And yes, it's also another pasta recipe. And yes, I did make it by hand. But hear me out- you don't have to make the pasta if you don't want to. By the way, it's totally worth the effort, even if all you do is pan fry them in butter and not even make the sauce. I could have snacked on those buttery little dumplings all night long. But I digress... If you don't have the time, energy, or inclination to make gnocchi by hand take a look down by the recipe directions. I am also giving you instructions on how to switch up the ingredients and, using store-bought gnocchi, make a delicious dinner with less fuss then the handmade version but the same wonderful flavors.
|I just love how an acorn squash looks like a heart. Don't you?|
Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sausage and Kale
Makes 4-6 servings
Here's where I tell you that you can get the same flavors in the dish with a bit less work if you aren't into making the gnocchi yourself. You can buy packaged gnocchi in your grocery store (sometimes it's in the pasta section, sometimes in the specialty foods area) and you can even get pre-cut butternut squash. I would probably cut those squash cubes into halves or even quarters of what they are already cut into. Those big cubes just won't cook in the amount of time you will have. Cook the gnocchi according to package directions or pan fry in butter like I do the gnocchi in this recipe. Cook the squash in the sauce after you add the chicken broth and simmer for 8-10 extra minutes to soften the squash before adding the kale. Follow the rest of the directions for the sauce.
For the gnocchi:
1 butternut squash (about three pounds)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg ( I use nutmeg in any recipe with squash and/or leafy greens)
3-4 cups flour (depends on the water content of your squash)
Cut the squash in half lengthwise (be careful, the squash is very hard and can be tricky to cut). Drizzle the cut sides with olive oil and place face down on a baking sheet. I had a small acorn squash languishing on the counter, so I threw that in too. Roast in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The flesh should be very soft. Let the squash cool.
When the flesh is cool, scoop it out into a large bowl and mash it with a fork. Add the eggs, nutmeg and salt and stir to fully incorporate. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix. Continue adding the flour, in half cup increments, until you have a soft, sticky dough that holds together. My squash must have had a lot of water because I seemed o have to keep adding flour. I ended up at about 4 cups total. I also found that at the end, dumping the dough onto the counter and kneading in the last of the flour by hand was helpful. I generously sprinkled the counter top with flour.
Using a knife or bench scraper dipped in flour, cut off a piece of dough and roll it into a 1 inch diameter "snake". Cut the "snake" into 1 inch pieces. Sprinkle the cut pieces with flour to keep them from sticking. You can press the traditional lines into the gnocchi by gently pressing the tines of a floured fork into the dough. I demonstrate this technique in the photo below. Continue cutting, rolling and shaping the ghocchi until you have used all the dough. You can use the gnocchi right away or put on a floured sheet tray covered loosely with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them.
I chose to pan fry my gnocchi, which I did in a large saute pan with melted butter. Lay enough gnocchi in the pan to cover the bottom and let cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Flip the gnocchi and cook until browned on the other side, another few minutes. This will probably have to be done in batches unless you have a HUGE pan. Add a tablespoon or so of butter to the pan before each batch. Reserve in a bowl to add to the sauce. Alternately, you could cook the gnocchi for 4-5 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water as you are preparing the sauce.
|The pan-fried gnocchi. Great for snacking on all on their own.|
For the sauce:
1/2 lb Italian sausage, removed from the casings
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 small bunch of tuscan kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup pecorino romano or parmesean cheese
In a large saute pan, cook the sausage in 1 tbs olive oil until browned. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir for about 1 minute. Pour in the chicken broth, making sure to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan (that's all flavor hidden in there). Toss in the kale and stir. Simmer the sauce for 4-5 minutes or until the kale has wilted. Add the cooked gnocchi to the pan and stir all the ingredients together. Stir in the cheese and serve.