This dish is an absolute joy, but it’s also a labour of love. Key to getting it right is ensuring you remove as much liquid as you can from the ricotta and the pumpkin, by pat-drying with tea towels. As with any Northern Italian gnocchi, you want to avoid adding too much flour, so the more moisture you can remove, the softer and more pillowy your gnocchi will be. Have a few tea towels on hand and set some time aside. Trust me, it’ll be worth the effort, and the laundry. In Italy, Berici Hills black truffles are used in this dish, but any quality black truffle will be delicious.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cooking Time 45 minutes
- 350 g (12 oz) pumpkin
- 250 g (generous 1 cup) ricotta
- 2 eggs
- 25 g (¼ cup) finely grated pecorino cheese
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 110 g (¾ cup) 00 flour
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 10 g (½ cup) sage leaves
- 4 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1 piece truffle (at least 20 g/¾ oz)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, place on a baking tray and bake for 35–40 minutes or until completely soft.
Using a spoon, scrape out the flesh to give you 250 g (9 oz) pumpkin pulp. Pat dry with tea towels as much as possible. Drain the ricotta cheese and, like the pumpkin, pat dry with tea towels as much as possible.
Place the pumpkin, ricotta, eggs, pecorino and sea salt in a large bowl and mix together with your hands until you have a very sticky dough. Add the flour and gently fold through to make a pliable dough. If the mix is too wet, the dough will require more flour: this can make the gnocchi harder though, so add cautiously.
Separate the dough into four equal parts and roll into logs. Using a knife, cut each one into 2.5 cm (1 inch) pieces. With the back of a fork or a wooden gnocchi tool, press each piece gently into the fork or tool to make an indentation.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the gnocchi. When the gnocchi is cooked it will rise to the surface – lift out with a strainer spoon as it floats up and drain carefully.
Meanwhile, heat the butter and sage leaves in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook until the butter is nutty brown and the sage is crisp.
Arrange the gnocchi on serving plates, sprinkle with the Parmigiano Reggiano and spoon the brown butter and sage over the top. Shave black truffle over each plate and serve
‘Images and Text from Venetian Republic by Nino Zoccali. Food photography by Alan Benson, location photography by Andrea Butti. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99’.