AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Always the Bridesmaid (Recipe: Squash Gnocchi) DATE: 11/29/2009 11:58:00 AM ----- BODY:

About 2 months into culinary school, my ego was convinced I should be a better cook. I began experimenting with recipes that I previously would never have dreamed about trying…. For Passover I decide to make a whole salmon stuffed with a trio of mousses: spinach, red pepper and potato. I imagined a most impressive presentation with spirals of tricolored mousses contrasting the orange salmon. I shed a few tears as my brother-in-law tried to encourage me through the process.

A few months later at my uncle’s house, I attempted squash gnocchi. They weren’t much better. Thankfully, the audience was equally supportive as I tried to fumble my way through dinner.

Though, I’ve mastered many complicated dishes since graduating from culinary school, I still harbor a little trepidation about squash gnocchi. These winter vegetables straddle into the “starch” classification, but don’t have the binding qualities that Idaho potatoes have, making them more challenging than regular potato for gnocchi and other dumplings. And like the spinach and bell peppers of the mousse fiasco, they have a high water content which requires extra flour as a binder, and can cause leaden dumplings.

A few weeks ago, I decided to tackle the squash gnocchi again. I figured that 20 years was enough time to get over the old wounds and develop a repertoire of skills to get me through.

My first attempt was a mediocre at best… based on my research, I thought I’d be able to roll out the gnocchi by hand as I do with regular potato. The dough was so wet that I kept adding flour and more flour… to the point that I knew I’d have dense dumplings (and based on the comments from my matzah ball post, I know that a loud minority actually prefer this).

Attempt #2: I got the brilliant idea to pipe the dough into the boiling water. This allowed for a wetter, lighter dough, and worked much better. I served these with roast duck, but the duck skin cracklings stole the show.

Since I wanted to blog about these, I recreated this recipe for Thanksgiving. And as delicious as they were, they were upstaged a second time. This time, I tossed them with Brussels sprouts from the garden which were roasted with bacon.

The dumplings are great, but are easily upstaged.

Squash Gnocchi
1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
1 ½ cup flour
2 eggs
½ tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder (optional)
1 cup chicken broth or 2 tbs. butter
1. Cut squash in half. Put on a baking sheet, cut side down. Add water to the pan, and bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until squash are tender. It may be necessary to add more water to the pan if it all evaporates.
2. Let squash cool. Scoop out seeds and discard.
3. Scoop out pulp into a food processor and blend until smooth. Measure out one cup of puree (set aside the remainder for soup or another favorite recipe). Add flour, eggs, curry powder, salt and baking powder. Blend in food processor minimally, just until smooth.
4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt.
5. Fill a piping bag with a large plain tip. Fill with gnocchi filling. Gently pipe out ¾” logs, and then cut off into the water with a butter knife. Boil for 2 minutes. Scoop out with a slotted spoon into a dish with either the butter or chicken broth (this will keep the dumplings from sticking together before serving.
6. It may be necessary to cook the dumplings in batches.
Serve with Brussels sprouts, duck or turkey.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Melissa DATE:11/29/2009 09:03:00 PM I can imagine that they would be upstaged by the things you served them with. But I admire your perseverance. I'm starting to tackle some things that I couldn't make even two years ago. It's always good to come back and try again. :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:11/29/2009 09:44:00 PM You know what they say about getting back up on the horse.... Maybe I should try making pita bread again. It's been at least a decade since I tried it. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:11/30/2009 08:51:00 PM I love the idea, and I know you will meet your standard someday! I'd be happy to serve as part of the tasting panel! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Rate This Recipe! DATE:12/01/2009 06:13:00 PM I love squahs, this looks delicious. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:12/02/2009 08:11:00 AM Melissa -- it's fun to nail a new recipe. I'm glad to see you branching out more.

Lydia -- I don't know, you could wait another few years.. ;-) I actually just tried pita for the first time this year with varying success. Peter F. has a great recipe!

T.W. -- Great, happy to have you taste test.

Rate this recipe - thanks. And thanks for visiting. ----- --------