Pumpkin Gnocchi with Spinach and Green Chilli Basil Oil

8 Oct

It’s that time of year again. You know it’s definitely Autumn when you see piles of beautiful squashes at the market and I’m tripping over knobbly pumpkins growing out of the fences at the side of the road as I run past the fields with the dog in the morning.

This is the first of many squash and pumpkin recipes to come and I make no apology for that. Their sweet savoury substantial flesh is a welcome addition to any soup or stew and its versatility and ability to slip seamlessly into the cuisine of any country make it an easy choice for this greedy vegetarian,

Some of my personal favourite and most popular recipes feature  the mighty squash. These Butternut Squash & Chickpea Cakes spiced with Cape Malay flavours are easily my most viewed recipe. This Indian Spiced Smashed Pumpkin is comfort food at its best and this Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake with chocolate ganache is heaven.

So after Africa and India we now set foot back in Europe with a classic Italian recipe served with a green and spiced up version of an Aglio Oglio sauce made with our homegrown green chillis which we are now harvesting for the second time this year.

So, I don’t know how many of you out there have ever made Pumpking Gnocchi before, but I have.  They were a complete disaster, dense, heavy and unappealing. You couldn’t eat more than two or three before feeling like your stomach was about to explode. I tried, obviously. Not a good idea.

That kind of put me off ever trying again but that was two years ago and my skills and knowledge have improved slightly since then. And The Washer Up wanted me to, so here I am.

The mistake I made last time, I now know from watching countless cookery programmes on TV, was adding too much flour to the mix. It’s easily done because you think the mixture is too wet and that it will fall apart in the water when you cook them. Trust me, go easy on the flour, you’ll thank me for it. And so will your stomach.

*Mine were probably slightly under floured this time as you can see from the raw shot above. They look like very soft gnocchi, but this made them so light and fluffy when they were cooked. You didn’t get that “Oh god I’ve eaten a duvet” feeling afterwards. A trick is to cook one first and try it. If it doesn’t hold, add a little more flour to the mix.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Spinach & Green Chilli Basil Oil

Serves 2-3, vegetarian. Adapted from Cranks Recipe Book

  • 375 g peeled, cubed squash or pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • a pinch chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper

Preheat oven to 190C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the squash cubes on the tray, drizzle over the olive oil, sprinkle with the spices and season with salt & pepper. Toss with you hands so evenly coated and lay out in one layer on the tray. Bake for 15-25 minutes until soft, depending on the size of your cubes.

  • 50-75 g plain flour ( I used white spelt flour)
  • 30 g finely grated parmesan or manchego cheese
  • 1 small spring onion green parts, finely chopped
  •  a handful of basil leaves, finely shredded
  • salt & pepper

Mash the pumpkin with a potato masher then sieve over 50 g flour and mix well. Then add and mix together the parmesan, spring onion and basil and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Using floured hands, shape the mixture into small walnut sized ovalish balls, put on a floured, lined tray, then roll over with a floured fork to make the pattern and store in the fridge until ready to cook.

*See note above about adding a little more flour a bit at a time and doing a test run if unhappy with the consistency. But don’t add too much flour or your cooked gnocchi will be very heavy & dense.

For the sauce:

  • 4 or 5 tbsp olive oil
  • a handful of spinach leaves, chopped
  • a handful of basil leaves, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded & chopped
  • a cup of the hot pasta water (from cooking the gnocchi)
  • shaved parmesan for garnish
  • pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan for garnish

Heat the oil in a  frying pan large enough to hold the gnocchi over a medium heat and add the sliced garlic and chilli. Cook slowly until the garlic is starting to brown (but don’t let it burn) then remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi in lots of boiling salted water for about 2 minutes. They will float to the top when they are cooked.  Reserve a teacup full of the hot cooking water, put the garlic oil back on the heat and add about half of the cup of pasta water when hot.Reduce this slightly while the gnocchi cooks and add the chopped spinach and basil to create the sauce. Season with salt & black pepper.

When the gnocchi are cooked and you are ready to serve, heat them up in the same pan as the sauce for a minute or two (you can add the rest of the cup of pasta water if it needs it) and then serve garnished with the shaved parmesan & toasted pine nuts.

Buon Appetito!


15 Responses to “Pumpkin Gnocchi with Spinach and Green Chilli Basil Oil”

  1. Allison October 8, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    Oo, yum. I’ve been meaning to make sweet potato gnocchi, but pumpkin gnocchi sounds even better! It looks delicious.

  2. kellie@foodtoglow October 8, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    Natalie, that looks and sounds AMAZING. I have been wanting to make my own gnocchi for absolutely ages – ricotta as well as potato. But this sounds a step above.I appreciate the tip about not over-flouring as that is just the kind of thing I would probably do. Must make this soon! PS I am Kellie, and I am a squash-a-holic (and kale and beetroot -a-holic);D

  3. frugalfeeding October 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    That sounds utterly fantastic! Seriously delicious 🙂

  4. heatherscreativeconcoctions October 9, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    Wow that looks fabulous! I need to make this!

  5. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen October 9, 2012 at 4:51 am #

    I love the squash I’ve seen at our market! (is it squash or squashes?) I would like to try making this.. and you’ve pointed out the first mistake I would have definitely made. Thank you for sharing your recipe!! I’m off to check out your others!

  6. acrimereadersblog October 9, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Great blog. That recipie sounds lovely, I think squash/pumpkin is great. One of my favourites is squash roasted with rosemary, then mashed and served with pasta. Really simple but delicious. Will have to try gnocci making now though! Candi

  7. Chica Andaluza October 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Yummy – we had regular gnocchi last night (shop bought I´m afraid) but these sound amazing. Does Cranks still exist in the UK? I have very fond memories of lunches there (usually on pay day, I was not a big earner at the time!) and it was a real treat!

    • Natalie Ward October 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

      I used to love Cranks too, I don’t think the one in Covent Garden is there any more. I always use to get a takeaway Homity Pie from there in the Winter, and the one in St Christopher’s Place next to Selfridges was always a welcome respite from shopping!! I do miss London sometimes!!

  8. Three Well Beings October 9, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    As soon as I get to a printer I’m printing this one, for sure. Thanks for the hint about too much flour. I’m sure I would have made that error. This just looks wonderful, Natalie. I do a lot of entertaining this time of year. I’d better get practicing on this delightful recipe. Debra

  9. jj October 16, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    This is really egg less?

    • Natalie Ward October 17, 2012 at 12:01 am #

      No, no eggs, the flour makes the squash into a pasta ish dough!

  10. veggie October 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm #


    Could you suggest another cheese to add apart from Parmesan or manchego as I don’t think they are vegetarian

    • Natalie Ward October 31, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      Try vegetarian parmesan if you can get hold of some or any vegetarian hard mature cheese would work.


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