Until last week, I had never bought an actual block of Parmesan. This is mostly because we go through a ridiculous amount of grated Parmesan cheese for a family of two--Mike views the stuff as the Universal Pasta Condiment. I like Parmesan as much as the next person, but Mike applies a heaping mound to everything from spaghetti to tuna noodle and couscous stuffed peppers. If I'm packing Mike's lunch, I use this rule of thumb: dump on more Parmesan cheese than I could ever imagine eating in one sitting, and then pour on some more.
Needless to say, all this Parmesan consumption would negatively impact our grocery bill if we were grating up wedges from the cheese counter. So my initial inclination with this recipe was to substitute the grated cheese in a green canister for the shaved Parmesan garnish. I like a certain amount of simplicity in my cooking and shaving pieces of cheese seemed too fussy for a weeknight. But I went ahead and bought a small block of Parmesan on a whim--it was the best decision I made all week.
There is a time and a place for pre-grated Parmesan (see: every other recipe on this blog), but Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Pumpkin Sauce is not that place. Not because it's a complicated recipe--the prep is straightforward, and the cooking time is less than 15 minutes. But what you get for your fairly minimal effort is a sophisticated little dish, plump gnocchi under a thick pumpkin sauce studded with sautéed mushrooms and bits of fresh sage, with nearly translucent shavings of Parmesan strewn across the top. You could serve it to company, but I think it's better to enjoy it on a weeknight, when adult life seems like not very much fun and a restaurant-worthy dinner gives you the spark you need to face the rest of the week.
I shaved the Parmesan with a vegetable peeler and used canned pumpkin puree (one 15-ounce can of pumpkin is 1 3/4 cups, so I used the extra for a small batch of pumpkin muffins).
Adapted from EatingWell
- 16-ounce package gnocchi
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup sliced shallots
- 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese
Prepare gnocchi according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, heat medium skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and tilt to evenly coat. Add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about one minute. Add mushrooms, sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are browned and have given up their juices, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the pumpkin puree, milk, and 1/2 cup water. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is smooth and bubbling. Season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Serve sauce over gnocchi and garnish with Parmesan.