Kabocha Squash Gnocchi

>>  Sunday, February 21, 2010

pan fried gnocchi
Kabocha has peaked my interesting lately.

There's been a lot of blog posts about kabocha squash  - from No Recipe's award winning kabocha pumpkin cream cake to Gourmet Fury's Canadian Chimichurri Pork Cheeks with Kabocha Parsnip Puree.  I've never had kabocha, so when I saw it in the local market about a month ago, I decided to pick one up.

I then proceeded to forget about it . . . for weeks.

The beauty of this squash is, it lasts forever.  So, even after several weeks, my squash was as good as new.  Inspired by a butternut squash gnocchi recipe from Saveur, I decided to try my own version using kabocha squash.  You won't believe how easy and how few ingredients it takes to make your own gnocchi!

Kabocha squash has a subtle sweet taste that sort of reminds me of chestnuts.  Its texture is relatively starchy and there's really not that much water content in the squash.  When roasting, it gives off an amazing aroma that fills up the entire house.  I love it.

The most time consuming part of this recipe is probably the baking of the squash. I did mine the night before, which made everything a lot easier the next day.  I wondered whether I could simplify this recipe immensely by microwaving cut-up squash.  However, since this was my first time cooking kabocha, I thought I should play by the rules.

Kabocha Squash Gnocchi
preparation time: 2 hours | serves 4
1 kabocha squash, baked
2 eggs
1 cup flour

Preparing the Squash
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut squash in half, slather the flesh with vegetable oil, and place the halves (facedown) in a baking pan.  Bake until soft, about 45 min to 1 h. Remove from oven and, when cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh. Transfer to a large bowl, add eggs, and mash together with a potato masher. Season to taste with salt, then work in flour to form a thick, soft dough.
Because kabocha squash is a pretty starchy squash, it does not give off much water, and therefore the gnocchi dough is surprisingly easy to handle.  I bet kabocha gnocchi is much easier to make than pumpkin gnocchi, which would probably yield a much wetter dough.

Working in portions, roll out the gnocchi into foot long "snakes" and cut them into bite size pieces.  Press the tines of a fork into each one to give it that characteristic gnocchi shape.
Kabocha Squash Gnocchi
At this point, you can freeze or refrigerate the gnocchi for future use.  Or you can either boil it or pan-fry it!
Of course, boiling is classic. Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add the gnocchi pieces (they should sink) and wait until they float.  Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.  Drain water, and serve with sauce.
pan fried gnocchi
Alternatively, pan-fried gnocchi tastes fantastic!  I love the crunchy outsides.  I personally thought the fried version tasted like . . uhh . . 10x better than the boiled version.  But then, when is something ever not better once it's been fried?  ;)

To pan fry, heat up a small amount of vegetable oil (or butter!  I did mixture of both) in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  Pan fry the gnocchi on one side for a few minutes until the edges are brown.  Flip over, and fry on the other side until browned.
pan fried gnocchi
That's it!  And enjoy while hot!  Honestly, you can just sprinkle some sea salt or truffle oil on top and it will taste absolutely fantastic!  Play around with different herbs.  I bet sage would be good.

Or you can pour a nice meat ragu over it (click over to the post here), and finish with some coarse sea salt and truffle oil.  This was really good!

Pan fried Gnocchi with Meat Ragu

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