This recipe for Pumpkin Gnocchi with Shrimp is one I learned while studying an intensive summer boot camp at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. The end dish is subtle, yet contains an amazing deep flavor profile. The pumpkin adds a bit of sweetness, and the rich shrimp stock counters with a savory layer that can’t be beat. This is one of those recipes that you need to fully read through first, make sure you understand, and then exercise flawless ‘mise en place’ (have everything prepped and ready to go before you begin cooking). This is a truly special meal. 140% Loon Approved.
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Shrimp
FOR THE SHRIMP STOCK
- 2 lb medium to large shrimp shells and tails on, deveined
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup yellow onion chopped
- 1/2 cup carrot minced
- 1/2 cup celery minced
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1/4 cup dry Marsala
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 6 amaretti cookies* crumbled
- *Available in the Italian section of most supermarkets or specialty food stores
FOR THE PUMPKIN GNOCCHI
- 14 oz pumpkin puree (canned is fine, don't use pumpkin pie filling) 1 1/2 cups
- 5 oz tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 cup, plust 2 tbsp
- 2 tbsp Grana Padano or good quality Parmesan, grated
- 2 large eggs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
- Freshly grated nutmeg as needed
FOR FINISHING THE DISH
- 2 oz unsalted butter 1/4 cup
- 2 tbsp shallots minced
- 1 cup butternut squash peeled, seeded, and diced
- 1/2 cup shaved almonds for garnish
- 3 tbsp chives finely chopped, for garnish
MAKE THE SHRIMP STOCK
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
Lower the shrimp into the water, and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, or until just cooked.
Drain the shrimp, let cool, and remove the tails and shells. Set the cooked shrimp aside, and place the shells into a mortar and pestle, or food processor, and roughly chop (or crush).
Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the 1/4 cup butter and, when it has melted, add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender and lightly golden.
Add the crushed shrimp tails and shells and saute for another 5 minutes over low heat.
Add the brandy and simmer until the brandy has cooked away, about 3 minutes.
Add the Marsala and cook until the Marsala has cooked away, 3 minutes more.
Add the tomato paste, bay leaves, and thyme; cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has a rich, rusty color and a sweet aroma, another 5 minutes.
Add water to just barely cover the shells and add the crumbled amaretti cookies, and stir to combine and simmer over very low heat for 30 minutes.
Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing the solids well to extract as much liquid as possible. You should have at least 2 cups; reserve any additional stock to use in other dishes.
MAKE THE PUMPKIN GNOCCHI
Combine the pumpkin puree, flour, cheese, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large bowl and stir together with a spoon.
Bring a large wide pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
To shape the gnocchi: Take a serving spoon (not a big one), and dip it into the boiling water and then scoop up a small amount of gnocchi dough and lower it (still on the spoon) into the boiling water; it should fall off the spoon. (you can also do this with a pastry bag with a large round tip...just squeeze into the water, in about 1-inch lengths).
Cook the gnocchi in small batches to avoid overcrowding the pot. The gnocchi will take 2 to 3 minutes to cook.
Use a slotted spoon to lift the cooked gnocchi out of the water and spread each batch on a baking sheet to cool.
FINISH THE DISH
Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the 1/4 cup butter and, when it has melted, add the shallot and diced butternut squash.
Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash starts to lightly brown.
Add 2 cups of the shrimp stock and continue to cook until the stock is reduced by half and the diced squash is completely tender, about 20 minutes.
Reheat the gnocchi in boiling water for 30 seconds and drain well. Toss the heated gnocchi with the sauce, then add the cooked shrimp and continue to toss until the sauce coats the gnocchi.
Transfer to a heated serving bowl, or individual plates, and sprinkle with the almonds and chives.