Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Butternut Squash Gnocci

Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall flavors. I especially love butternut squash ravioli or gnocci because it feels so warm and cozy when you eat it. Served with a simple brown butter sauce and some sage, it's just so delicious. I decided to make this butternut squash gnocci with the squash I had left over after making this butternut squash tart. The tart was super simple. The gnocci not so much. It's a rather involved process, I have to say. The result was fantastic! But honestly, if you're not up for the process, there are some yummy butternut squash pastas out there that you can find at your local markets this time of year. You can prepare those and use the brown butter sauce and sage from this recipe and cut your prep time in half.

Butternut Squash Gnocci with Brown Butter and Sage
1 head of garlic, top third cut off
Extra-virgin olive oil, for rubbing
1 pound baking potatoes
One 2-pound butternut squash—peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
salt & pepper
1 1/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 stick butter
10 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings, for serving
Cooked Italian sausage for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375ยบ. Place racks in the lower and middle thirds of the oven. Drizzle the garlic with olive oil, wrap it tightly in foil and roast on the bottom rack of the oven for 50 minutes. Lightly rub the potatoes with olive oil, prick them all over with a fork and bake on the lower rack for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until fork-tender. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Add the squash and rub with olive oil. Bake on the upper rack for about 30 minutes, stirring once, until soft.

Squeeze 3 or 4 of the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins into a food processor. Peel the hot potatoes and puree them with the garlic in a food processor. Transfer the potatoes and garlic to a large bowl. Add the hot squash to the food processor to puree, then add to the bowl with the potatoes. Let cool slightly. Add the egg yolks, ricotta, parsley, and 1 tablespoon of salt & teaspoon of pepper (or more to taste). Stir until combined. Sprinkle on the 1 1/4 cups of flour and gently stir it in. Scrape the dough onto a heavily floured surface and knead gently until smooth but still slightly sticky.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper and dust with flour. Cut the gnocchi dough into 5 pieces and roll each piece into a 3/4-inch-thick rope. Make sure you have your surface well-coated in flour or you'll have a sticky mess. Be gentle when rolling the dough into the rope.

Cut the ropes into 1/2-inch pieces and transfer the gnocchi to the baking sheet.

If you don't want to cook all of the gnocci right away, you can freeze it for a month. Just freeze the pieces on the baking sheet. When frozen, transfer them to a large ziplock bag. When you're ready to eat them, just cook the frozen gnocci as directed below.

Lightly oil another baking sheet or large plate. In a large, deep skillet of simmering salted water, cook half of the gnocchi until they rise to the surface, then simmer them for 1 to 2 minutes longer, until cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi.
If using Italian sausage, cook the sausage in a skillet with some olive oil, or reheat if previously cooked. In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the sage and thyme and cook for 20 seconds. Toss in the warm sausage (if using). Add the gnocchi and cook for 1 minute, tossing gently. Season with salt and serve, passing the cheese shavings at the table.

recipe from Andrew Zimmern on

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