.
  3. Add the stock to the pan, bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cover.
  4. Cook for a few minutes until the artichoke pieces are just tender.
  5. Add the other vegetables, cover and cook for a minute or two.
  6. The stock should reduce down to a slightly thicker syrup. If it hasn't, remove the vegetables, reduce over high heat and return the vegetables to the pan.
  7. Stir in the herbs, butter and lemon juice.
  8. Season with salt to taste.
  9. Serve over pasta.
notes
There are a number of good videos that show how to prep artichokes.
Here is on from the BBC http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/technique/how-prepare-globe-artichokes

 

 

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