Gnocch, Gnocch…

The other day I blogged about my cathartic butternut squash soup experience of two weeks ago. I had gotten my hands on another squash and had planned to recreate the soup, hopefully with less crying this time (though no guarantees were made). Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans…

Basically, they change. I think they change even more than in the past now that everyone is addicted to Facebook. See, while my squash was roasting, I hopped online for a few minutes to kill some time. During this time period, a friend of mine posted a link to Saveur magazine’s feature on fall pastas. The first recipe on the list? Butternut squash gnocchi with meat sauce.

I was intrigued. I love a good pasta. I was practically halfway done since the squash was already roasting. I shelved plans for the soup and instead turned my focus to gnocchi, which I had never made before.

To get the meat sauce underway, I employed two pans – one to brown the meat (a mixture of ground pork and ground beef) and one to soften the onions. Once the onions were translucent, I added a can of tomatoes (chopped) and the juices from the can and let it simmer and thicken. I then drained the fat from the meat and mixed it in with the tomato and onion mixture.

Onions softening

Browned meat, drained and seasoned

 

Tomato sauce simmering

 

All together

The gnocchi itself was incredibly easy: I mixed up the mashed squash with two eggs, some seasoning, and some flour.

Squash, eggs, salt

 

With flour added

Yep. That’s it.

I was worried about the next part – dropping spoonfuls into lightly boiling water – but I shouldn’t have been. It worked perfectly, the little blobs of dough sinking to the bottom and then bobbing back up to the top. The whole process took minutes.

The boiling process

 

Cooling a bit

I couldn’t resist sneaking a gnocchi while I was boiling the second batch. I was a bit disappointed at first – I didn’t taste any squash – but as they cooled a bit, the squash flavor became much more evident.

Once I was done, I plopped a few gnocchi on a plate and spooned some meat sauce over them. I could hardly wait to eat this meal.

The final product

Well…I wasn’t disappointed, exactly. The texture of the gnocchi contrasted with the very meaty sauce made for a nice pairing, but I found the sauce to be almost too rich for this dish. I think a simple tomato or cream sauce would have worked better. Actually, the next day I drizzled some of the reheated dumplings with a nice olive oil and grated some good Parmesan cheese over the top – perfection.

I’ll definitely be making gnocchi again and experimenting with different sauces. Overall, a tasty and original way to use a butternut squash!

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