Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gnocchi heaven

Little dumplings waiting for their boiling bath!

Cooked and now frying up nicely in some rosemary grapeseed oil. Heavenly smell!

With some chopped chives and parmesan sprinkled on top! Heavenly taste...
I am a big gnocchi fan. Any type, cooked most any way! But the big taste determiner for me is whether they're homemade (or in a restaurant, house-made) or not. "Not" usually means heavy and floury. Made from scratch means lighter, softer, melt-in-your-mouthier. Yum.
So I discovered this recipe for ricotta gnocchi, and another one, and then finally this one (from Martha Stewart, no less) that incorporated butternut squash into the recipe as well. That's always a bonus with me. But none of the recipes were going to work completely on their own to meet my tastes, so I combined a little of one with a little of another, and the most enjoyable lunch was born. And the sweetest thing of all was how easy it was--this wasn't any all-day pasta-making marathon, by any means.
I went with low-fat ricotta and it behaved quite nicely in place of the whole milk variety. If I had more butternut squash on hand, I'd probably have added a bit more of that as well. It was a little mild on the squash flavor, and color-wise was paler than I'd have liked, too. I knew when I added the whole wheat flour that the color would muddy up a bit, but it was worth it to try the less-processed flour, and I am partial to the nuttier flavor of whole wheat, too. All in all, a quite healthy version of gnocchi!
Ricotta and Butternut Squash Gnocchi
(serves 4-6 depending on portion size...)
1 (16-ounce) container of low-fat ricotta
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed roasted butternut squash
1/2 teaspoon salt/
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour + extra for your hands and cutting board

In the bowl of a food processor, mix the ricotta, egg and butternut squash until well combined. Scrape contents into a large bowl and mix in the flour and salt until all ingredients are incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Check the dough by pinching a bit. It should be a bit tacky. If it clings to your fingers too much, incorporate more flour one tablespoon at a time until you reach a workable consistency. Before shaping, put a large pot of water on the stove to bring to a boil. Sprinkle a baking sheet with flour and set it close to your work space.

Sprinkle your hands and work surface with a little flour. Break off a small orange-sized piece of the dough and roll it into a thick log about 3/4-inch thick.

Cut the log into 3/4" pieces. You can shape them if you want to look more traditional--I left them as natural little pillows...

Transfer this batch to the baking sheet and toss with flour to prevent sticking. Repeat rolling process with the remaining dough.

Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water and a third of the gnocchi. Gently stir the gnocchi to make sure they don't stick. Once they bob to the surface, let them cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander set over a bowl to finish draining.
I wanted to fry them up lightly with some sage and brown butter, but there was no sage in the house... so I went with a lovely rosemary grapeseed oil that I've used with great success in other recipes, and they fried up splendidly. I boiled and fried up the whole batch so that they wouldn't stick to each other horribly in the fridge.
To top, I grated some parmesan over the top with some chopped fresh chives, and it was glorious!


  1. Oh, darn - I was out for a bit - did you call with that tracking number - I'm home now ::::)

  2. No, but I'll make it for you when I come to visit!! How's that for a plan?

  3. YES!!! Sher, it looks just,well...amazing!! Thanks for making that. I am very inspired by that. And I wish I could muster the courage to make tapioca pudding, but tapioca and I go waaaay back, but not in a good way.

  4. further adventures in butternut squash - I have some variations lately and they worked quite well - sorry no photo's - if you're interested -
    mac and cheese variation:
    I have always loved a healthy dose of yellow cheese in my homemade mac and cheese dishes. recently i took some roasted butternut squash - about 3/4 c. and added some no fat cottage cheese, low fat ricotta cheese, parmegianna(the good stuff - didn't stint on this). I mixed it all together and warmed up (very low heat) in a pan while my pasta was cooking. then stirred it all together - the cheese was gooey and the squash made it look just like it had tons of cheddar - tasted really good as well - of course salt and pepper to taste...

  5. MJ--that sounds glorious, I will have to give it a whirl. I did butternut squash and orzo recently, and it was yummy, but the sauciness of your idea sounds completely divine!


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