This weekend I…
Played golf for the first time – whee!
Well, if you count driving the golf cart and drinking beer (not too many, don’t worry) “playing golf” then yes, I am more than ready to be called up to the next Ryder cup team. Bahaha!
Friday night Ben took me to one of his favorite courses to play a round after work, and I was seriously baffled by what I’d been missing. An outdoor activity where driving miniature electric cars on the grass with a cooler is not only allowed, but encouraged?! Mind = blown. First of many rounds to come.
This weekend I…
Celebrated a few birthdays with the fam! Ben is turning THIRTY next Sunday, and my Mom celebrated her birthday last week, so everybody came together Sunday afternoon to partay.
Aka, fawn over the babies, and eat lots of Pepperidge Farms birthday cake, which my Dad sliced before my Mom and Ben could blow out the candles…bad form! (Hence Ben’s mean mug?! )
We also did a Google hangout with my little brother in Denver, whose birthday was also last week. OMG I CANNOT GET OVER THIS! We used the hangout’s special effects to add pirate hats, snorkels and mustaches to ourselves, then proceeded to laugh for an hour straight. Priceless!
This weekend I…
Ate unethical amounts of homemade Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Garlic Butter & Sage Sauce. YES! Plump, sweet, butternut squash gnocchi are cooked then tossed with melted butter flavored with sizzling garlic and fresh sage, then inhaled. Over, and over, and over.
I picked up a couple beautiful, organic butternut squash at Whole Foods on Saturday, knowing exactly what they’d be used for: a big ol’ batch of both Butternut Squash Ravioli and this homemade gnocchi to stash in the freezer. Not only are these two meals absolutely mouthwatering, but they’re total lifesavers on busy weeknights. Just pull out of the freezer, and cook. No thawing required.
Aside from filling up the freezer, a couple people asked me to profile a few fall and winter squash varieties this season, and I couldn’t think of a squash better than a butternut to start a newbie out with. Butternut squash are easy to find, work with, and roast like a dream. The flesh gets super sweet and becomes velvety-smooth when mashed or processed, which makes it perfect for using in dishes like gnocchi.
Look for butternut squash that are heavy for their size, oblong and elongated (rather than short and fat,) and have smooth, tan skin.
Aside from the squash part, I know gnocchi can also be intimidating. It’s true that the process of making gnocchi takes a few hours, but you can stretch it out over a few days, and the actual act of forming the gnocchi is not difficult. Homemade gnocchi are great for people on a budget – just squash, flour, egg, and salt – and they’re also great for people who cook for one or two. Make a big batch of gnocchi and freeze, then pull out whatever you need, whenever you need it, and cook the same was as you would fresh.
If I haven’t scared you off yet (sheesh!) homemade butternut squash gnocchi with garlic butter & sage sauce is worth ANY amount of elbow grease because it is indescribably delicious, and tastier than any white or sweet potato version I’ve ever had, due to the super sweet flesh of the butternut. You will LOVE these babies!
Start the Butternut Squash Gnocchi by roasting a gawgeous butternut squash. In addition to the taste, I also love BNS (and most other squash varieties, for that matter,) because they are so ridiculously inexpensive. This 3lb-er here made a gazillion gnocchi, and only cost $1.60!
Wash and dry the butternut squash then pierce the “bulbous” end a few times with a sharp knife. Microwave the squash on a plate for 3 minutes, flipping halfway through, to soften it up a bit and make it easier to slice the top and bottom off, then cut it in half lengthwise.
Scoop the seeds out with a spoon then place the squash halves cut side up on a baking sheet. Brush with extra virgin olive oil, season liberally with salt & pepper, then roast at 400 degree for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the thickest part of the squash meets no resistance. You won’t believe how yummy and caramelized these babies get in that super-hot oven. SO YUM.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off then place the flesh into a food processor and process until very smooth. That’s another thing I love about roasting butternut squash – it gets sooooo silky and luscious. I almost can’t handle it.
K, now, the butternut squash puree will be pretty moist and liquidy so, to make sure we don’t have to add a ton of flour to the gnocchi (which would result in a tough gnocchi,) pour the puree into a large saucepan over medium heat and cook out some of the moisture for about 10 minutes. You don’t have to babysit this – just give it a stir every so often, until the puree isn’t so moist. I learned this trick on an episode of America’s Test Kitchen last year. (Heart that nerdy show!)
Once the moisture in the puree has cooked out, spread it onto a large plate and let it cool in the refrigerator.
The puree doesn’t have to be perfectly cold, but the gnocchi will be really tough to roll out if the dough is warm.
When the puree is cool/cold, measure out 2 cups puree (should be just about all of it) place it in a large bowl, and then stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 whisked egg.
Next stir in 2-1/4 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. (You may need more or less flour depending on how moist your squash is.)
Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured surface then knead a few times to bring everything together. It’s ok if the dough is still a little sticky at this point.
Cut a hunk of the dough off then roll into a rope and cut into 1″ pieces.
Typically, in the case of potato gnocchi, you would then roll the pieces over the back of a fork or gnocchi paddle to create the signature grooves on top and sauce-trapping pocket in back, but, I don’t know…I kind of like leaving my non-potato gnocchi a little rustic, shall we say. (Read: I was feeling lazy.)
Continue rolling and cutting the rest of the dough, placing the gnocchi on a foil or waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Now you can either freeze the gnocchi on the baking sheet until frozen solid, then pop them into a freezer bag to cook later, OR you can cook the gnocchi fresh! NOTE: cook frozen gnocchi the same as fresh – ie do not thaw first.
To cook the gnocchi (again, either fresh or frozen) bring a big pot of water to a boil, then lightly salt. Add the gnocchi about 1 cup at a time, then turn the heat down so you have a gentle boil. When the gnocchi float to the top about 2-3 minutes later – they’re done!
Transfer the gnocchi to a skillet of minced garlic and fresh sage that have been sauteed in a little butter. I KNOW.
Toss the gnocchi to coat in the garlic butter & sage sauce, then plate up and get down wit yo’ bad, gnocchi-eating self.
For the gnocchi 3lb butternut squash
For the Garlic Butter & Sage Sauce (for two, 1-cup servings):
Tender, salty, sweet, and decadent, you will adore having a big ol’ bag of these hanging out in your freezer, ready to be cooked in the time it takes to boil water. Obsessed!
Just a little reminder that I will be hosting a little meet up with free nibbles at the Panera on University Ave in West Des Moines, tomorrow from 7-7:45pm. Anyone and everyone is welcome!
What are your favorite squash varieties, and dishes to make with them?