It took me a long time to come around to winter squash this year. I just wasn’t ready. A combination of eating too much squash last year, and not being ready to accept the change in seasons, I suppose. How can it be October already, really?
But the tide has finally turned. A few weeks ago, the butternut squash gnocchi my friends and I made last year came up in conversation, and I was sold. I even suggested making a pumpkin bread with fresh whipped cream on the side for dessert. Double squash. Fall Fiesta was born.
Last week, we showed up early at my friend Sophie’s house. My friend Jen had roasted a b’nut squash from her aptly-titled CSA, Eating with the Seasons, the one I used to belong to and sometimes wish I still did. I mashed the squash with my hands and a fork, while Jen prepared the pumpkin batter. Sophie ran down to the store to get bread, which we ate with some of our favorite cheeses as an appetizer. We rounded things out with a bottle of Viognier from my wine club, and some kale chips. I can’t have a plate without greens! It was fantastic. Winter squash, I’m sorry I doubted you. Eating with the seasons never tasted so good.
Not biscotti! The gnocchi dough, before rolling into ropes
Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter, adapted from Sunset
1 butternut squash
About 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for shaping (likely much less than this, but have this on hand)
3 tablespoons butter (or more!)
Freshly grated Parmesan
Roast butternut squash (can be done a day in advance). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half, and place halves flesh-side up on a baking sheet. Remove seeds and pulp. Make sure you have a good knife, and be careful! Roast for 25-30 minutes or until soft. You can also roast the squash whole if you prefer not to cut it in half first – it will just take longer, up to an hour.
Note: the original recipe calls for microwaving the squash. I prefer the roasted flavor, but if you are pressed for time, you can stab the squash with a fork or knife, as you would a baking potato, and microwave for 10 minutes or until tender. Let cool, then cut in half.
Once cooled, scoop out 2 cups of the cooked squash into a bowl. Save the rest for later, or make a double batch if you’ve got lots of squash. We had a medium-sized b’nut, and easily got 4 cups out of it. Mash it with a combination of a fork and your hands (it’s fun!). Once the squash is completely mashed, add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in flour until a dough forms. Note: we used quite a bit less flour than the recipe called for. We simply added until the texture seemed right to roll out – not too sticky, not too dry. You’ll know it when you’re there.
Knead the dough about 10 times on a floured surface. On the same floured surface, divide the dough into pieces and roll into thick ropes, about 3/4 an inch or so. Cut ropes into 1/2 inch long pieces. Place pieces on a floured baking sheet.
Boil a big pot of salted water. Add gnocchi in batches, until they float to the surface, about 4 minutes. Lift out of water with a slotted spoon and drain.
Meanwhile, make your brown butter. Heat a skillet on medium, and add your butter. Stir as it melts. It will become foamy, and then the foam will subside. Heat until it becomes light brown and smells nutty. Be careful to catch it before burning.
Toss your gnocchi with the brown butter, and top with lots of grated Parmesan. Enjoy!