Life can be very busy and chaotic and that’s exactly how I would describe my life these past 6 to 8 months. Sadly for me, I’ve had no time to do what I love most - cooking and posting recipes on La Cucina Grandinetti. This past Saturday, I was able to set aside some time to get together with three of my friends, drink wonderful exquisite wine, and create something spectacular to eat.
My friend, Lynne, suggested that we make Lidia Bastianich’s butternut squash gnocchi recipe. This was the perfect suggestion since I had just gone to Lidia’s restaurant, Felidia, located at 243 East 58th St, in NYC. I would be remiss not to mention that the food and service at Felidia was fabulous. If you are in NYC and looking for a great place to eat, you should definitely try Felidia. Ok, let’s get back to the recipe.
I like a potato gnocchi that is light and fluffy and melts in your mouth. And in my opinion, making gnocchi with these characteristics is not the easiest thing to do. It takes practice and experience and it helps to know the feel of the dough. Here are a few helpful tips that my friends and I learned last night.
- Consider and limit the amount of water from the potatoes and other ingredients. The original recipe instructed us to boil the potatoes; however, in order to reduce the amount of water in the potatoes, we baked them instead. We also wrapped the cooked and pureed butternut squash in a cheesecloth to squeeze out the excess water.
- Use only the amount of flour needed to make a dough that’s cohesive and not too sticky. Keep in mind that dense gnocchi results from having excess water in your potato mixture and then having to add more flour to give you a cohesive dough.
- Work quickly when mixing and handle the dough as little as possible.
This recipe truly encapsulates the essence of fall and gives you the lightest, fluffiest gnocchi that you’ll ever have —that is, if you follow the helpful tips listed above.
Makes 6 servings
- 3-pound butternut squash (you’ll need 1 cup of packed squash puree)
- 2 12- to 14-ounce russet potato
- 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 large egg, beaten to blend
- 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 to 1- 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- Additional grated Parmesan cheese
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400°F.
Step 2: Cut squash lengthwise in half; discard seeds. Place squash halves, cut side up, on baking sheet and brush with oil. Roast until squash is very tender when pierced with skewer and browned in spots, about 1-1/2 hours. Cool slightly.
Step 3: Rub the potato with olive oil and prick it with the tines of a fork. Place potato on a baking sheet and cook for 60 minutes, until the skin is crispy, and sticking it with a fork meets no resistance.
Step 4: Scoop the flesh from squash into food processor and puree until smooth.
Step 5: Wrap the squash puree in a cheesecloth and squeeze excess water out of it. Measure 1 packed cup of the squash puree (reserve remaining squash for another use.
Step 6: Peel cook potato and while potato is warm, press through potato ricer into medium bowl; cool completely. Measure 2 cups (loosely packed) riced potato (reserve remaining potato for another use).
Step 7: Mix squash, potato, 1/2 cup Parmesan, egg, nutmeg, and salt in large bowl. Gradually add the flour, kneading gently into mixture in bowl until dough holds together and is almost smooth. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls. We used a little over half of the flour that the recipe calls for us to use.
Step 8: Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead gently but briefly just until smooth. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.
Step 9: Line large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Sprinkle parchment lightly with flour.
Step 10: Working with 1 dough piece at a time, roll dough out on floured surface to about 1/2-inch-thick rope. Cut rope crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll gnocchi along back of fork tines dipped in flour, making ridges on 1 side or roll gnocchi on a gnocchi board. Transfer gnocchi to baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour. Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep chilled.
Step 11: Working in 2 batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, 15 to 17 minutes (gnocchi will float to surface but may come to surface before being fully cooked). Using slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to same parchment-lined baking sheets. Cool. Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover loosely and chill.
Step 12: Cook butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat just until golden, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sage; stir 1 minute.
Step 13: Add gnocchi; cook until heated through and coated with butter, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 14: Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Serve with additional Parmesan.