“Let me make you something to eat.”

This is what I imagine every Italian grandmother might say upon guests arriving at her house, regardless of the guests’ hunger level.  I imagine this is what mine would say, too, if I knew her now.  I think she made a lot of good, heavy, Italian food, and I wish I knew.  Regardless, I will try to carry on my little sliver of Italian heritage in my own way, aside from expressing it with my hair arms and my propensity to [almost] get tan in the summer.  Here in Montana, and probably everywhere in the country, it is one of my favorite times of year:  SQUASH SEASON!  The green-striped golden delicata squash with its delicate, buttery taste is my favorite.  However, I just tried a buttercup squash this week, and it is a close second behind delicata squash.  Imagine the the tastes of a sweet potato, pumpkin, and delicata all blended into one creamy squash and you have the buttercup.  This week, I discovered that it is not only delectable for eating roasted, mashed, and eaten plain with a bit of salt, but it is also perfect for making gnocchi!

What the heck is gnocchi anyway?  Gnocchi is a pasta, almost like small dumplings, that is traditionally made with a potato dough.  It’s great for vegans because you don’t have to make it with eggs.  It’s just potato, flour, salt, and oil, although I think some people make it with eggs and butter.  It is certainly a carb bomb and I think it could be part of a quintessential (& occasional) autumn or winter meal.  You know, the kind of meal, that just makes you want to do little else but take a snooze afterwards.  ‘Tis the season.

Also, now that it’s soup season, here’s a sustainable living tip:  Instead of tossing your carrot and onion ends, herb stems, and other less palatable pieces of vegetables into the compost, collect them in a large jar kept in the refrigerator.  When the jar is full, empty those scraps into a large stock pot, add a quart of water, and simmer.  You’ve got yourself some homemade broth!  Now, you can compost those scraps.  🙂  Note:  Do NOT add scraps from members of the cabbage family (beets, broccoli, kale, etc) as they have an overpowering effect in broth and smell like…methane.

O, Broth, where art thou? Hopefully not heading to your compost bin (yet)!

To begin, I cut the buttercup squash into two halves, removed the seeds, and placed them cut side down in a baking dish with about 1/2 inch-3/4 inch of water.  I baked the squash in a 400 °F oven for about an hour.  Then I scooped out the roasted flesh and mashed it.

Buttercup Squash Gnocchi:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked, mashed buttercup squash
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups unbleached, white all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • extra flour

Directions:

1)  Fill a large stock pot with water and heat until boiling.  Add a bit of oil to water to prevent pasta from sticking together.

2)  In a large bowl, combine mashed squash, olive oil, and salt until well blended.

3)  Add the flour 1/4 cup at a time to squash mixture and knead until the dough no longer sticks to your hands.  Do NOT overmix as pasta will become too chewy.

4)  Roll handfuls of dough into 3/4 inch diameter ropes on floured surface.  Cut of 1/2 -3/4 inch pieces, depending on the size you like your pasta.  Roll piece into ball in your palm.  Flatten ball with the back tines of fork and roll off fork.  Wait until you have about ten pieces.  Toss into boiling water and when pieces float to the top, skim out with slotted spoon.  Does this make sense?  Here is how another person does the gnocchi fork roll.

5)  Top with your favorite sauce!  I used a garlic leek cream sauce!  Mmm…

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