This is another Val’s original. The recipe is a celebration of my favourite season (autumn, duh) and also a gift for my gnocchi-obsessed friend Jessie, who is half woman, half gnocchi at this point.
Just to highlight my fearless approach to cooking, I will say that Butternut Squash is one of my cooking nemeses: it’s not particularly hard to cook (as a matter of fact, it’s almost foolproof) but peeling the bloody thing can often be very hard work and I don’t have enough pent-up anger to deal with the rock-hard texture of its skin. But don’t let that put you off cooking this - the result is 100% worth it.
I anticipate this to be an absolute hit among my dinner-party guests this fall (ok calm down Martha Stewart, everyone knows my table can’t fit more than four people). Full recipe on my blog.
Ingredients for 2
1 Large Butternut Squash, halved
2 Cloves of Garlic, Whole
1 Bunch of Fresh Sage
1 Bag of Gnocchi (approx 300g)
1 Large Knob of Butter
1 Mozzarella Ball or Smoked Scamorza (80g), cubed
1 Generous amount of Parmesan Cheese, grated
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Pine Nuts or Walnuts
Truffle Oil (optional)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Wash the Butternut squash on the outside (don’t question me, just do it), cut it in half (lengthwise) and remove the seeds and stringy nasty bits.
Place the two halves, cut side up, in a roasting tin. Brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, a generous amount of sage leaves and add two whole garlic cloves, skin on, to the tin.
Roast for 45 minutes or until fork tender. If it takes longer to cook and you’re concerned about the surface burning, cover with some tin foil after 40 minutes.
While the squash is in the oven - cook the gnocchi according to package instructions. Melt a knob of butter in a large skillet/non-stick pan. Add the cooked gnocchi and cook for 3-4 minutes on a medium/high flame until they have a golden exterior. Reserve.
Once the squash is ready - scoop up some of the flesh but be careful to leave some in the shell to leave the structure of the squash intact. Remove the skin from one of the roast garlic cloves and add it to the scooped up flesh. Blitz with a hand mixer or a fork (add a little hot water or stock if it’s looking dry) to make a puree.
Mix the cooked gnocchi with the squash puree, half of the cubed mozzarella and a generous amount of grated parmesan cheese.
Place the gnocchi into the carved up squash halves, add the remaining cubed cheese, another sprinkling of parmesan, some sage leaves (or strips) and a handful of pine nuts on top. Return to the oven, in grill mode, for 5-7 minutes (until the cheese becomes golden).
Take it out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. If you have some truffle oil at hand - feel free to use it in this recipe. It goes really well with this dish, just a few drops on topi - but don’t overdo it, that stuff is expensive and we’re in a recession, Melinda.
Serve with a green salad. Or don’t - it’s your business. Enjoy!
N.b This is a vegetarian recipe, but if you’re in a meaty mood - sausage meat or pancetta could easily be incorporated into this.