Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall Squash Gnocchi with Butter & Walnut Sauce

I should preface this by saying this is not your typical healthy meal. Per se.

It's filled with flour and doused in butter and is carby and probably pretty fattening. But it's comfort food to the max, and for some of us living on the east coast watching the heartbreaking aftermath of Sandy unfold day after day - and for others who may not live here but are bracing against the cold weather setting in - comfort food may just be what we need.

And it's made from scratch, so it's definitely healthier than comfort food from a box or takeout restaurant. Plus I served it with a large green salad with Red Delicious apples (and blue cheese but shh) and simple balsamic vinegar, so at least we ate some veggies alongside.

Making homemade pasta is quickly becoming one of my most favorite things, and gnocchi...those little soft-as-a-pillow dumplings, are no exception. Traditional gnocchi are made with white potatoes, but I was itching to try making them with some of my leftover Hubbard Squash, which I froze a few weeks ago after baking. The result was amazing. They had so much more flavor than regular gnocchi, and a comforting fall essence that was perfect for a cold evening cozied up at home. Bonus - squash has fewer carbs and more vitamins and nutrients than potatoes. A small win! If you don't have Hubbard squash, you can definitely substitute butternut, or even sweet potatoes.

I actually made a batch of this gnocchi last weekend when we had a few dinner/movie guests over, and I tripled the recipe so I could freeze them for another day.

Unfortunately since we lost power for so long, we had to toss them before we could enjoy them again. But they do freeze really well, so if you're going to the trouble (or enjoyment!) of making gnocchi, definitely make extras and throw a batch into the freezer for a quickie dinner another night.


Fall Squash Gnocchi with Butter & Walnut Sauce

Serves 4-6

Ingredients - Gnocchi
2 cups cooked Hubbard or butternut squash
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg
3 cups sifted flour

Ingredients - Butter Sauce
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4-5 sage leaves, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Place squash in food processor and blend until very smooth. If the squash is very watery, transfer to a pan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until water evaporates and squash moist, but not wet. Cool completely, then add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Transfer squash to a standing mixer and add egg, then mix until well combined. Then add flour 1 cup at a time, mixing between each cup (sifting the flour first is helpful, to ensure there are no lumps). Continue adding flour until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn dough onto a heavily floured board and knead until it comes together; it will be sticky, so continue adding flour as necessary.

Remove large pieces of the dough and roll into a 1" thick rope, then cut into bite sized pieces. Place onto a wax paper-lined baking sheet and set aside until ready to cook. (Note: Gnocchi can be cooked immediately at this point. To freeze, put the baking sheets in the freezer for approx. 30 minutes, until set. Once frozen, transfer to a Ziploc freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Cook the frozen gnocchi the same as fresh - do not thaw first).

To cook the gnocchi, drop in small batches into salted, boiling water and cook just until gnocchi float to the top, about 3 minutes. Transfer directly into butter sauce.

To make sauce:

In a large skillet, melt butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add garlic and saute gently until fragrant. Add walnuts, salt and pepper. Stir, then remove from heat.

Toss cooked gnocchi in the butter sauce, then add sage and parmesan cheese. Stir to coat, and serve immediately.

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