Butternut squash gnocchi with taleggio cheese sauce

Sometimes things turn out superbly, amazingly so, with really very little effort.  Other times we need to use a heavier hand, forcing the issue a bit like we might with a suitcase that won’t quite close.

Butternut squash is not one of those vegetables that lends itself to be eaten.  Its awkward shape makes it difficult to cut.  We wanted to peel the squash before dicing and roasting it, but its skin proved quite difficult to remove, so we roasted it with the skin on.  Its solid flesh stubbornly refused to soften, so we kept it in the oven even longer.  Once cooked, the skin was still difficult to remove, and a tough outer layer of squash prevented access to the tender roasted flesh inside.

Giving up on this butternut squash was not an option, so we persevered, willing it to turn out so that we could get on with things and make our butternut squash gnocchi.

We actually don’t even like squash that much.  Which is why we rarely cook with it, which is probably why we aren’t all that good at it. (Readers, we welcome all of your winter squash advice.)  Sweet vegetables just aren’t our thing.

Butternut squash gnocchi, another quintessential Italian winter pasta, are an exception.  The nutty squash flavor, made more intense by the roasting, is accentuated by the buttery, toasty Taleggio cheese cream sauce.  Add a glass of red wine, and your fall evening dinner is complete.

Serves 4-6

For the gnocchi
1 medium butternut squash
1/2 cup water
300 g (2 1/4 cup) flour
1 egg
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the Taleggio sauce
200 g (7 ounces) fresh Taleggio cheese, available locally from Surdyk’s and other fine cheese stores
3/4 cup whole milk

Peel and cut your butternut squash, like this.  Place your cubed squash onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and roast at 350° F for about 45 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the squash.  Remove from oven and cool.

Puree the squash and up to 1/2 c water in a food processor.  In a large bowl, stir one egg into the squash.  Add the Parmigiano and mix well.  Gradually mix in the flour, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle flour abundantly onto a smooth work surface.  Take small amounts of dough, and roll into strips slightly larger than a finger’s width.  Slice each length of dough into 1/4 inch gnocchi.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  In the meanwhile, pour the milk into a small saucepan and place over low heat.  Add the Taleggio and allow it to gradually melt, stirring occasionally.   When the large pot of water boils, toss a heaping handful of salt into the water, and carefully add the gnocchi.  Cover, and bring the water back to a boil.  When the water boils again, uncover and carefully stir the gnocchi.

Like all gnocchi, your butternut squash gnocchi are ready when they rise to the surface of the water.  Carefully drain, return them to the pot, and stir in the Taleggio sauce.  Serve immediately.

Download a pdf of the recipe Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Taleggio Cheese Sauce

This entry was posted in Pasta, Rice and Grains, Recipes and Wine Pairings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Butternut squash gnocchi with taleggio cheese sauce

  1. I really like the idea of oven-roasting the squash before using it. I find the winter squashes you find here in the US can lack flavor—certainly nothing like the intensity of real Italian zucca—but roasting must concentrates and intensifies the flavor. Believe it or not, I often substitute baby yams, they have an oddly similar taste and real flavor.

  2. PolaM says:

    I love squash! I think I cooked my best squash 2 days ago: i simply cut it in half and roasted it in the oven at 415F for almost 1 hour and then let it cool down in the oven. I tend to agree with Frank on the squash being less flavorful here, but I found that the early season ones are much better and almost competitive with the Italian ones, especially if roasted or cooked down with milk.

    On a different note: where do you buy taleggio? as a real Bergamsca I could kill for some good taleggio (nevermind I see you bought it at surdyk’s)!

  3. Lisa says:

    I get all my winter squash from an organic farm CSA and I think it’s just as good as zucca italiana. This year I also have “volunteer” butternut and acorn squash growing next to the compost bin! Friends from Mantova (Madison’s sister city) taught us to make risotto with squash and sausage (apart from their famous Tortelli di Zucca). I may have to make that for dinner tonight…..

  4. Simona says:

    Your post made me remember my first try at slicing and peeling butternut squash for roasting. We had guests for dinner and they found me basically in tears, trying to tame the “beast.” Fortunately, my friend is very good at the task I was trying to complete, so in the end, the side dish was served. If I need to dice a butternut squash before using it, I do as shown on the page you reference: a vegetable peeler is easy to use on the skin and then the squash can be cut and diced with the help of a good knife. A small squash is usually not a problem for the blade and with a bigger one, I pierce the skin in a few places then put it in a 375 F oven for 15-20 minutes. After letting it cool a bit, I cut it, clean it and then proceed with the baking at the same temperature, cut-side down. You could do the same using a microwave oven on high for a couple of minutes, but I usually follow the oven procedure.
    I have been stashing squashes for the past few weeks and will continue to do so until the end of our farmers’ market. Every year, I find new varieties to try. However, I have never made butternut squash gnocchi: maybe this year I will get around to do so. The Taleggio sauce sounds lovely.

  5. Ed says:

    This may be a stupid question but what consistency does the mixture need to have before it is placed in the boiling water? My mixture was very liquid like and sticky, it looks like it needs to be more of what I would think of as a cut-out christmas cookie dough? I am a pretty amateurish cook so maybe I used too much water in the puree process. I think this site is great. Sorry about the fire.

  6. duespaghetti says:

    Hi, Ed. It does sound like you may have added a little too much water. The mixture is definitely sticky, stickier than cookie dough, but it should hold its shape when you roll it and cut the gnocchi. It’s a pretty forgiving recipe, so if it is too sticky, go ahead and add a little more flour. You’ll also want to have plenty of flour on hand as you roll the dough out to help with the stickiness. As you add flour, the gnocchi become heavier and the intense butternut squash flavor becomes more subdued, so the trick is to use enough flour to make it manageable, but resist adding too much flour. Good luck! We’re glad you like the blog, and appreciate your sympathy on the fire.

  7. Pingback: Risotto alla zucca (butternut squash risotto) | Due Spaghetti

  8. Ron says:

    As a professional cook, I deal with butternut Squash all the time. 2 good ways to deal with it: Place a damp towel on your cutting board and then put the squash on the towel and cut in half, right above the bulb where the seeds stop. Then use a vegetable peeler to peel the shell. Use the flat edges you made to your advantage to stabilize while you peel. The other method is to use the damp towel to reduce slipping and then use a hacksaw (at work I use a bone saw which is just a larger version with nsf blade) to saw it lengthwise. Then I roast the halves face down on cookie sheets (make sure you use the sheets with all four egdes so you dont get a messy oven. usually I roast at 375 in convection for 45+ minutes, so at home, 400 for the same should be about right. Rotate your pans every 15 mins to get an even roast. There is my winter squash advise. I use hacksaws with all kinds of squash. safest method I can think of. Squash can be terrifying. I always feel like I will lose a finger working with a knife to peel any squash. Good luck and thank you for the recipe!

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