‘Tis the season for pumpkins, so we rented a car and visited our local Swiss pumpkin patch last weekend. I needed a pumpkin for a recipe I wanted to try: “Gnocchi a la courge aux chanterelles.” Plus, we thought the boys would enjoy it too—especially when we realized there was a big Halloween display with dancing witches, dangling spiders and a steaming cauldron.
Along with the Halloween decorations, the place we went to in Gampelen has hundreds of varieties of “courge” (French for “squash”). For my gnocchi, I selected a reddish orange “Potimarron.” Also known as the “Hoikkaido” squash, the Potimarron apparently has a slight chestnut flavor—hence the “marron” in its name.
For the chanterelles, I went to our local farmers’ market. On Saturdays, one of the vendors has huge piles of the beautiful golden mushrooms. I love them, but my boys generally avoid mushrooms—unless they’re finely chopped or wrapped in pastry, like the empanadas I made last year.
I had never tried making gnocchi before, but the recipe’s combination of pumpkin and chanterelles sounded so nice. Plus, I had recently come across another easy gnocchi recipe sans eggs, so I knew it could be possible. For my version, I used a flax meal mixture instead of the egg (1 tablespoon flax meal and 3 tablespoons water). I substituted dairy-free margarine for the butter, but I really missed the flavor. To compensate for the missing butter, I add a little more salt and lots of freshly chopped tarragon.
The boys and I had fun making the pasta pillows, but it certainly took some time. My 6-year old made his own batch. My 2-year old got a chunk of dough to play with, which ended up stuck all over his hands like paste. Going forward, I’ll make gnocchi maybe once every couple months. It’s just too much work to do it more often than that (at least for me!).
For a quick after-school lunch the next day, I added the leftover gnocchi—along with finely chopped spinach and brown mushrooms—to some jarred tomato sauce. This seemed to win over both boys (although less so for the 2-year old), so I will definitely try this again with a little sausage or prosciutto thrown in.
I still have lots of “potimarron” to use up, so I need to make some soup! Or a Bundt cake… Bon week-end, everyone.