WINTER SQUASH GNOCCHI
Venezia: Food and Dreams
by Tessa Kiros
Gnocchi di zucca
I leamt to make these from my friend Julia. This gnocchi dish is made without potato & is wonderfully soft & sweet. You will not be able to roll out the pureed vegetable as you would with potato gnocchi; instead use two spoons to form quenelles. The amount of flour is very approximate here and will depend entirely on how much liquid your winter squash contains. The quality of the squash is really important so choose a sweet, bright orange one. When cooking, you need to cook & dry out your winter squash well at the beginning without crisping it too much.
• 2½ pounds winter squash
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• about 1/2 teaspoon salt
• about 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
• oil, for dipping
• 1 stick butter
• 2 or 3 sage sprigs
• a good grating of nutmeg, to serve
• lots of grated Parmesan, to serve
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Peel the winter squash & remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into large slices. Roast the squash on the sheet for about 30 minutes until tender, but not too browned (or they will be difficult to puree). Transfer to a plate & allow to cool a little.
Puree all the slightly warm squash as smoothly as possible, so it is evenly colored & there are no chunks in the finished gnocchi. Scrape into a bowl, add the egg & salt, & mix well. Add the flour, mixing it in well (try to put in as little as possible), until you have a mixture that holds its shape on a spoon.
Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Pour some olive oil into a cup. If you are not going to be serving your gnocchi at once, have a slightly oiled or buttered sheet ready so that they won't all stick together while they wait.
Put the butter & sage in a small skillet & heat until the butter turns golden & the sage becomes crisp, but be careful not to let it burn.
When the water is boiling, lightly dip 2 teaspoons in the oil, then form quenelles by passing the squash back & forth between the spoons. Gently lower the gnocchi into the water, then lift out with a slotted spoon when they bob up to the top. Put them in the heated butter or on your oiled sheet.
Sauté the gnocchi in the hot butter for a minute or so. Spoon onto plates, drizzling the butter over & around. Serve immediately with nutmeg, Parmesan, & black pepper.