Happy 2010! Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season filled with food, festivities, and lots of love. My own Holiday has been chock full of excitement, ranging from wholesome over-eating with the family, to drunken debauchery merry-making (I hope none of my Mother’s friends are reading this) with friends, to a romantic New Years Eve with live music by the fireplace at Caffe Vivaldi with the Mister. So riding on the high of this seemingly non-stop vacation (please never stop!) I thought I’d start off the new year with one of my favorite exciting experiments of 2009. May I present…
The Battle Of the Gnocchis
If you type into the Google Machine “Pumpkin Gnocchi“, you’ll find lots of wonderful recipes by recipe sites and food bloggers with slight variations on how to make the gnocchi. You’ll also see that it is usually complemented with a lemony, buttery Brown Butter Sage Sauce. So I thought I’d change things up by bringing 2 new challengers into the game, and see if they can claim the title of sauce king over the reigning Butter Sage.
But before we begin the competition, I’d like to introduce you to the Pumpkin Gnocchi. A close relative of the classic Potato Gnocchi, Pumpkin Gnocchi is a delicious wonder with golden good looks and a sweet personality. She delights almost everyone she meets and is surprisingly easy and fun to make! Today, she has volunteered herself to be served with the 3 sauce competitors. To create Pumpkin Gnocchi, all you need are:
- 1 can of pureed pumpkin (I used a 15 oz can)
- 2 cups of flour (plus a little extra when you’re rolling the dough)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cups of grated parmesan cheese
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 1 pinch of cinnamon
- A generous sprinkling of salt & pepper
- Cooking Oil
Making the Gnocchi: Combine the flour and pumpkin together, add the spices and seasoning, fold in the egg, and finally the parmesan cheese to give it a pop of flavor. On a floured surface, roll dough into long, 1/2 inch ropes, cut into 1 inch pieces. In a pot, bring lots of water to a boil, add in some cooking oil to prevent sticking, and slowly drop the gnocchi and cook in batches until they float on top (it’s very quick – maybe 3-5 minutes). And there you go, easy, delicious, foolproof gnocchi! So without further ado, let the games begin!
Reigning Champion: Brown Butter Sage Sauce
This sauce is a complete classic. The lemony flavor of the sage and savory butter melts together with the Pumpkin Gnocchi to create an irresistible combination. It’s the quickest sauce to make and does not fail to please.
Round 1: In a saucepan, melt 1 stick of Salted Butter in low heat, chop up 4-6 Sage Leaves and cook in the butter until the aroma of sage fills your nose. Add 1-2 Tbsp of the Starchy Water used to cook Gnocchi to thicken the sauce, and pour over the Pumpkin Gnocchi. Garnish with Parmesan Flakes and additional Sage Leaves on top.
Contender #1: Spinach Pesto Sauce
This Spinach Pesto Sauce is nutty, flavorful, and so well-balanced that it puts anyone who comes into contact with it in danger of overeating! He boasts of healthy ingredients that bring out the sweetness of the Pumpkin Gnocchi. He takes slightly longer to prepare but is well worth the short wait!
Round 2: In a mini food processor, pulse together 1/4 cup Olive Oil, 1-2 scoops of Pine Nuts, 1 handful of Chopped Basil, and a sprinkling of Salt & Pepper until it reaches a fine consistency, but not slushy. In a saucepan, heat some cooking oil, and saute the Spinach until cooked. Add in the pesto mixture, cook for another 1-2 minutes, and pour over the Pumpkin Gnocchi.
Contender #2: Smokey Marinara Sauce
This Challenger is a bit of a free spirit and wild card. Never one to conform to tradition, he encompasses different cultural flavors and brings his big hearty taste and spicy smoky flavor to the competition.
Round 3: In a saucepan over medium heat, pour in 1 can of Diced Tomatoes (I used Trader Joes Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles). Add in 1-2 finely chopped Jalapenos, a generous pouring of Red Wine, and a few shakes of Ancho Chili Powder, Chipotle Chili Powder, and Cayenne Chili Powder. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and pour over Pumpkin Gnocchi.
So did the Brown Butter Sage Sauce reign as the incumbent, or did one of the challengers take the crown? Brian and I sniffed, tasted, and devoure. And after careful deliberation, Brian ruled that the Butter Sage Sauce was still the best, affirming why it remains the most popular accompaniment. I on the other hand, could not stop eating the Spinach Pesto Sauce and deemed that one the winner. We both agreed that while the Smoky Marinara Sauce was delicious, its strong flavors overpowered instead of complemented the Pumpkin Gnocchi. So the final verdict is that: While the Brown Butter Sage Sauce remains a strong contender, there’s a new sauce in town that threatens its throne! Which will it be? You decide!