Handmade Roasted Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Remember the roasted butternut squash last week, for the Cappellacci di Zucca?  Well, I had some puree left, and I found a recipe for gnocchi in La Cucina di Lidia, so I decided to make some tonight.  Note: I used the plain pureed squash, without the walnuts and corn butter that I had added to the filling for cappellacci.  Making gnocchi is pretty easy, and it’s fun, especially if you happen to be in possession of a gnocchi board (cool, but not necessary at all).  The technique is perfectly explained on this website, which includes a superb video clip.

I had about 2.5 – 3 cups of puree, to which I added one egg, and some bread flour (all-purpose flour is fine, but I read somewhere that high protein flour is a bit better for this, so I used what I had).  I can’t tell you how much flour to use; you will need to gauge that by feel.  It was probably 2 cups, but I am not at all sure of that.  The keys to tender gnocchi are:

  • do not add too much flour…it should be slightly sticky but not so much that is sticks to the board
  • do not overmix…add flour a bit at a time, and mix GENTLY by hand or with a fork
  • cut off pieces of dough and roll into logs about 1/2-inch in diameter
  • dust with flour, cut pieces 1/2 to 3/4-inch long
  • roll each piece on the ridged board, as shown in the video
  • poach in salted, boiling water about 3-4 minutes, until they float
  • don’t add too many to the pot at once

Many sauce alternatives are available.  My choice for tonight was a riff on the classical butter-and-sage-leaf sauce.  First, I picked a bunch of fresh sage leaves from my plant outside.  Then I fried the leaves in about 1/3 cup of olive oil (still vegan this weekend), and removed them to a plate when crisp.  I chopped 1/4 cup of organic walnuts and warmed them in the oil on low flame.  As the gnocchi rose to the top of the pot, I scooped them out with a wire strainer and dropped them in the sauce.  Added a little of the pasta water to the sauce (less than 1/4 cup) and boiled it down a bit.  Serve in a pasta bowl:

For the wine, once more I turned to Jan D’Amore.  An unusual wine — 2011 Alter Ego from Occhipinti in Lazio — 100% Aleatico (a red grape) vinified as a white wine.

I’ll tell you about the second course: Chinese stir-fry — with porcini-crusted tofu, Yu Choy, eggplant, mushrooms, and ginger-scallion sauce — another time.

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