Decisions, Decisions!

I can’t believe it’s Thursday already and a week from today is Thanksgiving! This year just flew by to me. I’m usually very organized with my menu, but this year not so much. Oh course we’ll have the usual, turkey, gravy, stuffing balls, streusel topped sweet potatoes, garlic mashed, green bean casserole  (nothing coming from a can), corn casserole ( because my brother likes it), roasted parmesan creamed onions, cranberries and rolls.
We love to munch on a nice antipasto and pop open some good wine for starters.
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without watching The Godfather marathon some time during the day, in fact I like to have it on in the kitchen while I’m cooking. What happened to Al Pacino? He use to be so handsome, especially in Part 2!
I was thinking of adding this salad for a change, it’s really good, it has roasted acorn squash on top of leafy greens, medjool dates, red onion, whole pecans and goat cheese tossed in a vinaigrette. It looks really pretty set out on a platter.
Here is where my problem is, I can’t decide what kind of pasta dish I’m going to make this year. In our house we always have some kind of pasta dish included in our Thanksgiving meal, it’s tradition!
Butternut squash lasagne goes so well with the whole meal, but I’m thinking, maybe it’s too heavy!
But then I tell everyone to bring containers for leftovers anyway, so they can bring some home in their little care packages and have it the next day, which is just as good.
Or should I just make butternut squash gnocchi? It was a big hit last year. I have a huge squash on my counter right now in case I decide to go for it.
I also have a huge container of ricotta in my fridge, maybe Ill make ricotta gnocchi! Stuffed shells? Manicotti?  I’ll figure it out, I cook good under pressure!

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving, I’ll see you after!


Pumpkin Gnocchi

Gnocchi, humble little Italian dumplings, that when made right, taste like soft and fluffy pillows of dough. Tis the season for pumpkins so I got inspired to make Pumpkin Gnocchi!I often make butternut squash gnocchi during the fall season and lately I’ve been making a huge pan as a pasta side for Thanksgiving, and let me tell you, everyone of them gets eaten up!

I made my pumpkin gnocchi exactly the way I make my butternut squash gnocchi, all I did was replace the pumpkin for the butternut squash, so feel free to interchange them.
Here’s a link to a class I taught on making them.

I bought a sweet little pumpkin from Trader Joe’s, the kind you can make a pie with, cut it in half, seeded it and roasted it until tender. After it cools down, scoop out the flesh. You’ll notice that the pumpkin flesh is a little stringy, but that’s ok, because it all gets whirled in a food processor.
The key to a nice dough is not to overwork it too much, you might have to add a little more flour as you go but in the end it should feel semi firm to the touch.
I just love the color, it’s truly the most perfect autumn meal! Every bite is flavored inside with freshly grated parmesan cheese, they’re so addicting!
They’re ridiculously easy to make, no skills required, they don’t have to be perfect looking, in fact all you need is just a little patience!
They take only a few minutes to cook and then they’re ready to be sauced!
Speaking of sauce I wanted to try something different other than the traditional brown butter and sage so I searched and found this sauce inspired by Chef Frank DeCarlo.Saute 2 shallots in 1/2 stick of butter** add 1 bunch of sage and cook until shallots are golden** deglaze with 1/2 cup of chicken stock** whisk in 1/4 cup of pumpkin/ butternut squash puree, and 1/2 cup of cream** finish by adding 1/4 cup of grated parmesan, then season with salt and pepper.**

Ingredients for Gnocchi

  • 2 cups of  pureed butternut/ pumpkin squash
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 2+ cups flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half. Remove the seeds, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay cut side down on parchment lined baking sheet. Roast the squash until soft—30 minutes or so.
  2. Scoop the flesh of the squash out and place it in the food processor. Puree until completely smooth.
  3. Mix the pureed squash with parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and eggs. Then add the flour into the mixture and work together by hand. It will be very sticky.
  4. Once smooth, flour work surface, Divide dough into 6 pieces and then roll each piece into a long strip, about ½ inch wide. Cut the strip into ¼ to ½ inch pieces.
  5. Using a gnocchi board, a fork, the back of a grater or just as is to create ridges. Place each piece on the floured wax paper and repeat with the rest of the dough.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Boil until all the gnocchi floats—about 5 minutes.
  7. While gnocchi is cooking have your sauces ready so you can toss right in, if not you can freeze them single layer on a baking sheet, when frozen place into bags.
From humble dumpling to mouthwatering perfection!

Making Gnocchi

Recently I taught a class on making gnocchi at my friends gorgeous home, a hands on class where everyone would take part, we started the day off early, I was all prepped and ready to go!

We made two different kinds of gnocchi, butternut squash and ricotta. The squash was roasted, pureed in a food processor along with other ingredients, and then gently mixed into a dough.
Before we started we munched on a few appetizers and had some drinks, because after all we needed to build up our energy!

And then we got down to gnocchi business, with aprons on, each person had a job, some mixing the dough, some rolling, some cutting, but everyone wanted to try out the gnocchi boards, it was fun to see how fast they were all getting, gnocchi was flying everywhere!

We quickly filled up many trays, this was the butternut squash, I just love the color and taste, a big favorite of the day! Very light not heavy tasting at all.

The key to a light and fluffy ricotta gnocchi is to drain the ricotta of all moisture, I placed my ricotta in a fine strainer over a bowl in my fridge overnight, you can’t believe how much liquid comes out! By straining the ricotta you won’t have to keep adding additional flour to soak up that moisture which will keep them nice and light tasting.

I roasted mushrooms with olive oil, onions, garlic and zucchini and tossed the butternut squash gnocchi into it all, topped with fresh chopped parsley and generous amounts of freshly grated parmesan.

This is a perfect autumn dish, they just melt in your mouth, and the roasted vegetables just complement it all.

Another sauce that goes well with the butternut squash gnocchi is a fontina cheese sauce with torn spinach leaves and parmesan.

You can never go wrong with a simple marinara for the ricotta gnocchi, always a favorite!

But my new favorite way of eating them is tossing them into crumbled Italian sausage, roasted mushrooms, onions, garlic and cherry tomatoes. All dowsed with olive oil and freshly grated parmesan, and a sprinkling of fresh basil and parsley. Heavenly!

A fun day it was! Thanks to all who attended. The recipes are quite long so I didn’t put them in my post but I’d be happy to email them out to anyone if you so desire, just contact me at subject, Gnocchi.
Thank you for the overwhelming response I got requesting my gnocchi recipes, I’ve sent out close to two hundred already! I’ve since learned how to post them on my Proud Italian Cook Facebook page. For those of you who are Facebook users you can get the recipes by going to my wall and on the lefthand side under “notes” they will be posted, for any others I will still email them out. Thanks to all!!