Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Don't Gnocchi It If You Haven't Tried It

A few months ago, a conversation with the incomparably sassy Spicyflower led to a discussion of different ways of serving a new recipe I'd found for butternut squash gnocchi.

Seeing as how I'd picked up a large butternut squash at last weekend's farmers' market, and seeing as how the lovely Phoenix had time to learn something new, last night we tested the recipe.

And the votes are in: All thumbs UP for this one!

Though I baked the squash and started one sauce before Phoenix and Mr. Nice Guy arrived, Phoenix had the thrill of pureeing the squash through my old-fashioned cone sieve. We mixed up the dough and boiled the freeform dumplings while I finished one sauce and heated another. Finally, when all the gnocchi were cooked, we quickly steamed kale from my garden and spinach from the market to go with our homemade pasta.

So picture this: a bed of fresh steamed greens, a handful of creamy peach-colored butternut squash gnocchi, and then your choice of two sauces -- the first sauce, a lovely soy bechamel, contained carmelized onions and garlic and a hint of rosemary, while the second sauce took spaghetti sauce (a basic marinara) and added cinnamon and nutmeg for a more exotic flavor.

Both sauces worked well with the gnocchi, which were a little on the bland side, though the squash flavor came through reasonably well. But I think my happy taste testers preferred the onion bechamel... as did I.

In keeping with the theme of National Organic Harvest Month, here's the tally on this dinner:

For the gnocchi: the squash was organic AND locally grown, the eggs were locally-produced (free-range, not certified organic but probably close), the flour was organic, the spices... who knows?

For the sauce: the marinara was store-bought organic; the onions and garlic in the bechamel were organic and locally grown, the flour and olive oil and soy milk were organic.

And the greens were both organic and locally grown. So... another good meal for the month!

We saved just a corner of space in our full bellies for slices of homemade pumpkin-walnut torte (more on that once I work out the final version of the recipe), chock full of walnuts and weighted down with a too-buttery frosting. (Flavor was good... but the frosting is a bit overpowering.)

Phoenix and Mr. Nice Guy stayed to do the dishes for me (hooray!) while I kicked back a little bit...

And contemplated what I'll do with the remaining gnocchi.

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