This post is going to be full of a lot of awesome things – first, because it’s part of a #VirtualPumpkinParty with some other rockstar bloggers, and second because I got to make this recipe with a secret weapon – my best friend!!
Backtracking… It was my birthday at the end of September, but I wasn’t looking forward to it very much. I always have a bit of bad luck on my birthdays. Something bad has happened on that day for as long as I can remember. But actually, this year turned out to be quite nice! Despite everything going on at work, my boyfriend and my friends really cheered me up and we all had a great time. But the best part of my birthday wasn’t to come until a few days later. I had just come back from grocery shopping with my friend Jon, and we were walking down the corridor to get to my apartment. I turned the corner and saw something that took me a few moments to register…. it was my best friend in the world, Alex, standing there with my boyfriend!!
Ryan says he wishes he could have gotten a picture of my face at that moment because it was so funny. I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor. Alex lives in Rochester, NY – which is over five hours away from me. We used to live 10 minutes away from each other in high school, and having her so far away now has been hard for me. But there she was, standing outside my door, with a gift bag and a huge smile.
It took me a good five minutes to process that she was actually here. Then, once it hit me, I just burst into tears – so grateful that she was here, so overwhelmed to be reminded that our friendship was still true, so happy that I would be able to spend the day with her. And, of course, so incredibly grateful that Ryan had put this whole plan together! It was the most thoughtful thing anyone’s ever done for me.
Alex and I were trying to figure out what we wanted to do together that day, and I was telling her about my blog and the Virtual Pumpkin Party I was part of. I told her that I wanted to do something a bit different, savory, and was thinking about making pumpkin gnocchi. She immediately loved the idea and said she would help – which turned out to be quite fortuitous, as Alex is half Italian and has grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins over in Italy. She said she would teach me how to make gnocchi like her nonna – who, of course, is the HOLY GRAIL of cooking knowledge.
So that’s what we did! We made gnocchi, talked, laughed, cooked, and gobbled it all up. :)
Now about the Virtual Pumpkin Party – when Sara of Cake Over Steak asked me if I was interested in taking part of this online celebration, I felt like one of the cool kids had just told me I could sit at their table in the cafeteria. Seriously!! I feel like I’m still a fairly new blogger, and I’ve never been invited to a virtual party or roundup before. And Sara is one of the coolest bloggers out there – she actually makes these kickass illustrations to go along with her recipes, which really sets her apart.
My offering to the party is this pumpkin gnocchi with a reallllllly good parsley and mint pesto (seriously I could eat that pesto by the spoonful). I was going to put “Italian Best Friend” on the list of ingredients, but if you don’t have one of those lying around, just try to send all the positive vibes + love into those little pumpkin dumplings…. trust me, it makes it taste way better. ;)
Harissa-Spiced Pumpkin Gnocchi w/ Parsley and Mint Pesto
- 1 1/2 Cups Pumpkin Purée
- 3 Cups Flour
- 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tsp Harissa Powder
- 1/8 Tsp Salt
Parlsey + Mint Pesto
- 1 Cup Parsley packed
- 1/3 Cup Spearmint packed
- 5-6 Cloves Garlic
- Juice from 1 Lemon and a little zest
- Juice from 1 Orange and a little zest
- 1/4 Tsp Smoked Paprika
- 3/4 Tsp Sea Salt
- 3/4 Tsp Black Pepper
To make the gnocchi, first mix together the flour, harissa powder, and salt until evenly combined. Then, add in pumpkin purée and olive oil. Mix together with a spoon until clumps form, then start kneading with your hands.
Knead the gnocchi dough until evenly mixed. Be careful not to overknead - it will make gnocchi tough. When done, dough should be malleable but not falling apart. If it's too dry, add a little bit more olive oil. If it's too loose, add a little bit more flour.
To make gnocchi shapes, roll out the pasta into little "snakes", about 1/2 inch wide. Cut the gnocchi at 3/4 inch intervals. Keep repeating this process until you are out of dough.
This next step is optional but recommended - using a fork upside down, roll gnocchi down, applying slight pressure, so that little indentations are made. (See photos for reference). This is a very time-consuming and laborious process, but I think it really makes a difference!
Once gnocchi are all done being formed, bring a big pot of water to boil. Cook the gnocchi in batches for 4-5 minutes each, or until they float to the top of the water. I cooked mine in about four batches, but this will depend on the size of your pot.
This next step is again optional, but highly recommended - bring a little olive oil in a pan to medium heat. Fit as many gnocchi in the pan as you can without them overlapping, and sauté in olive oil until the edges are slightly browned. This adds a nice little crunch and greatly helps with the texture!
Parsley + Mint Pesto
To make the pesto, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until leaves are finely chopped.
Putting It All Together
To serve, take as much gnocchi as desired and drizzle or toss with pesto. Enjoy!