Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Ever since my beloved Pasta Pomodoro shut down in Mesa, I have been searching for a recipe that replicates the unbelievable flavor of their butternut squash ravioli. It was kinda like a, fall-flavored sugar cookie if you can imagine that! Mmmm. One thing I learned when experimenting with homemade ravioli is that it ain’t easy. The dough, the filling, the assembly, then the boiling and finally the sauce. There was too much to go wrong. I usually ended up with a pot of boiling orange water and floating squares of pasta, a huge mess to clean up and only a few prized ravioli that held together.

So on to gnocchi; it is a dense dumpling type pasta, typically made with only potatoes and flour. I really found it quite enjoyable to make and although mine didn’t come out looking so hot, they tasted delectable. The whole grain sprouted flour takes away from the brilliant orange of the squash leaving you with more of a brownish gnocchi, but that was all made up for in taste.

I consider this pasta super healthy if paired with the right sauce. Many people think that means low fat, but fat is just what this pasta needs. An unhealthy sauce in my book is one that starts with a stick of margarine, fat free “cream”, or a can of Campbell’s Soup. I like a brown butter crispy sage sauce or a really thin white sauce made with real cream and a strong cheese. I wouldn’t recommend marinara for this flavor combination.

butternut squash (3 lbs)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
5 cups sprouted flour

Cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds and roast at 400 degrees for 50 minutes. Let cool and puree in blender or food processor. Spread evenly on two half-sheet pans and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to mixing bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper, add almond extract if desired and mix in the flour with dough hook for 3 minutes. The dough should be very tender and smooth and slightly sticky. Divide into 12 pieces, using extra flour roll each portion of dough into a ½-inch thick snake. Using a dough scraper, cut the snake into ½-inch pieces. Continue rolling and cutting with each piece, as you work, arrange the gnocchi in a single layer on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Let dry for up to 2 hours. Freeze flat and transfer to a container or bag once frozen, keeps in freezer for 3 months.

To cook gnocchi, boil a large pot of water, add gnocchi (frozen is fine). Continue to cook until they float to the surface. in 2 or 3 batches in a large pot of boiling, salted water, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they float to the surface of the water. Toss in a simple sauce and top with parmesan cheese.

This post is part of Real Food WednesdaysWhole Foods for the Holiday's


  1. Oooh... Please share how you would make a brown butter crispy sage sauce. I wouldn't know where to start, but I really want to try it.

  2. ook butter on medium until the foam subsides, add sage leaves. Let them fry and get crispy while the butter browns. A little salt and viola -- simply tasty.

  3. WOW this looks amazing! I can't wait to make it. I love that you can freeze it -- would make an easy last minute dinner.

  4. Do you think the acorn squash we got will do just as well here? And I'm not clear on one thing- after you cook, let cool and puree the squash, are you adding all the ingredients into the blender? And then you spread that on the baking sheets to cool to room temp? Just is so like me to somehow think I know what's going on and I don't :)

  5. The only problem I foresee with acorn squash is that it would be wetter. It is also not as sweet or flavorful, but if you make up for that with the sauce, I think it should work fine. You will want to roast it cut side up to encourage as much moisture to evaporate as possible. You might even put the pureed squash back in the oven to dry further.

    After drying out on the sheet pan, you transfer the pureed squash to a mixing bowl to mix in the others ingredients and knead it all together. Some blenders/food processors work for this.

    There is a learning curve for sure. The second time I made this it took me half the time as the first and the kids "helped" me, so that is saying a lot.


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