Friday, October 5, 2012

Butternut Squash Gnocchi Recipe

October is my salute to squash! Salute to seasonal vegetables in general! Possibly November as well, that's how excited I am about this salute!

Oh So Delicious Butternut Squash Gnocchi!

I love everything about Autumn, with frosty nights and nippy mornings and root vegetables all around. I find myself inspired by squash, and parsnips, and sweet potatoes, and possibly even pumpkin (though I haven't given pumpkin much of a chance in the past).

First on the roster: Butternut Squash Gnocchi.

My mother makes the most delicious butternut squash gnocchi, in a brown butter sage sauce, served usually as a primi piatto to a delicious turkey dinner - which means we had to wait all year to have these gnocchi. Not anymore mom! Today I learn to make gnocchi!

One thing that excites me about this gnocchi is that it's a totally vegetarian dish. It could even be vegan too, if you swapped out the butter for some extra virgin olive oil in the last step.

Take one butternut squash.

For starters, find a sexy butternut squash. Perfect specimens should weigh about 2lbs, and be nice and firm. Don't mind the jealous stares of the people at the grocery store - they probably know you are on your way home to create delicious things with that fabulous vegetable.

Butternut Squash Recipe


One Butternut Squash
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for cooking
2 1/2 cups flour, plus lots of extra
Fresh Sage, finely chopped
Garlic Powder
Grated Parmesan (optional)

Take the butternut squash and chop it in half. I wish S was around for this part, because these squash are extremely firm and fairly tough to cut through. Scoop out the seeds and fibers and discard. Coat that gorgeous orange vegetable lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake face down on a baking sheet, in a 375F oven, for one hour. Squash should be knife-tender when you remove it.

Let cool slightly, then scoop out the innards into a bowl, leaving behind the tough outer skin. Mash with a potato masher (or some forks) until no lumps remain. 

Let squash cool for another 20 minutes or so, until room temperature (or nearly). Drizzle 1/4 cup of olive oil into squash, with approximately 1/4 tsp ground pepper, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp sage, 1/2 tsp oregano, and a dash of garlic powder. Adjust spices to suit your particular tastes - I certainly tasted the mixture a few times as I was stirring!

Slowly add flour, mixing constantly until you achieve a soft dough ball. The consistency should be much like Play Dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel for at least 45 minutes to let the gluten in the flour become nice and sticky.

When my dough's time was up, I found the mixture had become insanely sticky again. To counter this, I poured a small mountain of flour on the cutting board so I could work it into the dough as needed. Roll small pieces of the dough into skinny sausages, approximately 3/4 inch in diameter. Notice how the beautiful orange colour goes away because of all that flour? Not to worry - it comes back in the cooking process. Chop the gnocchi into small bite-size pieces. For added gorgeousness, roll the tines of a fork over each individual gnocchi. I didn't do that step - I had much better things to do than spend all evening rolling hundreds of gnocchi over a fork just so they are a bit prettier.


I taste tested the first dozen gnocchi I cut to see if the consistency was right. To do this, drop the gnocchi carefully into a pot of boiling water. Stir gently. Cook for several minutes, until they float to the surface. 

To store the gnocchi I wasn't going to eat immediately (anything you aren't going to eat that day) I spaced them evenly on a cookie sheet that was well dusted with flour, and I froze them all. It made servings enough for 8-10 people (depending on their level of hungry).

Cooking the gnocchi right away? Yum, I approve. 

Prepare a pot of lightly salted boiling water. Drop gnocchi individually into pot, stir gently to make sure none are stuck to the bottom. Cook for several minutes or until gnocchi float to the surface. Melt some butter in a pan, add some chopped fresh sage, oregano, pepper and garlic (or any combination that suits you). Remove floating gnocchi from water with a slotted spoon, deposit into pan. Stir to coat with butter. I like to cook them for several minutes in the pan, or until just firm on the outside. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve hot. 

Your lucky guests will beg for this recipe. It is great on it's own, or as a starter to a wonderful meal. Unfortunately it was midnight when I finished, so I didn't really bother making side dishes.


Delicious butternut squash gnocchi.

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