Fresh Pumpkin Gnocchi, Fall Salad with Pepitas, Pumpkin Mousse
Submitted by Kiteless
Note: This Meal won Iron Chef SA 003:Squash
For Iron Chef squash battle, I made a 3 course meal: Fresh roasted pumpkin gnocchi with hazelnut cream sauce; Autumn salad with fall fruit, pumpkin seeds and champagne vinaigrette; and Pumpkin mousse with cream and dark chocolate.
Since I have a lot of stuff going on, I'm going to post pics of the finished product here at the beginning, and then show the steps I took individually for each dish even though I worked on them all at the same time (minus roasting the pumpkin, everything took about 3-4 hours)
Step 1: Roast the pumpkin
- Get 3 small sugar pumpkins of about 10" in diameter, very carefully slice in half with a heavy knife and scoop out the seeds. You could probably get away with 2 pumpkins since I had a lot of leftover flesh. Lightly oil the cut edges of the squash, and place cut side down on a baking sheet into a 350 degree oven, and roast until tender and you can poke through the skin easily with a fork, about 40 minutes.
- Remove from oven, let cool, and scoop out flesh. Process in a food processor until no more lumps remain (check for large lumps with a spoon). It will look like this:
- You can do this a day or so in advance, I did it the night before.
- 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup plus 2 TB pumpkin
- 2/3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (use a fresh nutmeg nut)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Whisk 3/8 cup of cream, sugar and egg yolks in a medium saucepan until blended.
- Continue stirring over medium low heat until very thick, taking caution not to boil, about 10 minutes.
- Pour into a large bowl, and add pumpkin, vanilla and spices. Refrigerate until cold, about 30-40 minutes.
- After that's chilled, beat the rest of your whipping cream until peaks form. Be careful not to over beat, or you'll make butter. Almost there:
- Set aside a ? cup of the cream for garnish.
- Fold the rest of the whipped cream gently into the mousse.
- Crap, my whipped cream deflated a bit. That's ok. Let's re-whip it and see if we can save it.
- Hooray, the mousse is saved. Now you can refrigerate it for several hours or up to a day before serving. Serve in small glass footed bowls, champagne flutes, or whatever you find looks pretty. Garnish with dark chocolate curls. To do this: get some good quality dark chocolate (I used Valrhona 71%). Hold the bar in your hands for a minute to gently warm up. Then, using a vegetable peeler, pull along the smooth side of the bar until you have chocolate curls.
- Mmmmm, pumpkin mousse.
On to the Gnocchi!
- 2 cups pumpkin
- 1 1/2 cups AP flour, plus more for rolling out the gnocchi
- 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated
- 1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
- ? tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon or heavy spatula. Spread ? cup flour on a large cutting board and gently knead the dough until most of the stickiness has gone away. Add more flour as necessary; my pumpkin has a higher water content than canned pumpkin so I probably added about another 1/2 cup of flour. Knead as little and lightly as possible to keep the gnocchi tender. When you're done, roll it into a ball.
- And divide it into quarters or sixths. Take each portion, and roll it out into a long cylinder around ? to 1" in diameter.
- Cut each log into little pieces and place on a lightly floured baking sheet. These can keep in the fridge for several hours until you're read to use, or you may freeze them on a baking sheet, and once frozen, put them into a freezer baggie for up to a month. They can be cooked frozen, they'll just take an extra minute or two.
Now, on to making the hazelnut cream sauce!
- Roast about 1/2 cup of hazelnuts in a 350 degree oven (I used my toaster oven) until fragrant and lightly browned. While still warm, place in a textured kitchen towel and rub together. This will loosen the skins.
- When all the skins are removed, lightly chop or smash and place in a small saucepan over medium heat with a bit of butter. Let cook for a few minutes.
- Add a bit of salt, pepper, freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/3 cup of heavy cream and about ? cup of chicken broth. Let cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and a lovely sauce consistency.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the gnocchi while stirring the pot to prevent them from sticking to the bottom and each other. When they float to the surface, boil for another two minutes, then either move to a pan of warm water to hold, or drain and plate.
- Pour the sauce over the gnocchi, and garnish with fresh thyme and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- Mmmm, gnocchi!
Now let's make the salad
- If you're making the full meal, you would do this while the sauce is cooking and before you boiled the gnocchi.
- Baby mixed greens
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 Bosc pear
- 1 pomegranate, or ? cup pomegranate seeds
- Champagne vinegar (mine was flavored with orange juice)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Pepitas (roasted and salted pumpkin seeds)
- First cut up your pomegranate and remove the delicious seeds. Cut off the top and bottom, slice the sides away, and cut down the middle. Now use your fingers to remove the seeds - be careful, as you can see pomegranate juice will spray, so don't keep anything nearby that you don't want to be stained. I strongly suggest wearing an apron.
- Now cut your Bosc pear in half, then in quarters, and remove the center and seeds. Slice thinly into a fan shape and set aside. Also shave some of your cheese and set aside. No pics, sorry.
- To make the vinaigrette: pour about ? cup of vinegar into a bowl. Add salt and pepper. Begin whisking, and add about 1/3 cup of oil in a steady stream to emulsify.
- Now, plate your salad - place the pear fans to the side, plate the greens, add pepitas and pomegranate seeds, dress with dressing and garnish with shaved cheese.
- Mmmm, salty, sweet, tart, rich, soft and crisp all at once.