It’s been a year. I mean, it’s REALLY been a YEAR. All of 2021 sort of went by in a haze, and I am grateful to still be here, cooking, writing, and living. Yes, life has changed so dramatically in countless ways for so many of us… If you want to simply jump to the Winter Squash Gnocchi recipe, I completely understand…Jump to Recipe
If you’re still here, I need to confess something.
I have unplugged myself from social media. Well, mostly. . . . Over the last couple of years, other than eating way too many carbs, I have spent a great deal of my time scrolling through social media, cruising the Internet, trying to “get followers.” Jeez! Just letting minutes and hours go by with no direction just like a feather in the wind.
The powers-that-be say a social media presence and platform are key to a writer’s success. All I want to say is pish tosh. In 2022, I will go back to basics. I’ll blog. And cook. And write about it. For you. And finish my book. That is what my heart is saying, so that’s what I’ll be following… and liking. That means treading very lightly with everything Internet-related and spending more time in the kitchen kneading dough, sauteing onions and garlic, taking food photos, staying warm by the oven, and sharing it with you, my friends.
So, on to winter squash gnocchi!
Do you have a few winter squashes languishing around on your kitchen counter? Yea, me too. So let’s put them to good use and make some gnocchi. For this recipe, we can substitute the squash for potatoes, which are customarily used to make gnocchi. For this batch, I used Honeynut squash, (Bon appetit article here) but any hard squash will do. Simply cut it in half, cover the bottom of a baking dish with about an inch of water, place the squash halves cut-side up in the baking dish and roast for 30 – 40 minutes at 400 F until soft. Then, once they are cool enough to touch, scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl.
The big question… what sauce works best with winter squash gnocchi? Many southern Italian recipes feature ingredients like red pepper flakes, mint, garlic, and olive oil to accompany winter squash recipes. So let’s go with that combo!
Winter Squash Gnocchi
- Optional: gnocchi board
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (100 grams)
- 1 ½ cups roasted squash pulp (250 grams)
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and thinly sliced
- 2 red sweet or bell peppers, roasted (or 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes) See note below
- 1 tbsp. pine nuts
- 7-8 sprigs fresh mint
- Cut squash in half and remove seeds and pulp. Place cut side up in a roasting dish. Add about 1-inch of water to the bottom of the dish and bake at 400° for 25 minutes until a fork can be inserted all the way through. Cool. Scoop flesh from the skin and measure out 1 ½ cups (250 grams) squash flesh. Save any extra for another use.
- On a board, dump the flour, add the salt and create a crater in the center of the flour. Add the squash flesh, 1 tbsp. olive oil. Using your fingertips, begin incorporating the flour into the squash flesh, little by little until uniform. I like to use a bench scraper or spatula to scrape the dough into a ball as I go along. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit of flour as you go. Try to add just enough flour to make the dough manageable but not too dry.
- Once you have a uniform dough, roll it out into a cylinder shape and cut in half. Set one half of the dough aside and cover with a bowl to keep it moist. Roll the dough into a long snake. Feel free to use a very slight dusting of flour as needed to prevent sticking.
- Sprinkle some flour on another large tray or cutting board. This will be used to store the completed gnocchi. Using your bench scraper or knife, cut the snake into 1-inch pieces. Then using a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork, roll each piece off the board to create ridges on the outside and a little pocket on the inside. As the gnocchi roll off the gnocchi board or the fork, let them fall onto the prepared, floured baking sheet or board.
- Repeat with the other half of the gnocchi dough. Have a large pot of salted boiling water ready to go.
Make the sauce
- In a large saucepan, saute the garlic and pine nuts in olive oil until fragrant. Add the roasted peppers and cook on medium for 2 minutes. The gnocchi will take just 3-4 minutes to cook. Right before adding the roasted peppers to the sauce, add the gnocchi to the boiling water. When they rise to the top, after 3-4 minutes, remove them from boiling water and add them directly to the sauce. Stir gently to coat the gnocchi in the sauce and to fry them ever so slightly. At the last minute, add the mint leaves and serve immediately.Enjoy this succulent and deeply satisfying meal. Finish with a crisp fresh salad. Buon appetito!