Friday, May 20, 2011

Squash Gnocchi with Coconut-Tomato Sauce

Somewhat unseasonal, but my sense of Spring has been totally ruined by weeks of rainy 40- and 50-degree weather. For a small dinner party, I served stacks of pale orange little gnocchis on a thick, boldly spiced tomato sauce, with a swirl of Greek yogurt & toasted cumin seeds on top.

I like the lightness of squash gnocchi compared to their potato brethren. I made 'em with butternut squash, because you can still get it in May (shipped from god-knows-where....), but I would have liked to try kabocha. Must remember this next winter.

Bake the squash well ahead of time (like the night before) so it's cool enough to handle, and leave yourself plenty of time for forming the gnocchi - it took me over an hour (granted, I may have been watching Project Runway at the same time) to make the dough and turn it into enough gnocchi for 4 servings.

I have to admit, this whole dish is just deconstructed version of this soup. Perhaps if I start with my overactive soup imagination, and force myself to put some of the ingredients in other forms, this blog will get a lot more interesting. :)



Halve your squash, brush all sides with oil, place facedown in a glass baking dish, and bake at 350 for an hour or more, 'till it's well and truly softened. Mine was big - the length of a 9x13 dish - and made a lot more dough than I needed.

The next day, scoop your cooled squash into a bowl. For mine, I added 3 eggs; for a smaller squash use 1 or 2. Mash with potato masher, then start adding flour.

The size and moist-ness of your squash will cause the amount of flour needed to vary greatly. The dough will be sticky, and will stick to your fingers even when ready, but you want it floured enough that it's no longer wet, just shaggy, like a ciabatta dough. I used 4 cups before I could handle it well enough to make the leetle gnocchis. (In retrospect, I probably could've left out an egg and thereby reduced the necessary quantity.) If you're uncertain, it's easy to test: get a little water boiling and drop a ball of dough in, and see if you like the result! Once the consistency is good, salt to taste (and add any other spices you like - cumin would be nice with this recipe).

To form the gnocchi, heavily flour a surface or some wax paper, as well as your hands. Scoop up a baseball-sized hunk of dough, plunk it into the flour, roll it around, and form it into a long snake. Anything not flour-coated will stick to your hands, so flour up. Once you have a snake, slice it to make gnocchi, and roll each one in flour again if needed. Use the tines of a fork to give them pretty ridges if you care. Freeze or refrigerate till the sauce and everything else are ready - you want to eat 'em fresh and hot!

Then, it's just a matter of dropping them in boiling water in small batches. They only need about 3 minutes in the water, and are ready when they float to the top. (I tried frying one and thought it tasted too fried, but that's an option too.)

Coconut-Tomato Sauce:

Bring the following to boil in saucepan:

4 large heirlooms, roughly chopped
1/2 can coconut milk
Turmeric, ground cumin, salt, pinch of asefoetida if you have some, dash of lemon juice
Add tomato paste if coconut flavor overpowers tomato

Sautee 1/2 an onion sliced paper-thin, and a handful of dried coconut, then add them to the sauce. Simmer till tasty.

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