As it’s almost past time for me to be making gnocchi and pasta (spring and the annual switch to summer cooking on the horizon) and I know you are all on pins and needles to know how I finished the butternut squash….
Here it is.
Let me qualify that bit about the butternut squash.
I was planning on making butternut squash soup in my brand new pressure cooker (isn’t it pretty?)
But as I was cooking my pot of water (as per the instructions – before using, cook water 10 minutes, high pressure) I realized my squash was no longer edible. Can’t say I was devastated……
With the penultimate butternut squash I made gnocchi.
Traditional gnocchi is made with potatoes and flour.
I am many things… Traditional not being one of them.
Making gnocchi is easy, if a bit time-consuming, but always worth the effort.
To borrow a quote from mon mari about making concrete….
How much flour does one use to make gnocchi? Just enough.
Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Ham and Sage Cream
1 cup cooked, mashed butternut squash
1 – 2 cups flour
For the dough: Mix the squash with 1 cup of the flour; using a wooden spoon or large fork to start. As it comes together add more of the flour until it forms a ball and is difficult to work with. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on the flour. Knead by hand, adding flour, until dough is not too sticky to work with. When you can form the dough into a nice, soft, smooth ball you’re done. Cover with a towel and let it rest for 10 – 15 minutes.
For the gnocchi: Pinch off a small piece of dough, about the size of a golf ball. On a floured surface, using the flat of your hands, roll it into a cylinder 3/4 – 1″ (2cm) thick. Slice off pieces about 1/2″ (1.25cm) thick. Lay the pieces on a towel. Press the tines of a fork into each piece to flatten slightly and give ridges; dipping the fork into flour first if the cut pieces are sticky. Repeat until all the dough is used.
To cook: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the gnocchi and cook until they float, 2 – 3 minutes. Drain.
Ham and Sage Cream
8oz (250gr) ham, cut into cubes
10 fresh sage leaves, chopped or 2 tbs dried
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil
3 tbs butter
3 tbs flour
2 cups (16oz, 480gr) milk
1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) grated Parmesan plus extra for sprinkling
Sauté shallots and ham in oil until shallots are tender. Add sage and keep warm until needed.
In a medium saucepan heat the butter over low heat. Add flour and stir with a whisk for 1 minute. Add a little (1/4 cup) of the milk and whisk to combine. Turn heat up to medium and keep adding milk, a little at a time and whisking. You should have added all of the milk in a minute or 2. When all of the milk is in bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in mustard, Parmesan, ham, shallots.
To finish: Put gnocchi in a shallot baking dish. Top with Ham and Sage Cream, sprinkle with more Parmesan and bake, 350F (175C) for 15 minutes.
Another non-traditional gnocchi is made with spinach, ricotta cheese and less flour. This dough was stickier to work with but too much flour would have made the gnocchi heavy.
I made and cooked all of the gnocchi, but served them as ‘primi’ (pasta courses) on two successive nights…
The first night, when they were fresh and hot, I tossed them with good olive oil and topped with a poached egg.
The second night, I put them in small baking dishes, (straight from the fridge) topped with a Béchamel I made with a full cup of Parmesan, and baked until browned and bubbly.
Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi
12oz (350gr) cooked spinach, all moisture squeezed out
1/2 cup (3.5oz, 100gr) ricotta cheese
1/2 – 3/4 cup flour
Combine spinach, ricotta and 1/2 cup flour. Mix well. Not necessary to knead or let rest. Put remaining flour on work surface and use to flour your hands and the surface as you roll and cut the gnocchi. I did not flatten these but kept them ‘pillow’ shaped.
Cook in rapidly boiling, salted water just until they float or 2 – 3 minutes. To avoid crowding you may want to cook in two batches
Next week – home made ravioli (with home made pasta, of course).
Now I have a pressure cooker question….
After I dutifully cooked my water for 10 minutes I released the pressure by using the pressure release thingy on the regulator.
But all the recipes I’ve looked at say to either let it cool down naturally or to run cold water over it.
I didn’t figure I could screw things up too badly with just water but….
Am I not supposed to use the valve to release pressure?