Thursday, December 23, 2010

A restaurant favorite - at home

By Helen Klein

The other evening, I had an especially amazing pasta dish -- freshly made tortelli topped with little cubes of butternut squash in a sauce of butter and truffle oil -- when I shared dinner with a friend at Williamsburg’s Il Passatore.

Since I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I decided to try and recreate it, sort of -- a challenge since I didn’t have most of the main ingredients.

But, that didn’t stop me. Since I didn’t have any stuffed pasta, and I wasn’t about to make any, I turned to a package of gnocchi on my pantry shelf that was just waiting for its moment in the sun. And, needless to say, I didn’t have any truffle oil.

I also didn’t have butternut squash, but I did have a bright orange farm-fresh acorn squash, and fresh garlic, and a bristling bunch of basil, green and gorgeous.

So, last night, I turned my oven on high and began roasting the squash and the garlic, contemplating the latter as the base for a creamy sauce to bathe and embrace the gnocchi.
What I ended up with was a sauce that salutes pesto, with back notes of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, but replaces the strident notes of raw garlic with the soft sweetness of roasted garlic. A handful of chopped walnuts tossed with the gnocchi, sauce and squash chunks reinforced the resemblance to pesto, while also contributing a pleasing crunch to the finished dish, which was satisfying without being cloying, and warming on a windy evening.

Spinach Gnocchi with squash
Serves four as a light main dish

17 oz. package of spinach gnocchi
3-5 tbl. extra virgin olive oil
1 head garlic
1/2 acorn squash, seeds and strings removed, and brushed lightly with olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Wrap garlic in small piece of aluminum foil. Roast garlic and squash in preheated 450 oven, till garlic is soft and pops right out of its skin, about half an hour, and till squash is tender when pierced with a knife, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Squeeze garlic from skins when it’s cool enough to handle and purée in a food processor with 1/4 tsp. of salt, grated Parmesan and 1/4 cup chopped basil, adding enough olive oil to make a creamy sauce. Set aside.

Cut squash into 1/4-inch wide strips, peeling the skin from each and cutting into small chunks. Set aside.

Cook gnocchi in salted water according to package directions. When gnocchi is tender, drain and toss with sauce, squash chunks, nuts and reserved basil leaves, adding salt and pepper to taste.


Copyright © 2009 All rights reserved

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP