Recipe: My little pumpkin dumpling

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Indy Lifestyle Online
EVERY so often a recipe arrives that seduces by associations. It is a family recipe from a simpler era. It is from someone who really loves to cook. This is the case for our opening week of cooking with pumpkins. The recipe is for gnocchi di zucca, a sort of pumpkin dumpling, from Oscar Del Fabbro of Battersea, south London.

He is an Italian from the Friuli region. This recipe is from his grandmother, who adapted it from years she spent in Austria at the turn of the century. She would have laughed at the sight of me struggling to form the dumplings in the traditional manner, by flipping them off the inside curve of a fork. In the first of three attempts, I managed to reduce them to rubber. I finally ditched the egg called for in the dough and achieved a lighter, delicately flavoured dumpling. Do not be tempted to put it in a food processor.

Mr Del Fabbro wins two bottles of 1991 Avignonesi Bianco from Reid Wines, near Bristol.

Gnocchi di Zucca

Serves 2-4

Ingredients: 1lb/450g fresh pumpkin cooked to 8oz/225g puree

4oz/115g flour

1/4 tsp salt

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1tbs cinnamon and sugar mix

(1 part cinnamon to 2 parts sugar)

1tbs butter

Preparation: Peel and cube pumpkin and cook in a saucepan with 4tbs water over a low heat for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it does not stick. Press through a sieve, discarding excess water. You should have about 8oz puree. Cool it, add salt and a good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Mix well. Gradually add the flour. The amount will depend on the pumpkin and the flour: stop when you have a loose and tacky dough.

Flour your hands, a board and a plate. Knead the dough lightly. Cut off a piece and form a roll approximately 1in in diameter. Slice the roll in 1in pieces so you have walnut-sized gnocchi. Press with a fork to flatten them; thick ones will cook unevenly. Lay the dumplings on the floured plate.

Have ready a large pot with plenty of boiling salted water. Slide the gnocchi into the pot, about a dozen at a time. Do not overload it. If you do, they will stick to the bottom in a gluey mass. They are cooked when the water returns to the boil and they rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon, decant to a warmed dish and brush lightly with melted butter or olive oil. Repeat with second batch of dumplings.

Sprinkle 1 heaped tbs of mixed cinnamon and sugar over them, and pour over 1 good tbs of lightly browned butter. Alternatively, they may be served with tomato sauce and grated parmesan.

Next week: more pumpkins. Recipes should be sent to Emily Green, Recipe, Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. We also welcome suggestions for our new category: winter stews. The prize will be a bottle of 1991 Charles Melton Nine Popes from Barossa Valley, Australia.

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