Last Sunday night, we were adventurous and made Acorn Squash Gnocchi, from the Girl in the Little Red Kitchen blog (www.girlinthelittleredkitchen.com). Tony describes how he did it.
First off, I have to be honest – this recipe took a very long time and was pretty labor intensive. I was prepared for that and planned around it, but start to finish (including roasting the veggies) this recipe took close to three hours. Part of that, of course, is that it was my first time making it, but I doubt I can cut much time off in the future. That said, it was totally worth the effort.
The first step, as I mentioned above, is to roast the squash and potatoes. The squash was done first, after about 45 minutes; the potatoes took 15 minutes more. This worked out well, because the 15 minutes was enough time for the squash to cool enough for me to handle. The recipe suggests running the squash through a ricer, but since we don’t have one and don’t have room for one, I followed the recipe’s Plan B and just scooped the squash into a bowl. As for the potatoes, I peeled them once they were cooled. I wasn’t sure I was doing this right, as I felt I was taking off a lot of potato (the drier, almost crispy part right under the skin) as I peeled. When I grated the potatoes using a box grater, I realized that the peeling sort of took care of itself: you can’t grate that dried layer easily, so whether you peel if off or not, it’s not making it into the gnocchi.
With the squash and potato in the bowl, I added the remaining ingredients: 1 cup of flour, 1 beaten egg, and 1 teaspoon of salt. I mixed everything together with a spoon and then started to knead the mixture. I quickly learned that it was still very, very wet and hard to work with. I added almost another cup of flour, bit by bit, until the dough was easier to handle. I rolled the dough out on a cutting board dusted with lots of flour, which I replaced as needed, into ropes about 1 1/2 inches thick and a little over foot long. I cut the ropes into pieces about one inch long, which I transferred to a large cookie sheet dusted with flour.
I had put a pot of salted water on to boil when I started cutting the gnocchi and it was ready to go when the gnocchi were prepared. I started putting the gnocchi into the boiling water a few at a time. I probably overloaded the pot with gnocchi (I added about a quarter of the total), but they cooked fine, floating up to the top after 3 minutes or so. I transferred the cooked gnocchi to a large bowl and added more until I had cooked half of them.
I next melted two tablespoons of butter in a large, non-stick frying pan and browned the gnocchi. The pan got pretty crowded, but I was determined to cook everything in two batches. After about 10 minutes over medium heat, the gnocchi had browned on both sides. I transferred half of what was in the pan to each of two plastic storage containers and sprinkled on some salt, pepper, sage, and lots of parmesan. (This was the lunch batch!) I repeated the entire process of boiling and browning with the remaining gnocchi and we sat down the dinner.
The gnocchi had cooked pretty much perfectly. While the squash gave them a consistency and flavor I wasn’t quite used to, they were both light and tasty. The browned sides gave them a little chewiness (the weren’t quite crunchy) and the butter sage sauce was a perfect complement. This recipe inspired me to make more tradition gnocchi next time – or at least to try to talk my Very Italian Mother into making them for us!