So after a few requests for my Gluten-free Lactose-free Pumpkin Basil Gnocchi Gorgonzola Recipe, I figured it would be easier to just make a blog post, and direct everyone here to view it 😉
A few notes on my recipes:
1) I don’t follow recipes, I’m more of an intuitive/experimental cook, I go with the “feel” of it…not really very scientific to be honest, as I rarely write down my methods (except for my famous tuna dip, that took 6 months to come up with the right balance of ingredients and methods…but that recipe, is top secret). So, if you’re making this and it doesn’t seem to be the right texture/consistency as I describe here, just add and subtract ingredients until you get the right texture. I’ve tried my best to remember approx. measurements for the ingredients.
2) Everything I cook is always gluten-free dairy-free, because I am coeliac and lactose intolerant, not because I like to follow-trends and be the cool gluten-free hipster (or annoying, to all of us actual gluten-free people). I respectfully disagree with the commonly held (and scientifically unsupported) notion in health and nutrition communities that gluten-free food is “healthier” for you…it’s really not, unless you have a reaction to it. If you’re going gluten free for the health benefits, it is really not going to benefit your health unless you are either Coeliac or Non-Coeliac gluten intolerant. There really is no other good reason to give up naturally occurring gluten containing grains including wheat, rye, barley, oats (yes oats do by definition contain gluten, they contain avenin which is a gluten-protein, it is just that oats have a slightly different structure to the usual gluten proteins, which means that most coeliac’s or gluten intolerant people, can still tolerate oats, but 1 in 5 of us, cannot…I happen to be that one in five, so I don’t eat oats either). The majority of people can tolerate grains, and in fact, grains are an insoluble fibre (carbohydrate), essential to assisting in protein digestion, particularly meat proteins. Including them regularly in a balanced diet, has been shown to reduce incidences of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, intestinal inflammation (unless you’re coeliac), constipation and colon cancer.
So basically, if you aren’t coeliac/gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant, please substitute my gluten free ingredients for regular flour etc, and my lactose free ingredients for regular milk/cream/cheese etc, and leave out the lactase enzyme in the sauce – and feel absolutely zero guilt, there is no scientifically valid reason for feeling guilty for eating gluten or lactose-containing products 😉 (subsequently, if you do feel any guilt for eating specific types of foods, you may actually be showing symptoms of an eating disorder, and you can contact The Butterfly Foundation telephone support line on 1800 33 4673 Monday–Friday 8am to 9pm AEST or find further information about eating disorders here).
- 1x small-medium Butternut Pumpkin/Butternut Squash (depends how much you want to make, but this usually makes enough for about 8 servings – you can freeze what you don’t use for later)
- Nuttelex – dairy free spread (or butter/margarine)
- Maple syrup
- Maldon Salt
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Approx. 1 cup of finely chopped Fresh Basil
- 2x medium sized eggs lightly beaten
- 2x cups of plain (all-purpose) gluten-free flour (I either use White-wings or Greens for gluten-free. Just substitute with normal plain flour if you don’t need gluten-free)
- 1x cup of self-raising (self-rising) gluten-free flour
- A good quality soft gorgonzola cheese (if I don’t have gorgonzola I will just use any other soft or semi-soft blue cheese. Blue stilton makes a nice blue cheese sauce as well)
- Good quality parmesan cheese (buy the block and grate it yourself, none of this “Kraft” parmesan rubbish, it will ruin the flavour of your sauce)
- 1x Zymil lactose-free cream – (or normal thickened cream)
- 2 cups of Zymil full-cream lactose-free milk (or normal full-cream milk)
- Maldon salt (to taste)
- Cracked pepper – I usually use a four pepper mix of black, white, green and pink peppercorns for the sauce, it’s a bit sweeter and less intense than pure black pepper
- 2 tbsp of Nuttelex – dairy free spread (or butter/margarine)
- 2 tbsp of plain gluten-free flour (I either use White-wings or Greens for gluten-free. Just substitute with normal plain flour if you don’t need gluten-free)
- Special ingredient: Approx. 1/3 cup (or a couple of splashes from the bottle) of Champagne, or a dry sparkling white wine
- Cut the pumpkin into squares, (gutting out the seeds etc) and scatter them into a baking tray with skins on
- Get a butter knife and put a blob of Nuttelex/butter on each piece of pumpkin, spreading it around to cover most of the pumpkin
- Grab a palm full of Maldon salt (approx. the size of a 50 cent coin or a half dollar coin in the US), then using your other hand pinch the salt then sprinkle it over the Nuttelex/butter covered pumpkin and keep sprinkling it over the top until it looks like it’s enough (sorry for being vague, everyone has different tastes when it comes to what the “right” amount of salt is, so just use your judgement)
- Crack some black pepper over the top of the pumpkin
- Drizzle with maple syrup (again, a little or a lot, it’s up to you…I just put a light drizzle, as I don’t want it to taste like candy, I just want a gentle sweetness)
- Place baking tray in oven at 180 degrees Celcius (350 F) for about 30-45 minutes (keep an eye on it. The pumpkin should be very soft and mushy when you poke it with a fork)
- While the pumpkin is baking in the oven, make the gorgonzola sauce (scroll down for method)
- When fully baked, allow to cool and then remove the pumpkin skins, place the pumpkin in a large mixing bowl and mash (you can mash it with a fork, potato masher or I usually use a whisk
- Mix in your pre-whisked eggs using your whisk, until fully combined
- Add the cup of freshly chopped basil and combine
- Add cracked black pepper (usually just a couple of grinds otherwise it can be too overpowering) and combine
Now it’s time to get messy. Add the flour one cup at a time, first add a cup of plain flour, then the self-raising and stir the first couple of cups in using a wooden spoon. Once the mix starts to thicken too much to combine with a spoon, get a chopping/kneading board, put some of the plain flour on the board, then turn the dough out onto the board and start kneading the dough while adding the rest of the flour bit by bit once the dough becomes sticky again (see Fig 1.0).
Once the dough is soft, but not sticky (don’t let it get tough, if your dough is tough you will have rubbery gnocchi, that is why you add the flour bit by bit in the last part, so you can monitor the texture and consistency…if you don’t need all the flour, don’t use it all). Next, place a medium sized sauce pan on the stove-top and put it on high-heat to boil the water.
Once it is this soft doughy consistency, break off handfuls, and roll it into approx. 1cm thick logs, then get a smooth edged knife and cut into small 1cm thick slices on an angle to form little bite sized gnocchi pieces (see figure 1.1)
Once you think you have enough gnocchi to serve as many people as you need it for (tip: one cup of gnocchi goes a long way, and is usually enough to make one person very full, it is deceptively filling), place the prepared gnocchi pieces into the boiling water (all at once) and stand-by with a straining spoon to scoop the cooked gnocchi out of the water and into your serving bowls as they float to the top. You don’t want to leave them in there once they have floated to the top, or they will overcook and become rubbery. You can roll the left over gnocchi into logs, cover in plastic wrap and freeze for chopping up at a later date.
Tip for lactose-free: depending on how intolerant you are, you can skip this step if you like. For some people using lactose-free cream and milk will be enough to counter the lactose in the cheeses used. However, I still react, so I usually take extra precautions to avoid a tummy ache by adding a chemist bought liquid lactase enzyme (I use Lacteeze Drops) to the sauce (that I have pre-prepared the day before). Once the sauce has cooled, I usually add 10 drops of Lacteeze at least 24 hours before I plan to eat it. 24 hours is usually an adequate time period for the lactase enzyme to completely break down any remaining lactose in the sauce, and to ensure that it is pretty much as lactose free as you are going to get for this particular meal.
- Place the cream into a medium sized saucepan, add flour and whisk (use an actual whisk if you want smooth sauce with no lumps) until it forms a smooth paste
- Add milk gradually, stirring until combined with no lumps
- Place on a moderate heat stove top, stirring continually with the whisk at all times
- Add Nuttelex/butter, and continue stirring the whole time
- Add a couple of pinches of salt (or more…just add it to your taste)
- Crumble in the gorgonzola cheese, I would usually use about a cup of crumbled gorgonzola, but you can use more or less if you like…just keep stirring it and tasting it as you go
- Grate about a 1/4 cup of parmesan and add that to the sauce while stirring
- Turn the heat up to high and continue stirring the whole time
- Add pepper to taste – continue stirring
- Once the sauce is thick and creamy, not too thick but not runny (it should be velvety smooth see Fig 1.2), spoon it over the gnocchi in the bowls. It should melt off your spoon if you take a spoon full and drizzle it back into the pot
Serving your Gnocchi!
Place the cooked gnocchi in each bowl in even portions, then spoon the sauce over the top (depending on how much sauce you want). Garnish with a pinch of Maldon Salt Flakes crushed in your fingers and sprinkled on top, and a couple of grinds of pepper (I use the four pepper-corn blend for this), and if you like, a few sprigs of fresh basil. Serve with a dry white or sparkling white wine. My favourite wines to pair with this are:
$$$$$ Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, Moët & Chandon Imperial or Bollinger Special Cuvee NV (I am sure there are many more wines that could go in this price range…but I have yet to taste them due to my budget).