Jan 6, 2010

butternut squash gnocchi

For some reason I'm drawn to making gnocchi. It can be so tasty and wonderful that every time I see a recipe I'm sure to either tear it out or mark it for future use. Last month I made this butternut squash version a couple times. The first time it was good, but I had enough squash left over to try it again, and really wanted to try a broccoli rabe walnut pesto I found in the January issue of Food & Wine. In the magazine this pesto was paired with linguine, but I thought it would made the perfect addition to my gnocchi. And I was right, it turned out beautifully.

My mom passed along this recipe a while back and I happened to find it again last month while looking for a family Christmas cookie recipe. She changed it slightly, making notes in the margins, and then I changed it a bit more, making it my own. What's great about gnocchi is that it looks / sounds harder to make than I think it really is. The most important thing is time. You have to have a little time to let the dough set, so unfortunately you can't see this recipe and whip it up in an hour or less. But believe me, its worth the wait.

I like this version, and found that it came together really nicely. One thing I thought of the second time I made it was to use one of those small quick release cookie scoopers to scoop out the dough. This little tool worked great, however, two spoons will also work.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Adapted from Ciao Italia

1 pound butternut squash, cut into quarters and seeded (1 large or 2 small)*
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)**
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the quartered squash in a casserole dish large enough to hold in a single layer. Pour in 1/2 cup of water and cover the dish with a piece of foil. Bake the squash until a knife is easily inserted, and the middle is soft. This takes about 45 minutes.

Let the squash cool until it is easy to handle. Scoop the squash into a bowl and discard the skins. Mash the squash with a fork to smooth it out. 1 and a half cups of mashed squash are needed for one recipe. Stir in the flour, egg yolks, salt, and cinnamon. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it at least 2 hours or overnight. Letting the dough rest in the refrigerator makes it easier to handle when forming the gnocchi.

Butter a casserole dish and set it aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

To form the gnocchi, use a small cookie scooper (or two spoons) to scoop some of the batter and drop it into the boiling water. Do not crowd the pot. Make six to eight at a time. When they bob to the surface of the water, take them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the casserole dish. Keep them warm and covered until all the batter is used.

Melt the butter in a small pan and pour it over the top of the gnocchi. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake the gnocchi for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until heated through. Serve as a first course, or with pesto as I have done in the pictures above for a main-course.

Alison's Notes
*A note from my mom was that 1 can of pureed pumpkin could also be used in place of the squash, however a little more flour is needed if this substitution is made.
**I think the cinnamon is optional as it definitely adds a little sweetness to the gnocchi, so if you want to minimize this flavor I would take it out.

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