Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Butternut Squash Gnudi with Browned Butter and Sage

There is something about the transition into Autumn that makes me feel down...the damp cold setting in, the shorter days, trees losing their leaves...something that leaves me wishing I was some sort of bear-like creature so I could eat a ton of food and take a 3-month nap without guilt or risk of judgement. In previous years, I dreaded this transition into the colder months and often dragged my feet passively as I waited for Spring. The problem with this, of course, is that I spent so much time grieving Summer and bracing myself for a grumpy Winter, that I missed everything Autumn had to offer me. Not this year. This year, I committed to building a beautiful life and to being present and engaged in everyday (even the damp, dark, cold ones). This year, my mother gave me a squash.

My typical response to this offering would have sounded something like “as if I’m going to find the time or energy to do something with this rock hard, oddly shaped, awkward-to-handle fruit...pout, pout, pout, I’m so cold and sad”. This year, however, I saw things differently, and thought about how incredibly awesome and beautiful it is that the Earth gave me everything I need to warm my belly, brighten my day, and lift my spirit, all in a butternut squash. I thought, “what a great opportunity to discover a new recipe, create a meal for friends, nourish my body, and, perhaps most importantly, celebrate this beautiful time of year”. So, in the interest of honouring my commitment to live gratefully and mindfully, I thanked my mother for the squash and began my search for the perfect recipe to highlight and complement its delicate flavours. I soon found a recipe for Butternut Squash Gnudi with Sage Butter and thought, “Woohoo! That sounds awesome!” Gnudi (meaning ‘nude’ in Italian) are basically dumplings similar to the filling of ravioli without the pasta shell (hence it’s name) and they are delicious. Plus, naked things always taste better ;)

The recipe below was adapted from the following website:

I used a browned butter instead because I thought caramelized butter would better complement the squash, nutmeg, and sage.

To start, I cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. This step requires a finesse and grace I did not genetically inherit or acquire in my thirty years and I nearly sliced my hand in half twice. Eventually, with the help of my friend, the squash was cut sort of in half. I brushed the “halves” with olive oil and placed them on a baking sheet in a 450 degree oven for just under an hour. The roasting squash filled my home with the lovely sweet scent of Fall and made me feel comforted and, admittedly, quite hungry.

Once the squash was sufficiently roasted (aka I could stick a knife in it and it would give it back), I removed it from the oven, let it cool, and scooped out its stringy fibres and seeds.  

I then mashed the squash into a puree with a fork (because I could not find my potato masher) and this took forever. I would recommend using a food processor or potato ricer if you have one, or trying to meditate while using a fork (I’ve heard that time can pass quickly when meditating so it might be worth a shot). What seemed like 27 hours later, I had pureed squash and I was ready to move on to the next step: adding all the other ingredients :)

I grated nutmeg over the puree and added the two eggs, salt and pepper. I added double the nutmeg because I thought it would taste better and, in my opinion, it was just the right amount, but of course, it’s up to you. I LOVE recipes that ask for grated nutmeg because I am convinced that the inside of a nutmeg seed is one of the most stunningly beautiful best-kept secrets of the culinary world.

So pretty!

Then I added the flour, little by little, and stirred the mixture with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture became doughy, I resisted my temptation to form sculptures, transferred it to a plate, and refrigerated it for two hours.

2 hours later...

Now came the tricky part...I had to brown the butter, boil the water, and form the dumplings all at the same time. I recommend first putting the water on to boil and then warming the butter in a separate pan once little bubbles form at the bottom of the water pot. This seemed to provide me with enough time to form the first batch of dumplings before the water boiled and allowed the butter to warm slowly and caramelize in time to fry the first batch of cooked dumplings.

I will say, these dumplings are not the most attractive looking food item. I imagine this is what a pumpkin turd would look like if pumpkins worked that way...but don’t worry, they are delicious!

Once the dumplings are in the boiling water, they only take about a minute to float to the top. They can then be transferred to the pan with the browned butter and sage leaves. I used a large pan so I didn’t have to work in batches once the gnudi were boiled. I just kept boiling gnudi and transferring them to the pan. Once all the gnudi were tossed in the butter, I simply transferred them to plates and graced them with some freshly grated parmesan.

YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This recipe is awesome and the gnudi were delicious. Butternut squash, nutmeg, butter, and sage, are a lovely combination of flavours and combine to create a meal that is perfect for Fall...delicate, warm, filling...comfort in a bowl.


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