Califonia Bountiful
Side Dish

Kabocha squash gnocchi with brown butter and sage

Gnocchi is one of chef Becky Reams' favorite pastas to make: "You don't need any special equipment to prepare them, and the final texture of these little savory pillows is divine. They're also very engaging to make, as you're forming them with your hands, so it's a great activity to make with friends or family."

Chef Becky Reams

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1 1/2 lb. kabocha or butternut squash
1 1/2 lb. russet potatoes
1 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 whole egg, plus 2 egg yolks
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus additional to taste
1 1/2 lb. unsalted butter
Large bunch of fresh sage leaves
1 lemon, cut into wedges
6 oz. aged gouda or Parmesan, grated


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Lay cut side down on a baking sheet with whole, unpeeled potatoes. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.

Remove from oven and scoop tender flesh out of squash and potatoes, discarding skin. Using a ricer, rice potatoes and squash onto a large, clean work surface dusted with flour. Crack eggs over the top, sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt, then dust the whole mound with flour. Start with 1 cup flour and add more as you mix the dough. Using your hands and a bench scraper, slowly begin mixing dough and folding it onto itself. (If you don't have a bench scraper, you can use your hands only, moving the dough gingerly to avoid getting clumps between your fingers.) It will be shaggy to begin with, but will eventually form a cohesive dough. Add more flour as needed if it's too sticky. Try not to overwork dough. Knead just enough to get it to come together.

Separate dough into quarters and roll out each portion into a long dowel, 3/4 inch in diameter. Use a knife to cut each piece into 1-inch-long pieces (each piece should be about half the size of your thumb). Using the tines of a fork (or a gnocchi rolling board, if you have one), roll each gnocchi along the tines of the fork to form ridges in the pasta, pressing down as you go. Allow each piece to fall onto a floured tray until you have all gnocchi rolled out.

Heat a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and gently drop 10 to 15 gnocchi at a time into the water to poach for 3 to 4 minutes. They will float to the surface when done. Remove with a slotted strainer and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add 4 tbsp. butter. Whisk and stir butter as it bubbles and sizzles, and allow butter to begin to brown. You'll notice a warm, nutty aroma, which is the scent of the milk solids in the butter caramelizing. Add a handful of poached gnocchi and 5 to 6 leaves of picked sage, and fry for a few minutes, stirring to allow gnocchi to brown on the sides. Season with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Repeat process until all gnocchi have been browned and seasoned.

Remove gnocchi to serve, finishing with a heaping amount of gouda or Parmesan.

Serves 6

Photo: © 2020 Becky Reams

Kitchen hack: Browning butter
"Browning butter gently in a sauté pan is a great way to add another level of complexity to many dishes that call for butter. It can be made in large batches, then cooled and stored in the fridge to use later."

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