Sick Days and Squash Gnocchi...

Neither of these two things are related.  However, I am home sick with a cold today and now that I am hopped up on plenty of Sudafed and tired of sleeping (an oxymoron it's true, but one can only sleep so much), so I thought I would share my gnocchi recipe and a few pictures of my recent gnocchi making extravaganza. See, I don't do anything in small batches.  I tend to be a food mass-producer and then freezing or saving most of my efforts for later meals.  It's been 2-3 months since these pictures were taken, yet we still have gnocchi in the freezer.  This is good though as it makes mid-week meals much simpler.

I love Squash gnocchi.  The main reason is that you are using a much more nutrient rich vegetable to make something that normally wouldn't be that great for you.  Regular potato gnocchi is delicious, but not quite as healthy.  Another thing I do is use about half whole wheat flour in this dish so it is more hearty and bettor for you.

Here is what you need:

-1 med sized squash of your choice (anything except summer squash or spaghetti squash)  I use kobacha, butternut or pumpkin depending on what I have lying around and yes I do have squash lying around quite a bit.  It's my favorite food.

-Whole wheat and regular Unbleached white flour (There is no exact amount needed here so just have plenty on hand)

-Salt (to taste)

-Cinnamon and Nutmeg (if you want a more fall tasting gnocchi, it's delicious but not required)

First you halve the squash and remove the seeds.  Place on a baking tray in the oven until you can easily poke a fork into the flesh and it is soft.  I usually cook mine at about 375-400 degrees.  Keep in mind that I am not a chef and this is not really an exact science so I just keep an eye on it until it's done.

Once the squash is out of the oven, let it cool until you can peel the skin off with your fingers.  As I peel, I make sure to drop a few pieces of baked squash into Wallace's bowl or onto the floor.  Squash is his favorite food.  We have that in common.  Besides, he looks so sad if I don't share.

All of the peeled squash goes into a big bowl.

Once all of your squash is in a big bowl, get ready for the fun part.  Getting ready entails washing your hands and removing all jewelry that is on or near your hands.  Warning, if you don't you will get squash in all crevices of your rings, so if you don't want to have to get them professionally cleaned, please take them off now.  Seriously, I speak from personal experience.

Now, using your hand, mash up the squash as much as possible.  It should be smooth like the pumpkin you use in pies or at least close to it.  If you have a friend, housemate, partner etc., have them standing by ready for action on this next part.  If not, it's about to get messier.

Now that the squash is sufficiently mashed, have your accomplice begin to add 1 cup at a time of flour, alternating from wheat to white as they go.  As they are adding, you are hand mixing the flour into the squash.  This part of the process is also where you add in the salt and spices.  Usually I just eyeball that too, but the amount I add is probably somewhere around a teaspoon of each.

Once you have a nice dough that is similar to bread dough, turn the mixture out onto a floured board.  Continued to knead, adding more flour to the board as needed.  I've heard that the longer you knead, the better it tastes, but i'm not really sure how long they really mean.  I usually knead it for a good 10 minutes or so.

After kneading, cut your dough into two hunks and put one back into the mixing bowl.  Roll out the one half onto your floured board until it's about 3/4 of an inch thick.  Using a sharp knife (and possibly wet if you have trouble cutting) slice the dough into 1" wide strips.  Then, cut the dough the opposite direction creating squares or rectangles.  Basically, you want bite sized pieces so not too big.

Now, I know that most restaurant gnocchi is much prettier and daintier looking than this and you are certainly welcome to make yours prettier.  We don't usually go to that extra step as it is quite time consuming, and takes away from the time we could actually be consuming this delicious dish!

After cutting, I usually begin to arrange these pieces onto plates (close together but not touching) for the freezing process.  I freeze them this way and then pop them off of the plates and store them in the freezer in quart sized plastic baggies in meal portioned sizes.  This way they freeze individually and don't get stuck together.  Since our freezer is small, we can only put a plate or two in at a time, but they only take about 30 mins or so to freeze.  I roll out and cut the other half of the mixture the same way reserving a portion of the gnocchi for that evenings meal.

To cook, I bring plenty of slightly salted water to a boil in a medium sized pot.  Once it's boiling, I add in my gnocchi.  The gnocchi is cooked when the dumpling begin to float to the surface of the boiling water.  Take them off of the burner and let them sit in the water while you prep the rest.

We serve these without sauce, though if you want a more traditional gnocchi, serve them in a red sauce with basil and parmesan cheese.  I usually chop one medium white onion and caramelize it in a bit of butter and olive oil, sugar, and balsamic vinegar.  I add walnuts to this mixture about halfway through.  (Basically I start with the oil and butter and add the onions, then I just cook them for a bit and adding in the other items gradually to layer the flavors).  Once this is ready, I use a slotted spoon to add in the gnocchi from the pot of water.  I don't drain the gnocchi, I just let them sit in the pot so they stay tender.  Then I stir in the gnocchi with the onion and walnut mixture until they are all coated.  Turn off the heat and cover and let them sit for a minute.

Scoop into bowls or serve over fresh spinach with Parmesan on top.  Yum!

Sorry for the crappy photos, the lighting in our house is terrible and I am by no means a pro! :)

Ok, back to laying on the couch, sniffling, and attempting to not get snot on the knitting.  Hope you all are having a wonderful Monday!