Butternut Squash Gnocchi
These free-form squash gnocchi couldn't be easier to make or more colorful. Ricotta salata, a grateable sheep's milk cheese, is terrific on top. Look for it in the specialty cheese section of well-stocked supermarkets. A popular alternative is to add finely chopped spinach to the dough. This recipe makes about 40 gnocchi.
- 2 lb. butternut squash, split lengthwise and seeded (2 cups cooked purée)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp. salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 to 2 ¾ cups flour, as needed
- 5 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
- 12 fresh sage leaves, torn
- ½ cup grated ricotta salata
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Place the squash cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, or until very tender, and set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°F.
3. When the squash is cool enough to handle, using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into a sieve over a bowl, discarding the skin. If time permits, let it drain for a few hours in the refrigerator.
4. Push the squash flesh through the sieve into a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and stir until well combined. Stir in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is soft and moist, but not too sticky. Adjust the amount of flour as necessary to keep the dough from becoming too sticky to handle easily.
5. To make the sauce, melt the butter with the olive oil and garlic clove in a small saucepan over lowest heat. Add the torn sage leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Keep the mixture warm; don’t let it scorch. Stir it when the leaves settle to the bottom.
6. To make the gnocchi, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium. Place a platter in the warm oven.
7. Using 2 teaspoons, scoop up a walnut-sized ball of dough with 1 teaspoon, and gently scrape it into the simmering water with the other. Continue dropping in the batter until you have 8 or so in the pot.
8. When the gnocchi rise to the surface, set the timer for 4 minutes, and continue cooking the gnocchi. At the end of 4 minutes, or when the gnocchi feel firm throughout, remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon, and place them on the warm platter in the oven. Drizzle them lightly with sage butter.
9. Continue making gnocchi in batches, drizzling each addition to the platter with sage butter. Toss gently before serving, and sprinkle with grated ricotta salata and a few grindings of pepper. Serve immediately.