Aphorisms from the Professor: Brillat-Savarin

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Adventures in Gnocchi

Tonight we were adventurous. Generally when faced with squash (or any root vegetable for that matter) my boyfriend's first instinct is to chop and roast (often with lots of garlic, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup). While the end result is always delicious, I decided it was time to spice things up. The starting point was a recipe from our CSA for an acorn squash gnocchi. Since this was my idea, aside from a few technical tasks (like "rescuing" the gnocchis with a spatula once they started to float), I was the gnocchi-chef.

We made the following changes or substitutions:
- butternut squash instead of acorn squash
- we didn't have sage, so instead we used a combination of tarragon and thyme
- all-purpose flour instead of whole-wheat flour. We also ended up using between 1/2 a cup and 1 cup more flour than the recipe called for because our dough wasn't getting into any kind of form we could remotely roll (we didn't think this would be a problem since butternut squash are generally larger than acorn squash)
- salted butter instead of unsalted butter
- pecorino instead of parmesean
- we also added some ricotta to the sauce and dried parsley to garnish

I have to say that cutting the gnocchi dough was highly satisfying - they truly felt like little pillows of goodness. Unfortunately, despite that light texture prior to cooking, in the end they turned out quite dense and heavy. They tasted good, the texture just wasn't right (although every once in a while one of us would get one that was "close").

We have narrowed the problem down to one of the following:
1) The extra flour in the dough
2) Not adding another egg despite adding more flour and potentially having more squash
3) My rolling technique
4) Not removing the gnocchi soon enough after floatation was achieved (maybe this is why every now and then we came across a better gnocchi?)

The Complete Meal:

Pork chop topped with raw apple & fennel slaw
Butternut squash gnocchi with beer butter sauce

Despite the issues with the gnocchi, what was nice about this meal was that the flavors from all the components went well together - the pork tasted great in the butter sauce, and the apple was delicious with the gnocchi. In fact, we saved the leftover apple and fennel slaw to eat with the leftover gnocchi.


  1. This meal sounds like it was fun to prepare!!
    I'll go with the extra flour as the error in the gnocchi

  2. I think you're right. The recipe we were using was pretty vague, and we weren't sure what was meant by "manageable texture" - now we know this means "the second you think you could MANAGE to roll this very very very sticky stuff!"