There are many new seasonal ingredients available at the market, but the one that really represents Thanksgiving season to me is butternut squash. The color of this versatile veggie embodies the fall and the flavor is sweet with a slightly nutty taste.
I love butternut squash in pasta dishes, so today I sautéed whole wheat gnocchi in butter and garlic, tossed in a molasses-roasted butternut squash and finished the gnocchi dish with store-bought butternut squash pasta sauce. This special sauce was the winner of the best pasta sauce at the New York Fancy Food Show in 2009. I received it from our friend Dave of DavesGourmet.com. This exquisite sauce is made with squash ripened in Oregon's Willamette Valley and contains fresh garlic, onions and roasted bell peppers. Dave's Gourmet is going to be part of almost $1,000-worth of giveaways to Pham Fatale readers in the month of December. I’ll introduce some of the wonderful products that await you over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!
Servings: 8 servings
1 butternut squash
1 tablespoon dark molasses
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup olive oil
1 (16-ounce) package whole wheat gnocchi pasta, store-bought
1 (25.5-ounce) jar butternut squash pasta sauce (see tips)
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1-½ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
4 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
4 tablespoons sliced almonds, slightly toasted
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly shredded
Roasting the butternut squash:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Peel and dice the butternut squash into 2" cubes. In a bowl, toss the diced butternut squash in molasses, nutmeg, salt, pepper and 3 tablespoons olive oil.
Brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Place the butternut squash pieces without crowding them. Roast for 30 minutes, until golden brown and softened. Let cool. Cut each piece in half; this will add flavor and chunkiness to the gnocchi.
Cooking the gnocchi:
Add a large amount of salted water to a pot and bring to a boil (you always need a large amount of water. when boiling pasta, even for gnocchi!). Add the gnocchi, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. Cook the pasta for about 3-4 minutes total until the gnocchi float to the surface.
Meanwhile, in a large non-stick sauté pan, heat the rest of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until slightly golden. Add 2 tablespoons butter. Add the shallot and cook until softened. Using a slotted spoon, as soon as the gnocchi float to the surface of the other pot, drain and transfer them to the pan. Toss the gnocchi by moving the pan in a circular motion (the pan should be lifted in a low angle to facilitate the movement). Season with salt and pepper. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add a little pasta water. Transfer to a large serving platter. Set aside.
In the same pan, add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add the oven-roasted butternut squash. Toss well for about 1 minute. Add the butternut squash pasta sauce, cover and turn the heat down to a gentle simmer for about 3 minutes, so the sauce is warm.
Return the gnocchi back to the pan. Adjust seasoning. Add more salt if necessary.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and slightly toasted sliced almonds.
Garnish with fresh dill.
You could replace the butternut squash with pumpkin, acorn squash, sweet potatoes or your favorite fall vegetable.
You could modify the flavor of the dish by replacing the molasses with honey, pure cane sorghum or maple syrup.
You can order the butternut squash pasta sauce directly from Dave's Gourmet store. I will post other recipes using his amazing gourmet sauces soon. Stay tuned!
You don't have to add the sliced almonds but I think they add a pleasant crunch to the dish.
For a vegan version, simply substitute extra-virgin olive oil for the butter and Parmesan cheese.