Northern Italy is known for its stuffed pasta, and ravioli is what I had originally planned to make. However, I lack a pasta roller, and because I knew I wouldn’t have the appropriate tools, I didn’t want to set myself off for failure right away. At some point, I plan to highjack my mom’s Kitchen Aid mixer and accompanying pasta attachment, and then I’ll be able make pasta. She’s been too busy to read my blog, so by the time she gets around to reading this, the Kitchen Aid will be mine…muahahahaha. Until then, I’m kicking off Northern Italy with an easier-than-it-looks dish of Butternut Squash Gnocchi with a Butter-White Wine sauce, garnished with roasted walnuts. It IS as rich as it sounds.
Gnocchi is thought to have come from the Italian word for “knuckle” due to its shape. I haven’t been able to find a definitive source that says gnocchi comes from Northern Italy. Rather, these dumplings were thought to come from the Middle East brought back to Italy by the Romans a long time ago (that’s the timeline I’ve got for you…). Even if that’s the case, Italy has no doubt made this dish their own, and the base can be potatoes (traditional), semolina, ricotta, or butternut squash like I’m doing here today. Despite the whole not-coming-from-Northern-Italy thing, my train of thought for making these today was this legit:
“Northern Italy is famous for stuffed pasta…I’ll make ravioli….I’ll make butternut squash ravioli…I don’t have a pasta roller…oh, look, there’s a recipe for butternut squash gnocchi….that sounds good…I’ll make that.”
Just so you don’t’ think I’m pulling these recipes out of thin air. Plus, I found it in Rustico, which drew it from the Val de’Aosta region.
The whole process look a little over two hours, and that included roasting the squash. I think this could have been accomplished in a lot less time by simply microwaving the squash until it was soft. I’m going to write this out as I made it, but that’s just something to consider in the event you want to duplicate my efforts.
2 ½ pounds butternut squash, peeled and diced into 2” cubes
1 ¼ cups grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese
1 TB salt
½ cup flour
1 sprig rosemary
¼ cup parsley
2 cloves garlic
½ cup white wine
¼ cup roasted walnuts
2 TB butter
shredded or grated cheese, to garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Spread the squash on a baking sheet, coat it in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until soft, but not crispy, about 1 hour.
3. Once soft, let cool 15 minutes and either put through a ricer twice or in a food processor and puree until smooth. (I tried to use the ricer and failed. I have no idea why I even have one. Extraneous kitchen gadget.)
4. To the puree, add the cheese, salt, nutmeg, and enough flour to make a dough. You may not use the whole ½ cup, so put in a little at a time.
5. Cut the dough into four pieces and roll each one into finger thin logs.
6. Cut the dough into ½ inch pieces and layer on a single, floured tray.
7. Boil 6 quarts of water. Add the gnocchi and cook until the float, about 2 minutes. They will float, I was a non-believer. Remove to a separate plate.
8. While you’re working with the gnocchi, in a sauté pan, add the butter and garlic. Cook about 3 minutes until garlic is slightly brown. Add the wine and reduce until desired thickness.
9. Right before you’re ready to serve, toss the gnocchi in the sauce with the walnuts and herbs.
10. Serve topped with cheese.