I must have been unwell! I spent a couple of weeks not really cooking much at home.. at least not much exciting. But this week I'm feeling slightly more inspired and up for trying some new and fun recipes - particularly when we have pumpkin in the house. It's an ingredient that can be delicious if well treated, but it can equally make an entire dish bland.
So I tried to think of something new and exciting to do with our lovely crown prince squash which came in our delivery from Oddbox over the weekend - something involving lots of cheese, butter and roasted garlic to help the little bugger along. We also had a glut of broccoli in the house so a few little heads got dragged along for the ride (broccoli needs no tarting up to be delicious as far as I'm concerned - but doesn't cheese and butter make EVERYTHING better?)
I decided to make 'Gnudi' - literally 'nude' in Italian - they're meant to be like the filling of a ravioli without the pasta. Think little fluffy, soft ricotta dumplings (with vegetables in, of course). What's not to like! We had them classically to start with - poached and tossed in sage butter. The broccoli ones were awesome.. the pumpkin ones were good, but way better the next day when we fried the leftover mix and ate it with vegetables and a fried egg!
Makes 6-8 depending on the size of your spoons
Half a medium crown prince squash or one medium sized head of broccoli
4-5 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper
A handful of sage leaves
50g unsalted butter
1. For the broccoli: cut into florets, blanch in boiling water until just tender, then plunge straight into icy cold water - this will stop it from cooking and help keep the lovely green colour. Then drain and gently squeeze and shake out as much excess water as possible before pureeing until smooth (we use our nutribullet).
2. For the squash - preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the squash into wedges, and place in a roasting tray with a few cloves of unpeeled garlic. Drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes until soft all the way through. Leave to cool and let of steam / dry out, then peel the skin away from the flesh, squeeze the lovely roasted garlic flesh out of its skin, and puree the whole lot until silky smooth.
3. Mix the cooled vegetable puree with the ricotta, grated parmesan and egg. Sift in the flour, add a generous crack of salt and pepper, and mix lightly until just combined. Put the mixture into the fridge for at least an hour to cool and firm up. (If you want to fry the mix instead, ignore steps 4-6 below - we just fried the chilled mix in an oiled non-stick pan like drop scones.)
4. Heat a pan and add the butter - let it melt and sizzle a bit. Throw in the sage leaves and leave to infuse. Turn off the heat so it stops cooking whilst you finish the gnudi.
5. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Using two spoons, shape your gnudi mix into rustic quenelles and drop into to the boiling water - keep it at a low bubble rather than a rolling boil. Let the dumplings float to the top then cook for a further minute or so before removing with a slotted spoon.
6. Toss the dumplings in the sage butter, and serve immediately with extra parmesan shavings.