Monday, November 8, 2010

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Buttery Sage Sauce

I used to have a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine.  I can't remember why I let it run out; I had been receiving that magazine every month for at least ten years.  I've been vegetarian or vegan for all of them, too.  I know there are some veg*ns that don't like reading some of the mainstream food magazines.  I totally get that.  For me, it's more of a source of inspiration.  As I'm reading the magazine, I'm not thinking that the thing on the page and in the recipe is beef, but seitan or tempeh.  I'm not reading about milk and cheese, my gears are turning with ways to make similar sauces and desserts and things using tahini and raw cashews.  The funny thing is that I actually stopped subscribing to Vegetarian Times because they were starting to really annoy me with how much cheese and eggs they were using in what seemed like every single recipe.  It just got old after a while.  Hey, guess what VT?  Eating fresh, whole fruits and vegetables is good for you and much less artery clogging than that crap.  Sheesh.


Anyway, I was at the checkout in the grocery store, waiting patiently in line.  I always read the magazine headlines for amusement while I'm waiting.  I don't usually know who the trash magazines are talking about, but it amuses me just the same.  There are really about 4 headlines, insert names here.  As I was scanning, I noticed the October issue of Bon Appetit had an amazing looking apple pie on the cover.  Yum!  The fall and winter issues were always my favorite anyway so I decided what the heck and on impulse, I bought it.  What a great decision.  I have made a bunch of recipes inspired by this issue.  A few of the recipes inside are already vegan, too.  Way to go, Bon Appetit!

One of the recipes that I've made my own that I've liked the most is the Butternut Squash Gnocchi.  I've only ever had gnocchi a few times and I've never tried to make it.  I try to eat with the seasons as much as possible so this sounded perfect.  Let me tell you, this is one delicious dish.  It was a bit time-consuming, but most of it was spent waiting for something to cool, not actually doing much of anything.  It's actually quite easy, too.

I'm going to give the recipe for the sauce I made here, too, but I have to say that I wasn't overly thrilled with how that turned out.  It was WAY too buttery for my liking.  I stayed pretty true to the Bon Appetit recipe for this part, but next time I'm going to make a creamy sauce using raw nuts or something instead of this.  I still have a bunch of gnocchi in the freezer so I'll be sure to post whenever I improve on the sauce.

That brings me to another point.  This is going to make a truckload of gnocchi.  I put half of it in the freezer so I'll have it for later.  You'll probably want to just half the sauce if you're doing that.  It makes a ton and unlike how I feel about most sauces, you'll want to go light on it.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

According to Bon Appetit, this makes 6 servings.  They also give a good tip: "For perfect gnocchi, don't work the dough too much and add as little flour as possible.  It's okay if the dough is a little sticky."

1 1-pound butternut squash
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 12-14 ounce russet potato, peeled, quartered

¾ cup nutritional yeast, divided
150g silken or soft tofu (about half of a Mori-Nu pack or one of these)
1½ teaspoons nutmeg (freshly grated if you've got it)
1 teaspoon salt
1¾ cups (or more) all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400F.  Cut the squash lengthwise in half; discard seeds. Place squash halves, cut side up, on baking sheet and brush with oil. Roast until squash is very tender when pierced with a fork and browned in spots, about an hour and a half.  Cool the squash a bit so you don't burn yourself.  Peel the squash as best you can.  Break it into chunks (either with your hands or a knife) and put it in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Transfer it all to a medium sized pot.  Turn the heat to medium and stir constantly until the juices evaporate and the puree thickens, about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  Take 1 packed cup of the puree for the gnocchi.  You can use the rest for something else.  Soup maybe?

Meanwhile, cook the potato in salted water until it's very tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain.  While the potato is warm, mash it using a fork or a potato ricer.  Don't use a processor or mixer for this step or the potato will get all gluey and you don't want that.  Take 2 cups of mashed potato for the gnocchi and use the rest for something else.

Process the tofu with a tablespoon of water in either a blender or food processor until it's smooth.  Mix the squash, potato, ½ cup of the nutritional yeast, tofu, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl.  Gradually add 1¾ cups flour, kneading the mixture gently in the bowl until it holds together and is almost smooth.  If it's too sticky, add more flour by the tablespoonfuls.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface; knead gently but briefly until just smooth.  Divide it into 8 equal pieces.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Sprinkle the parchment lightly with flour.  Working with 1 dough piece at a time, roll the dough out onto a floured surface to about a ½-inch rope. Cut the rope crosswise into ¾-inch pieces (I found that to be about the width of the back of a fork).  Working with 1 piece at a time, roll gnocchi along the back of a fork dipped in flour, making ridges on 1 side with the tines.  Transfer gnocchi to the baking sheets.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and chill at least 1 hour.  You can do this up to 6 hours ahead if you need to.

Working in 2 batches, cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling, salted water until it's very tender, about 15 to 17 minutes.  Gnocchi will float to the surface before being fully cooked so don't be fooled!  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the sam parchment lined baking sheets.  Cover loosely and chill for up to 8 hours or go ahead and put it in bowls or on plates if your sauce is ready.

Buttery Sage Sauce

½ cup (1 stick) Earth Balance
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
A couple of handfuls of shitake mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the Earth Balance over medium heat.  Drop in the mushrooms and saute them for about 5-8 minutes.  Add the sage and pine nuts, cook for another minute or so.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and ladle over the gnocchi.  Alternately, you can drop the gnocchi in the pan and warm it up in the sauce and spoon it out all together if you want.  

Sprinkle with the remaining nutritional yeast and enjoy!


  1. This sounds so good it made my mouth water.

  2. Sounds delish but too much soy! Can we skip the tofu, and myself I would try a cashew based sauce and skip the (soy) Earth balance

  3. I actually use the soy-free Earth Balance, so no soy there!