RECIPE: Fall for gnocchi with butternut squash

Butternut Squash Gnocchi (Italian dumplings) are light, tasty, and full of vitamin A. (Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Butternut Squash Gnocchi (Italian dumplings) are light, tasty, and full of vitamin A. (Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Once you’ve enjoyed all of the butternut squash soup you can possibly simmer, what else can you make with the season’s tastiest gourds? Gnocchi! Pronounced “no-key,” gnocchi are pillowy dumplings that hail from Italy. Potato gnocchi may be ubiquitous, but gnocchi made from squash are colorful, tasty, and full of vitamin A.

First, lighten the squash puree with an egg and low-fat ricotta cheese. Then add just enough flour to make a workable dough. Cut the dough into tiny pieces, because they blossom when boiled. If you have time, double the recipe and freeze the extra raw dumplings. You can boil them straight from the freezer, for an elegant meal in minutes. When making your own sauce, skip the pinch of sugar. Bold tomatoey goodness complements our naturally sweet squash.

Now that you’ve mastered gnocchi making, adapt the recipe to use up starchy leftovers, like an extra baked sweet potato, or a bonus can of pumpkin puree. Colorful, healthy comfort food is always in season.

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Gnocchi (Italian dumplings) are often made with potatoes, but here they're made with butternut squash. Kellie Hynes for The AJC
Gnocchi (Italian dumplings) are often made with potatoes, but here they're made with butternut squash. Kellie Hynes for The AJC

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Butternut Squash Gnocchi
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, seeded
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 5 fresh sage leaves plus more for garnish
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the squash, cut-side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 50-60 minutes, until fork tender. Allow to cool to room temperature. Use your fingers to peel and discard the skin. Place the flesh in a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Pulse, scraping down the sides, until the squash is pureed. Measure 1 cup of packed puree, reserving any remainder for another use.
  • Use a fork to gently combine the puree, egg, ricotta, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour and stir again. Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour on the work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough, sprinkling with additional flour if necessary, until it is only a little sticky. Divide the dough and roll it into two, 1/2-inch-thick ropes. Use a sharp knife to cut the gnocchi into 1/2-inch pieces. Optional: Press the tines of a fork into each piece to create sauce-clinging ridges.
  • Bring 3 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a rolling boil in a large pot. Working in batches, use a slotted spoon to place the gnocchi in the water. Boil for 6 minutes, until the gnocchi are pillowy and tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove the gnocchi and place them to the side. Repeat until all gnocchi are cooked.
  • In the meantime, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium pot. Saute the onion for 4 minutes. Add the sage leaves and saute a minute longer. Add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the boiled gnocchi and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 398 calories (percent of calories from fat, 21), 17 grams protein, 62 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 9 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 66 milligrams cholesterol, 334 milligrams sodium.

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