Fare With a Flair: Squash-based gnocchi makes delicious winter meal

Gnocchi is another one of those Italian comfort foods.

Squash gnocchi at Jill's Table in London. (Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press)

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Gnocchi is another one of those Italian comfort foods.

It’s basically a dumpling. While potatoes and flour form the most simple version, you can add many other ingredients – such as in the recipe for squash gnocchi.

The nice thing about this recipe is you can make the gnocchi a half-day ahead and that makes last-minute preparation easier.

Just before serving, the par-boiled gnocchi are cooked in a pan of browned butter and sage.

A final touch of Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts make for a delicious winter meal.


Squash Gnocchi

(Serves 6)

1 cup pureed cooked squash*

2 cups cooked russet potato that have been put through a ricer

½ cup (125 ml) grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

½ tsp. (2.5 ml) nutmeg

1 tsp. (5 ml) salt

1¾ cup (425 ml) all-purpose flour

½ c. (125 ml) unsalted butter

4 tbsp. (50 ml) chopped sage

½ cup (125 ml) additional Parmesan

½ cup (125 ml) toasted pine nuts

*I prefer to use a dense squash such as butternut. Sweet potato can also be used.

1. Combine the squash, potato, cheese, egg, nutmeg and salt in large bowl.

2. Gradually add the flour, kneading gently. If the dough is sticky, add more flour a spoonful at a time.

3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently just until smooth. Divide dough into eight equal pieces.

4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Sprinkle parchment lightly with some flour.

5. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll dough out on a floured surface to about ½-inch-thick rope. Cut the rope into ¾-inch pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll gnocchi on a gnocchi board or use the back of fork tines dipped in flour to make ridges on one side. Transfer gnocchi to baking sheets. Repeat with all the dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill.

5. Working in two batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10-12 minutes. (When the gnocchi float to the surface, add one more minute of cooking time). Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi back to the parchment-lined baking sheets. Cool. Cover loosely and chill. (This can be done half a day ahead).

6. When ready to serve. Remove the gnocchi from the fridge.

7. Heat the butter in a large sauté pan or wok. Cook until starting to turn a light golden color.  Add the sage and cook for two more minutes.

8. Add the gnocchi and cook until slightly golden.

9. Season with pepper and salt if needed. Add half of Parmesan and toss well.

10. Transfer to a warmed shallow pasta bowl or platter and scatter with pine nuts and remaining Parmesan.

11. Serve immediately.

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