Enjoy life like an Istrian

Pumpkin gnocchi with crispy savoy cabbage

Pumpkin gnocchi with crispy savoy cabbage

An Istrian starter, or primo, that has a bit more modern approach.

Over ten years ago, with just a savoy cabbage and pumpkin gnocchi in my freezer, this dish was crafted. It’s a simple, playful contrast of the pumpkin’s sweetness against the savoy cabbage’s bite, the gnocchi’s tenderness against the crispness of the cabbage, all while serving up a visual twist.

For the gnocchi, start with baking slices of pumpkin and boiling unpeeled potatoes (I used the following recipe). Simultaneously, boil a large pot of heavily salted water — think seawater salinity. This is for blanching the cabbage, which will also need an ice bath prepared for after.

Once the gnocchi dough is ready, let it rest on a floured surface while you handle the cabbage. Choose the outer, darker leaves for their texture and color, wash them, and slice into 2 cm wide strips. Blanch them for two minutes to keep them al dente, then shock in ice water, drain, and dry.

Cook the gnocchi in the same water until they’re just done — they’ll cook quickly. In a pan, sauté the cabbage strips in olive oil until they start to crisp up, adding a touch of chopped garlic towards the end.

Serve the gnocchi with the cabbage strips layered in, allowing the yellow to peek through. A final drizzle of olive oil and a generous grating of sheep cheese from Pag island, and you’re set.

When presenting, you might say you’ve gone for an experimental ‘seafood’ dish with pumpkin gnocchi and marine algae. Watch the reactions unfold.