Friday, January 20, 2012

Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Walnuts

I was organizing Christmas decorations in the basement yesterday afternoon and uncovered a butternut squash. Apparently, while unpacking cookie tins last month, I tossed an empty plastic bag over the squash (which was sitting innocently on a shelf in the cool basement). This, I decided, was a “sign”. Butternut squash for dinner.

Since butternut squash goes so well with sage, I picked some leaves from my (outdoor) still-alive-but-looking-straggly sage plant this afternoon. Then I noticed a small amount of baby spinach leaves in a bag in the refrigerator, and a package of potato gnocchi that I had bought yesterday that was still on the kitchen table.

Jack wandered into the kitchen asked what I was planning for dinner. I told him gnocchi, butternut squash, spinach… and he then suggested that I add toasted walnuts. Brilliant.

I’ve made similar recipes before, but this time I actually wrote down what I did. This was so good! Little pillows of potato-ey gnocchi, cubes of sweet butternut squash, spinach and parmesan, and the crunchy toasted walnuts were an excellent final touch. And it came together very quickly.

Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Walnuts

16 ounces potato gnocchi

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

12 ounces (about 2 ½ cups) peeled and seeded butternut squash (cut into ½” pieces)

1 ½ ounces (about ¼ cup) diced onion (1/2” pieces)

1 large clove garlic, smashed and minced

3 ounces baby spinach leaves (if large, run a knife through them a couple of times)

1 ½ tablespoons fresh, minced sage

salt and pepper to taste

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the gnocchi.

Toast walnuts, if necessary.

Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet. Add squash and cook, stirring frequently, until pieces are just softened (about 5 minutes).

Add gnocchi to boiling water.

Add the onion and garlic to the squash and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Add spinach and cook for another minute. Scoop 1/3 cup of water from the cooking gnocchi and stir into the vegetables. Drain the gnocchi and add to the pan along with the sage leaves and crushed red pepper flakes, stirring gently.

Season with salt and pepper. Divide between 2 plates, sprinkle with Parmesan and walnuts.

An additional comment: This recipe, if you are to go by the gnocchi package, should have made 4 servings. Right. It probably made close to 3—Jack ate two! And, afterward, he said that he could have had another two servings. :) So much for portion control. We love our carbs!

Gnocchi is our downfall. I once saw the photo of a recipe that showed a serving as being 8 measly gnocchi. We laughed. I suppose that if you follow the “recommended servings”, if you are making the above recipe for 4, perhaps you should double all of the other ingredients.

And, after roasting the other half of this butternut squash in the oven to accompany our lunch today, I think that instead of sautéing the squash I would prefer to roast it for in this recipe.