(with and without Gluten)
As you may know, gnocchi is a type of Italian pasta, usually homemade, most often made with mashed or riced potatoes and unbleached flour. There are many other different varieties of gnocchi, as it can be also made with anything from sweet potatoes, ricotta cheese, cream puff dough, spinach, chestnut flour, semolina flour, and more. I have a version that uses acorn meal in my upcoming cookbook. Many versions use egg along with the potato and unbleached flour, but I prefer only to use eggs when I make the gluten free versions, as they really help to bind the gluten-less flour to the potato. The gluten-y gnocchi (pronounced NYO-key, in case you were wondering), come out perfectly without the egg, and then it’s vegan-friendly, as well!
To Process Acorns:
Pick acorns. Just ripened is ideal, but in New Mexico I have often picked them while still a bit green. Be sure there are no holes on the surface of the acorn shell, which indicates worms. Once you get them home, the sooner you can roast them in the oven the better. If you can’t do this right away, stick them in containers in the freezer, and roast them as soon as you get time. Roast them (with the shells on) at 300 degrees until the nuts inside the shells darken and become fairly hard, if you’re using them for cooking after roasting. The length of roasting time will differ according to the size of the acorns. If roasting for storage not in a freezer, cook them until the nuts inside the shells are very dark brown and your fingernail will not make even a tiny dent in a nut, but take them out before they blacken. Then you can store them in glass jars or, preferably, food grade plastic containers with some holes punched into the tops of the containers, for some air ventilation to prevent mold. After shelling, in my experience, the hard nuts can be kept in glass jars for at least a year, although this may be different in damper climates, I’m not sure.
I was going to make my beloved Acorn Cornbread on Thanksgiving day. But, as things went, our household decided to go to the Indiana River that morning, to give thanks to Mother Nature in our own way. It was an incredible morning, with a light drizzle of rain, and fog drifting all over the forested mountains. I swam in the very cold river., and sang, and we all sang and howled like the pack of happy little creatures that we are, out in the wild with no one around. We saw an incredible rainbow, and, later, Monica brought us to see a whole field of Darlingtonia plants, which completely blew our minds.
Not to mention, that on the way there, a whole flock of wild turkeys gobbled along a road side while we drove slowly by, admiring their beauty. My housemates talked to the turkeys from the inside of the car, saying things like, “We’re so glad you’re so alive!, ” and “Be free, little ones!” and although I could appreciate these well-wishes, I have to admit my canyon-ized self was also wishing we’d thought to pack a shotgun in the car along with our jars of tahini, and that it hadn’t been so long since my last target practice with Wolf.