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Scrumptious Squash Gnocchi
updated: Jan 01, 2011, 8:30 AM
By Leah Etling
My Christmas was filled with delicious food this year, and I hope yours was too.
If you read last week's column
you know we were headed for culinary experimentation over Christmas dinner. Despite some hurdles, a delicious butternut squash gnocchi was part of our holiday table. It was excellent and a huge improvement over my previous pumpkin attempt.
But before I get to that, I have to rave for a minute over the amazing Swedish Farmer omelet that my mom put together for Christmas breakfast. Served with pastry, medistepolse and egg-braid bread from Solvang, it was a perfect Scandinavian start to a holiday morning. I'll share that recipe next week.
Now, on to the gnocchi. This is a recipe from Fine Cooking, which makes a very light squash-flavored pasta. It's so light that they don't recommend rolling or cutting it … their suggestion is to use a pastry bag to essentially squirt the gnocchi into the boiling water. We adapted the recipe by adding extra flour, and dropped it by the teaspoonful into the water instead. This was successful.
Christmas Day, we lost power for 24 hours beginning in the morning, so our kitchen plans had to be modified accordingly. We drove over to a relatives' house to bake the squash in her oven in preparation for making the gnocchi dough. Our oven is electric, but the stove is gas-powered, so we were able to make the remainder of the meal by candlelight. The only necessary modification was to keep the gnocchi out of the oven after boiling them and heat them in a saucepan with the sage-brown butter sauce just before we were ready to eat.
I apologize that there are no photos with this week's column. Lack of light made this impossible.
1-1/2 lb. butternut squash
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (we added an additional cup of flour to get the dough thick enough)
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
5 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. chopped sage
1/4 cup shredded smoked mozzarella
Heat the oven to 425°F.
Cut the squash in half and rub with olive oil. Place on a sheet pan with 1/2 cup of water, and roast in the oven until completely tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
In a large bowl, mash the squash with a fork and then mix in the egg, flour, nutmeg, salt, and Parmigiano-Reggiano to form a loose dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. (This can speed up your process if you're cooking for a crowd and need to do things ahead of time.)
Bring salted water to a boil.
Original recipe: Spoon the dough into a pastry bag and pipe the gnocchi into the water, using a butter knife to cut the dough into individual 1/2-inch dumplings.
Adaptation: Skip the pastry bag and spoon directly into the boiling water.
Cook about 20 gnocchi at a time until they rise to the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the cooked gnocchi into a bowl. Continue until all the gnocchi are cooked. Pat gnocchi dry with a kitchen towel.
Melt the butter in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the sage leaves and the gnocchi to the pan and cook until the gnocchi are warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour out into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.
I can't say enough about the great flavor the smoked mozzarella added to this dish. Compared to last week, this squash gnocchi recipe was restaurant quality and I will definitely make it again!
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