Saturday, 23 October 2010

Squash Gnocchi

These were such fun to make; kind of like playing with plasticene. A lot more tasty, though!

You can use a different flour, but I recommend the kamut flour because it resembles durum semolina, which is the flour usually used for pasta-making (and the best other flour to use).

Too much flour makes gnocchi tough and gummy, so you don't want to put in much more than I've called for. That means your squash must not be too moist, or you won't form a good dough without more flour. Keep your squash on the dry side by selecting a good variety to start with; butternut, buttercup or other dense-fleshed orange squash. Do not cook it by boiling or steamng, but bake it until tender and let it cool while it is spread out, to allow as much steam to escape from it as possible. I think it is best to cut the squash into pieces and remove the seeds, rub it with a little oil, and bake it at 350°F, probably for an hour or a bit more depending on the size of the pieces.

6 servings
40 minutes - 30 minutes prep time, not including cooking the squash

Squash Gnocchi with Broccoli, Bacon and Dried Tomato
2 cups cooked, cooled, mashed squash
1 cup kamut flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
a little freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 cup kamut flour

Mash the squash thoroughly, or put it through a ricer. When it is well mashed, add the first quantity of flour, with the salt and a little grating of nutmeg - just a little. Mix well. I find this easiest to do by hand, and at any rate as soon as it is mostly mixed you should turn it out on a clean board and knead it for a few minutes, until the dough is smooth. Use the extra flour to flour the board and keep it from sticking. If it is still very sticky, you may use a bit more, but try to use as little as you can.

When the dough is smooth, divide it into 4 equal portions. Roll each one out into a long, skinny log, about half an inch in diameter. If it gets too long you can break it into shorter pieces and work with those. Use a fork to cut off about an inch of your log of dough, then press it into a disk with the fork. From the base of the tines, press the dough off the fork; it will sort of roll up a little and thus you will have the classic groved, rounded log shape for your gnocchi.

As you finish each gnoccho put it on a clean, dry teatowel. Let them rest for half an hour before cooking them. They can also be stored overnight in the fridge (wrapped up) or frozen, and thawed before cooking.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and boil them until they float; 3 to 5 minutes. Boil for 1 minute more, then drain and serve them dressed as you like.

I served mine with broccoli and onion sautéed with bacon, and chopped dried tomatoes dropped in to boil with the gnocchi. Garlic or sage butter with grated Parmesan is pretty classic, or there's nothing wrong with a nice light tomato sauce. Hmm, how about blue cheese & walnuts?

Last year at this time I made Simple Celery Soup.


Emily said...

Sounds good. We have a recipe for Beet Gnocchi, where we roast the beets and then add egg and flour to make the dough. We'll have to try it with squash instead.

Joanne said...

I love everything about squash and have been meaning to make it into gnocchi. Thanks for the great recipe!

M@ said...

I'll suggest a time-saving tip -- which is from my family's time-honoured method of making gnocchi.

When you have your dough rolled out into a long snake, cut it into the same-sized pieces as in your recipe. But instead of rolling them on the fork, press an indentation into each dumpling with your fingertip.

The finished product looks like a little square pillow with a depression in the middle (which picks up the sauce if you're serving it with a sauce). Equally attractive (in my view) and much, much easier and faster to do.

Another note -- I always add an egg to my gnocchi dough. If you don't, it might be fine -- or they might disintegrate on you when they hit the water.

Ferdzy said...

Thanks M@, although I found the fork thing pretty quick once I got going.

I gathered in my research that eggs are sometimes used, although the non-egg version is more traditional. I didn't have any problem with disintegration at all. It might depend on what flour you use though - if you are not using the traditional durum, or kamut semolina (flour) you may be more likely to have that problem.

M@ said...

Well, I'll tell you, my Italian grandmother never used eggs, and sometimes they worked, and sometimes she ended up with a big pot of potato soup and no gnocchi. (On those nights she quickly switched to pasta.) Add the egg and they'll never fail.

The fork thing is a matter of preference, to be sure (one family I know just serves the snakes cut into 1-1.5" sections -- little cylinders). I didn't know gnocchi were made by rolling them on the back of a fork for a long time -- I'd never seen them, growing up. It's up to the cook, to be sure.

Ferdzy said...

Ah, well M@, I would never argue with an Italian grandmother - at least not about gnocchi!