Gnocchi is satisfying when done well. Kabocha squash makes a delicious fall and winter substitute for potato. Its dry, bright orange flesh is easy to work with, tasty, and looks great on the plate. Fried sage, walnuts, butter, and Parmigiano complete the simple but deeply satisfying meal.
The key is to exercise restraint in order to avoid overworking the dough. Mix until it just comes together, allowing the texture of the dough to be a little rough and shaggy. Trust that the dough will become smoother as the process proceeds—it will.
This recipe makes a substantial amount of gnocchi. You may want to poach and fry the gnocchi in batches to avoid overcrowding your pot and pan. Surplus uncooked gnocchi can be frozen for another night, and tossed into salted boiling water right from the freezer.
- 20 ounces/600 grams kabocha squash (about 1 medium squash)
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon butter (melted)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
- 1 1/2 cups/200 grams all-purpose flour (sifted)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup fresh sage leaves (loosely packed)
- 1 cup walnuts (halves and pieces, toasted)
- 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano (shaved)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Gather the ingredients. Heat the oven to 350 F.
Split the kabocha in half vertically. Scoop out the seeds and pulp and discard. Place squash cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 45 minutes or until the flesh is tender and separates easily from the skin. Turn the squash halves cut side up to cool.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop the flesh away from the skin. Discard the skin. Pass the kabocha flesh through a potato ricer or mash well with a potato masher. Weigh 20 ounces and set aside any extra for another use.
Add the quash, salt, egg yolk, butter, olive oil, and nutmeg to a large bowl. Toss to combine.
Add the sifted flour and mix gently with a spoon. Use your hands to knead the dough until you are just able to form it into a single mass.
Pull off a lump of dough about the size of a lemon. Lightly flour a work surface and your hands. Roll the lump into a rope about a 1/2-inch thick, then cut the rope into 1/2-inch pieces. If desired, use a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork to create ridges in the gnocchi. Set aside on a lightly floured parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Do not salt the water. Poach the gnocchi until they float to the surface, then remove them to a sheet pan with a spider skimmer or slotted spoon. Drizzle the gnocchi with a little olive oil to prevent sticking and arrange in a single layer.
Put two large skillets on the stove and place 1/4 cup of butter in each skillet. Heat the first skillet over medium heat. When the butter foams, add the sage leaves. Fry the sage until the leaves are crispy and the butter is lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the sage leaves and set aside, then ladle about one cup of the gnocchi cooking liquid into the skillet. Bring to a simmer to slowly reduce the buttery sauce while you fry the gnocchi.
Heat the second skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter stops foaming, add the cooked gnocchi. Gently sauté until the gnocchi is partially browned and lightly crisped on the outside. Add the walnuts and stir to distribute. Remove from heat.
Plate the gnocchi and walnuts. Top each plate of gnocchi with some of the fried sage leaves and a few spoonfuls of the reduced butter sauce. Top with the shaved Parmigiano and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.
How to Store Winter Squash Gnocchi
Cooked gnocchi will keep for several days in the fridge, covered. To reheat, add a little olive oil or butter to a skillet over medium heat, add the gnocchi, and cook until heated through. You can also microwave gnocchi, but the texture may not be ideal.
You can also freeze uncooked gnocchi in a zip-close freezer bag for up to 3 months. You can cook it in salted boiling water right from the freezer.