Winter Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage
- ACTIVE: 45 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 30 MIN
- SERVINGS: 4 to 6 Servings
On my first visit to Italy, I stopped in Milan for a few nights. On my second night there, one of my family friends piled my friend Clark and me into his Ferrari, and we took off for Bergamo, a town higher up in the hills about a 45-minute drive away. We had to park a distance out of the old town and walk a few blocks, to a restaurant with a dining room overlooking the valley. It was ancient, with huge candles in wall sconces and a menu that reeked of the classics. I tried quail with roasted grapes for the first time, and we ate gnocchi two ways that night: first with Gorgonzola and cream; then with squash (cut to resemble smaller gnocchi), brown butter and sage. We couldn’t fit into the car for the ride home.
Thanks to that trip, my carbo-meter goes "ding" every time the weather turns cool. If you can relate to this at all, I suggest you make this recipe right away. There is no better autumnal treat than this amazingly insane gnocchi classic. I dare you to eat just one bowl. I started making a lot of gnocchi about 26 years ago at a restaurant called A La Colonna, which a man named John Schumacher owned in NYC. I worked there one summer and got schooled on the gnocchi and risotto stations. This classic northern-Italian combo of sage-Parmesan-gnocchi-brown-butter is one of my top five desert-island dishes.—Andrew Zimmern
- 1 head of garlic, top third cut off
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for rubbing
- 1 pound baking potatoes
- One 2-pound butternut squash—peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 10 sage leaves, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375º. Place racks in the lower and middle thirds of the oven. Drizzle the garlic with olive oil, wrap it tightly in foil and roast on the bottom rack of the oven for 50 minutes. Lightly rub the potatoes with olive oil, prick them all over with a fork and bake on the lower rack for 45 minutes, until fork-tender. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Add the squash and rub with olive oil. Bake on the upper rack for about 30 minutes, stirring once, until soft.
- Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins into a small bowl and mash to a paste. Peel the hot potatoes and pass them through a ricer into a large bowl. Add the hot squash to the ricer and pass it into the bowl with the potatoes. Let cool slightly. Add the egg yolks, ricotta, parsley, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of the mashed roasted garlic (reserve any extra for another use). Stir until combined. Sprinkle on the 1 1/4 cups of flour and gently stir it in. Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently until smooth but still slightly sticky.
- Line a baking sheet with wax paper and dust with flour. Cut the gnocchi dough into 5 pieces and roll each piece into a 3/4-inch-thick rope. Cut the ropes into 1/2-inch pieces and transfer the gnocchi to the baking sheet.
- Lightly oil another baking sheet. In a large, deep skillet of simmering salted water, cook half of the gnocchi until they rise to the surface, then simmer them for 1 to 2 minutes longer, until cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi.
- In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the sage and thyme and cook for 20 seconds. Add the gnocchi and cook for 1 minute, tossing gently. Season with salt and serve, passing the cheese shavings at the table.