Butternut Squash Gnocchi

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It is no secret that I love gnocchi. In fact if I were on death row it would be my choice for a last meal. Whereas my lemon-lime gnocchi was light, delicate and subtle, it’s butternut squash cousin is precisely the opposite, bold, earthy, and robust. The flavours are complex and the eating experience is sublime. I have combined the gnocchi with a simple rosemary brown butter to let each of the flavours stand on their own. For those of you who are hesitant to try homemade gnocchi, take the plunge and try this one, you will not be disappointed with the results.

What you need:

  • 1 small to medium butternut squash
  • 2 heads of garlic (tops sliced off)
  • Olive oil for roasting (enough to liberally coat the squash)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of flour (more or less may be needed depending on the size of squash and moisture content)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 125 g salted butter
  • 2-3 sprigs of rosemary, stripped and finely chopped
  • 2-3 peeled whole cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup Graviera cheese (use Romano if you cannot find Graviera)
  • Optional 1-2 slices of prosciutto, fried crispy
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How it’s done:

  • With a peeler, remove all the outside skin of the squash.
  • Cut the squash in half, remove and discard the seeds, then cut it into a large dice.
  • Place in a roasting pan with the heads of garlic and season it with salt and pepper.
  • Add enough oil coat everything well and roast at 200C (400F) for 45 minutes or until the squash is very soft.
  • Let cool.
  • Once the squash is cooled, place it and the egg in a food chopper (or use a bowl and fork).  Squeeze the cloves out of the roasted garlic heads, discarding the skins,  and pulse together until smooth.
  • Place the mixture in a large bowl and slowly add the flour a bit at a time while stirring the mixture.
  • As you continue to add the flour you will slowly see a dough begin to form. It will be sticky, but resist the urge to overwork it (the more you work the dough the tougher the gnocchi become.)
  • Once you are able to work it with your hands, transfer it to a countertop and separate it into 4-5 workable pieces.
  • Take the first piece and roll it out until you have a long strand about 1-2 cm thick.
  • Cut the dough into 2 cm segments, toss with a little flour and set aside on a large cookie sheet.
  • Repeat the process until you have all the dough cut up.
  • Place the butter in a pan and gently heat with the whole garlic cloves and rosemary.
  • Continue to heat the butter until it is foamy and begins to turn brown.
  • When the garlic is brown and soft, squash it with the back of your spoon and let it disintegrate into the butter.
  • In a large pot of boiling water, add the the gnocchi and let them cook for about 1-2 min or until they float.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl, tossing them with the rosemary butter.
  • Serve with grated cheese and crumbled prosciutto.
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