Pumpkin & Sage Knife Noodles

I grew up eating a version of these noodles that my Hungarian grandmother called "nuculee noodles". They appear in no cookbooks I own and even the Google comes up with nothing but a blank stare when queried. My Nana seasoned hers with poached beef liver and served them in a clear broth soup with big chunks of veggies, parsley and a marrow bone. Notice I said seasoned with beef liver. Try using stronger flavored ingredients as a small player, a little bleu cheese blended into your balsamic vinaigrette. No need to hammer home every note.

Once the noodles are made you have many options. Chicken paprikash poured over the top is classic. Floating in a soup, sauteed in brown butter with herbs or baked with a cheesy sauce are all good. In the photo I used a wilted onion, garlic and spinach steamed in a little veggie broth. I added the noodles, warmed them in the oven and grated fresh nutmeg over the top. Top it with a mustard crusted pork loin, a little cranberry pan sauce and we'll call it a meal.

Let's see what I did. Feeds four as a side. Pretty cheap to make, under $1.50. I used canned pumpkin and froze the leftovers in 1/2 cup measurements. You could use a leftover baked sweet potato with similiar results. It's not the overwhelming pumpkin flavor I'm going for. It's the way the vegetable lightens up the dough. Reminds me of a lazy mans' gnocchi. By lazy I mean smarter because this way is easier.

  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk or water, choose milk when possible
  • 6 nice big sage leaves, small dice
  • 1 shallot very fine dice, sweat until soft
  • salt, white pepper and a touch of cayenne. If you do not season these well you will be disappointed

In a bowl mix the flour, sage, salt, pepper and cayenne. Make a well in the middle.

In a bowl mix all the wet ingredients including the shallot. Pour into the well and incorporate the dry into the wet using a fork. This is the same technique you use for spatzle. Once it's all mixed cover and let rest.

Bring a 4qt pot of salted water to boil. Fill a steel bowl with cold water to put the cooked noodles in.

Put your noodles on a cutting board close to the edge. Using a knife cut pinky finger sized noodles with your knife and drop into the gently boiling water. Repeat until you used about a quarter of the dough. Stir and let cook until they all float. Takes about 2 minutes after all the noodles are in. You can check for doneness by cutting one in half if you need to. If undercooked you will see a doughy center. Once they are all cooked lift from the water and drop into the bowl of cold water.

Repeat until all the dough is gone. That's it. I suggest you try it with the spinach I described above. A tart counter point on the plate (cranberry pan sauce and tang of the mustard on the pork) will keep the savory muted flavors in balance.

Cook like you mean it, think happy thoughts, G