I am noticing in myself a compulsion to bake, roast, (bake), broil, simmer, reduce, (bake) lately.
I am very cognizant of the fact that as the trees look somewhat lacklustre, somewhat skinny as their branches clack-clack against one another in the perpetual fall wind, that I experience a primal urge to invite warmth into my home, and an extra layer of fat and flannel onto my body.
There, I said it. I am a compulsive winter baker/eater and I blame nature/evolution, because this desire to comfort myself and others with food during the cold months is as uncontrollable and innate as my love for my daughter, my gravitation toward the water, and my quest to keep a good book on the night stand (and in my hand) at all times.
This gnocchi is the perfect reflection of my winter kitchen: the process of oven-softening and caramelizing hearty vegetables, rolling out thick lengths of pasta dough, squeezing roasted garlic out of crackling skin, and turning butter into a salty, nutty elixir is my idea of the perfect day. Add a cup of tea and the opportunity to curl my legs under me and drape a blanket-in-progress over my lap as I rhythmically slide bamboo needles through carded wool hoops, and I’m elated.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got cookies in the oven.
- 1 1lb butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cubed
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 3/4 cups (or more) all- purpose flour
- 1 bulb garlic, roasted in olive oil
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup salted pistachios
- Preheat your oven to 400F. Prepare the squash and place in a baking dish. Add the olive oil and toss to coat the squash. Cover with tin foil and roast until the squash is very tender.
- Allow the squash to cool completely and then process in a food processor until it is completely smooth.
- Add the rest of the gnocchi ingredients to the squash and mix. As the flour gets incorporated, a stiff dough will begin to form. As it does, turn the mixture out onto a well-floured countertop and knead until the dough is smooth.
- Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a long rope, about 3/4" thick, flouring your hands and your work surface as needed. Cut the dough into 1" long pieces. Place the pieces on parchment-covered baking sheets and refrigerate at least one hour.
- To cook the gnocchi, bring a pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil. Add the gnocchi into the water, a few at a time to prevent them from sticking together. Boil the gnocchi in two batches, also to prevent sticking. Once the gnocchi float to the top of the pot, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl.
- Place the butter in a wide, shallow saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. The butter will begin to brown and foam. Watch the butter carefully to avoid burning. When the butter has darkened to a deep caramel colour, remove from the heat.
- Place the garlic, butter and pistachios in the food processor and blend until well combined. Note: to serve, I reserved a bit of the butter and drizzled it on the gnocchi and the plate, but this is not necessary.
- Toss the gnocchi in the pesto and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.