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.
For the gnocchi
1 medium butternut squash
1/2 cup water
300 g (2 1/4 cup) flour
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