Potato Gnocchi with Sage, Asiago Cheese and Butter over Red Pepper Flake-Roasted Delicata Squash

October 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

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I have been sitting on this recipe since the spring so I guess it is time to get it out there. Gnocchi isn’t difficult, but it can be time consuming and it is a bit fussy in that you need to be ready to cook it immediately to avoid that unattractive oxidization. Despite all this, it is one of the most rewarding dishes you can make at home; it truly makes you feel like an Italian grandmother.

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I chose to use asiago cheese for serving because it was on sale, but any hard, nutty cheese would work well. Parmesan, gruyere, pecorino-romano, etc. Russet potatoes are basically a blank canvas, so you can really experiment with any variety of herbs. I enjoy sage but you can build the dish around whatever herbs look good or are in season. Be sure to season generously! I enjoyed this over delicata squash roasted with red pepper flakes, adding the sweet and spicy components that the gnocchi was lacking.

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A few notes about gnocchi: it is better served the day it is made. It will oxidize slightly on the second day which will make it less attractive but still delicious. By the third or fourth day it will become very gummy and not worth eating, so I would suggest making this in fairly small batches or only when you have several mouths to feed. I give very detailed instruction on my process for cooking the gnocchi so please read carefully before setting up your kitchen for the cooking.

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1 year ago, today: Tomato Bisque with Garbanzo Beans over Roasted Cauliflower and Polenta

Potato Gnocchi with Sage, Asiago Cheese and Butter over Red Pepper Flake-Roasted Delicata Squash:
adapted from class instruction
serves 5
– 1/2 lb cannellini beans, soaked, cooked
– 2 3/4 lb russet potatoes
– 1 tsp dried rosemary
– 1 tsp dried thyme
– salt & pepper
– 8 oz white whole wheat flour (or All-Purpose)
– 2 delicata squash, cut in half, seeded and cut into wedges
– 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
– 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup butter, separated.
– 1 small bunch sage, chiffonade
– asiago cheese for serving

In a large saucepan, cover potatoes in well-salted water and bring to a boil, down to a simmer until tender. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Strain potatoes and allow to cool slightly so that they can be handled. Once cooled enough to handle, remove peel (you should be able to pull them off with only your fingers). Place peeled potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet (do not grease the sheet) and move to the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the potatoes feel very dry (they should not brown). After removing the potatoes, raise the temperature to 400 degrees F., for the squash.

Ideally, you should food mill the potatoes into a bowl or use a potato ricer; alternatively use a box grater to shred them. Season the potatoes with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Slowly add the flour to the bowl while begin to knead the dough. Empty contents of the bowl onto a clean, floured surface and continue to knead, adding more flour if needed, until it gains structure and is no longer sticky. Divide the dough into three equal portions, divide each portion into quarter.

Step away from the gnocchi for a moment to coat the wedges of squash in oil and red pepper flakes. Roast until tender, approximately 30 minutes. Working with one portion at a time, roll each into a cylinder using your hands until it is the width of a penny. At this point, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil so that you are ready to cook the gnocchi as soon as it is ready (waiting to do this will allow the gnocchi to oxidize and become grey). Cut each cylinder into 1″ lengths and use forks or gnocchi paddles to make the characteristic indentations.

The cooking process should now take place in two batches so that you don’t cool down the boiling water by adding everything at once (this cooks very quickly so you don’t need to worry about the first batch cooling down; however if you have an oven-safe serving bowl, you can keep the first batch in the oven with the squash, set at the lowest temperature). Melt the 1/2 cup of butter in a small saucepan and set aside. Melt the 1/4 cup butter in a saute pan and immediately place half of the gnocchi in the boiling water with a colander set over a bowl immediately next to the boiling water. As soon as the dumplings rise to the top of the boiling water, remove with a slotted spoon into the colander. With the buttered saute pan on medium-high, dump the boiled dumplings into the pan (you can now boil the second batch while sauteing the first batch) with half of the cooked cannellini beans. Saute for several minutes to allow the outside to caramelize lightly. Toss half of the chiffonade sage into the pan and turn the contents  into a serving bowl. Saute the second batch with the remaining cannellini beans, adding the remaining sage, and turn into the serving bowl. Pour the reserved melted butter into the bowl, stirring to incorporate so that it is well coated, tasting for seasoning (you may not use the entire 1/2 cup; it is completely up to your preferences. Pour what isn’t used into a small jar and refrigerate for later use). Grate asiago cheese over the dumplings and serve over roasted squash.

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