Specialising in plant-based and free-from recipe development, chef and food writer Bettina Campolucci has shared a pumpkin gnocchi recipe, served with pumpkin seed pesto.
As well as being vegan friendly, this recipe makes good use of leftover decorative pumpkins, with around 15 million pumpkins wasted each year in the UK. Here, a kabocha pumpkin is used, but any can be used instead (though we’d recommend one with lower water content). The pumpkin is simply roasted whole, with the flesh scooped out and incorporated with mashed potato, cut into rustic gnocchi, boiled, then finished in a pan with olive oil. They’re then served with a homemade pesto of pumpkin seeds, basil and garlic, plus grated macadamia nuts in place of cheese.
“This is a great hands-on recipe that uses all of the pumpkin flesh, seeds and all. I tend to buy different pumpkins for decorations and scatter around the house during the colder winter months and this happens to be a great way of using them up rather than just discarding. For this recipe I used up one of my beautiful kabocha pumpkins. However you can also use other varieties. I love making this with my daughter and it can be made into a big batch and enjoyed more than one meal.”
- 1 small Kabocha pumpkin enough to produce approx. 300g of pumpkin purée
- 3 big floury potatoes around 500g
- 250 g flour
For the Pesto (makes 1 x 250g jar)
- 250 ml olive oil plus extra for sealing
- 120 g pumpkin seeds
- A bunch fresh basil around 30g
- 1 garlic clove peeled
- 1/2 tbsp each salt and black pepper
- Grated macadamia nuts
- Fresh basil
- Start by preheating your oven to 180C/Gas 4 and cooking your pumpkin whole for one hour. I simply place the pumpkin on a greaseproof piece of paper on a tray and in the oven for 60 minutes. While the pumpkin is cooking, peel and wash the potatoes and boil them until soft.
- While the pumpkin and potatoes are cooking you can make the pesto. I love using a pestle and mortar and slowly incorporating every ingredient until you have a beautiful pesto base that still has some bits in. Alternatively you can use a blender and pulse until you have a lovely chunky consistency. Once made with either method you can store in a glass jar and top off with olive oil and set aside for later.
- Once your potatoes have cooked, drain properly and leave to cool and once the pumpkin is cooked leave to cool as well. When both are cool enough to the touch, start by opening the top of the pumpkin and scooping out the flesh and picking out the seeds. Once you have enough flesh set aside.
- Add the drained potatoes on a work surface and start mashing with the back of a fork, once mashed add the pumpkin puree and incorporate. Once the potato and pumpkin is well incorporated, start adding the flour little by little and start working the dough. Work the flour in for five to ten minutes until the dough is no longer sticky and forms easily. You should now have a soft dough that holds together, doesn’t feel sticky and can be easily shaped. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes in the fridge.
- Once rested divide the dough into two equal pieces. Roll a piece at a time into long cylinders on a lightly floured surface, again working lightly and quickly. As you roll you will also be gently stretching the dough. Keep the surface well-floured as you don’t want the gnocchi to stick.
- Cut the dough into thumbnail lengths, I like them rustic. I don’t bother to shape and pattern them, I just cook them as they are.
- Bring a large, deep pot of salted water to the boil. Working with a few at a time (don’t cook more than you can cope with) drop in the gnocchi. Let them cook for 2 minutes, during which time they will pop back up to the surface, then scoop them out with a spoon and get them straight into a hot pan with olive oil. Add some of that gorgeous pesto and a little bit of pasta water and serve immediately with some sprigs of fresh basil and grated macadamia nut for nutty flavour.
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