Day 22 of 31 days of pumpkin and I am really moving out of my comfort zone now. I’ve never made gnocchi before, or any fresh pasta for that matter, but I was inspired by a beautiful cookbook I have, A16 Food + Wine, the cookbook for the restaurant A16 in the Marina district of San Francisco. It’s called A16 after the highway in Italy between Naples and Canosa. The book is a beautifully designed and photographed tome that I am just getting into, but when I spotted a recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi, I thought, “I could put pumpkin in that,” and that’s what I did. And it worked.
Choosing the sauce to go with pumpkin gnocchi was a no-brainer: it has to be a sage cream sauce. Pumpkin and sage, they’re like Abbot and Costello, Brad and Angelina, Click and Clack (you know, the Tappit brothers).
Day 3 of 31 days of pumpkin brings us to a savory recipe.
The secret to this pumpkin soup isn’t the sage (that’s in the title after all). It’s the fact that the onions are caramelized first. Caramelizing onions takes a bit of time (about 30 minutes, in fact), but it’s well worth it to bring out the sweet, nutty flavor hidden inside. The trick to caramelizing onions is to keep the temperature very low while they are sautéeing. Caramel is created when sugar undergoes controlled pyrolysis – the chemical decomposition that happens when organic stuff gets hot. If it gets too hot, then it gets charred. Char creates the familiar grill marks on a perfectly grilled steak. We’re not charring the onions, we’re trying to decompose the sugars in such a controlled way that they turn into caramel and that takes controlled temperature for a long time.