Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CSA 11: Butternut Squash

Some more butternut squash was left over from one of my CSA shares from Upper Meadows Farm. I didn't want the normal roasted squash or soup. As much as I like those, I wanted something different. I came across an easy recipe for sweet potato gnocchi and thought to myself, "why not butternut squash gnocchi?". This was either going to be a huge failure or something grand. Nonetheless, it was going to be fun. I started off by taking the top off the squash and splitting it in half. I scooped out the seeds and pulp. Then add some salt, pepper, and oil. Into a roasting pan for 1 hour at 375 degrees. They roast much slower in half pieces. If these were all cubed up into bite sized pieces, it would have only taken 30 minutes. The flesh was fork tender and I easily scooped it out of the skin. I mashed the squash up. A food mill or ricer would work really well here. Since I'm still dreaming of my own food mill, just some elbow grease and a fork will do. I piled up the squash on a well floured countertop and made a well (a la Mario Batali). Into that I added 3 large egg yolks. I slowly added more flour as I mixed all the ingredients together with a fork. Keep adding the flour until a ball of dough forms. It's still sticky but has a nice bouncy texture. I separated the large dough into workable pieces (6-8) and roll them out into long logs. Once they reach about 1/4-1/2 inch in diameter, I cut them into pieces. You can roll them onto the tines of a fork for shape but I was too lazy to do so. Besides, a couple of own personal tries and they fell apart. More practice! I placed the individual gnocchi pieces on plastic on a tray ready for the freezer. But of course, I needed to try a couple of pieces for flavor and texture. I brought a pot of water to a rapid boil. Added salt, then the pasta. I stirred so that they didn't stick to the bottom. While that cooked (when fresh, they cook rather quickly), I melted a pat of butter slowly until browned. Once the gnocchi floats, it's cooked. I added that to the butter and sauteed it briefly. Some sage leaves would work wonders here but I didn't have any. The flavor of the gnocchi is really good. It's sweet from the squash but so decadent from the butter. The texture is slightly chewy but still soft. Success! Although it's nothing compared to the marshmallow soft gnocchi I've had at some Italian restaurants, it's good enough for me on my first gnocchi try. Next time, I'll try to get the squash into a finer mash using a food mill. And I will try to work the dough less allowing the pasta to remain even more soft. I'm really happy with the outcome and I have plenty frozen for future use. Upper Meadows Farm 12 Pollara Lane Montague, NJ 07827 (973) 293-8171

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