Happy Halloween, everyone! How is it already the end of October?! I mean, seriously, how did that happen. Halloween means tomorrow is November (November!), Daylight Saving Time starts soon, and all stores will be decorated for Christmas by tomorrow. While everything seems to be flying by a little too quickly, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for the holiday season that’s upon us.
Philip and I don’t have costumes this year, but we do have our candy ready to hand out to the cute trick-or-treaters. I wrote a post last year about why I hand out candy, but this year I’m also supporting the Teal Pumpkin Project by having a few non-food treats set aside for any kiddo who have food allergies or intolerances and can’t enjoy the candy. I think this is a great way to include everybody in the fun and even Philip admits, my non-food treats are pretty awesome. ;)
While I love handing out candy for Halloween, I do think there should be some limit to how much candy the kids enjoy at one time once they get home. I’m sure most families have a rhythm down for what works for them and their kids, but I loved this idea from Sally, a dietitian and mom who blogs over at Real Mom Nutrition, about the Switch Witch. I’ve heard about this witch a couple times this year now and I think it’s a great and fun way to let kids have the candy they want, but then switch out the rest of the candy for a toy or other prize that the witch leaves overnight. It’s definitely an idea I’m keeping in my back pocket for whenever we get to that stage.
But for now, I stashed away a couple Snickers Peanut Butter Squares for myself (re: all of the Squares that were in the variety pack. :) I knew sampling one was a bad idea…) and made up a batch of this delectable and appropriately fall Butternut Squash Gnocchi to enjoy after the trick-or-treaters have had their fill. Like I always say, it’s about finding the balance. ;)
But in all seriousness, this gnocchi is one of my favorites! I’ve been making it every fall since Philip and I have been married and I can’t believe it’s taken me until now to share it with you all. The great thing is that it freezes beautifully and it’s perfect to have as a quick meal all winter long. A little bit of work up front, but it’s well worth it in the end.
The butternut squash flavor is subtle without being in-your-face or overpowering. The savory flavor is a perfect accompaniment to almost any sauce you want to add on top. A simple garlic-butter sauce with chopped sage highlights the gnocchi, but a normal marinara sauce can also be used for a quick night’s meal. This year I had some walnut sauce I got from Eataly in Chicago when we were visiting in the spring that I diluted down with cooking water and used to coat the gnocchi. With a sprinkle of chopped sage on top, it was divine. But, of course, you may not have easy access to walnut sauce, so any kind of walnut pesto would also be fantastic.
My only recommendation is to keep the sauce simple for the first time you enjoy this recipe in order to truly experience the flavor of the gnocchi. Also, add the fresh sage. I promise you it’s worth it. You can always use the leftover sage on other roasted vegetables or even add it into salads. I hadn’t really used a lot of sage before, but it’s quickly become a favorite fall herb of mine. I can’t describe it other than being the perfect compliment to all the fall flavors and recipes being made right now.
If the recipe looks a little daunting to you, just break it into chunks. I find it so much easier to roast the squash, puree it, and get it ready for the fridge the night before I want to actually make the gnocchi. That means the next day is a breeze to actually make the dough and roll out the gnocchi. Which are the cutest, amiright?! I had so much fun making them into cute little gnocchi shapes. :)
It may be the last day of October, but there is still plenty of fall remaining to make up a batch of these Butternut Squash Gnocchi. Enjoy and have a safe and happy Halloween!
Butternut Squash Gnocchi
- 3 lb butternut squash
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, whisked
- 2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour, plus more for rolling (all-purpose flour will also work)
- 7 – 8 leaves sage, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400°. Slice top and bottom off squash, then cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon.
- Place squash halves cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the thickest part of the squash meets no resistance.
- When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop from peel and place in a food processor. Process until very smooth (or mash by hand) then place puree in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to take out most of the moisture of the squash.
- Transfer squash puree to a bowl or plate and refrigerate until cool (you can do this a day before you prepare the gnocchi to cut the work into two days and to allow time for the squash to cool. The squash doesn’t have to be cold, but it’ll make it more difficult to work with).
- Measure out 2 cups cold squash and place in a large bowl. Stir in whisked egg and salt. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and stir until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a heavily floured surface and knead until dough comes together (dough might be sticky, just keep flouring hands and counter lightly).
- Remove large chunks of the dough then roll into a rope and cut into 1″ sections to form the gnocchi. Place onto a wax paper or foil-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid then transfer to a freezer bag, or cook gnocchi immediately. Cook frozen gnocchi the same as fresh (do not thaw).
To cook the gnocchi:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a cup of gnocchi into the pot at a time and cook at a gentle boil until the gnocchi floats to the top, about 2–4 minutes. Transfer, using a slotted spoon, the gnocchi to a plate or bowl to serve.
- Top with chopped sage and a sautéed butter-garlic sauce, if desired. Or top with your favorite marinara, walnut pesto or sauce, or any other sauces that would compliment the butternut squash gnocchi.
Adapted from: Iowa Girl Eats