Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Butternut Squash and Mascarpone Gnocchi – I Don’t Like Gnocchi, But I Love These!

When I tell people I don’t like gnocchi, I always have to clarify that I’m talking about the traditional, potato-dough style dumplings, and not the much easier and lighter, cheese-based versions, like this one featuring butternut squash and mascarpone cheese.

Unless created by the hands of a true master, traditional potato gnocchi are too often dense, gummy nuggets of disappointment. However, as temperamental as the classic recipe is, these cheesier, low-starch versions are really quite simple.

These are often made with drained ricotta, and you are welcome to substitute, but here we’re going with mascarpone, a very rich and luscious Italian-style cream cheese. Along with Parmigiano-Reggiano, all you need besides the cheese is some cooked squash, and just enough egg and flour to keep it all together.

Once your mixture is done, and you let it firm up overnight, you have a few options as far as final service. You can follow the spoon-boil-fry-serve method seen herein, or you can do the spoon-boil part ahead of time, and then fry in the sage butter when ready.

If you do want to make these ahead, simply fish them out of the boiling water as they’re cooked, draining well, and place on a plastic-wrapped sheet pan to cool. Once cooled to room temperature, they can be carefully wrapped up (in a single layer), and kept in the fridge for at least a day, until you’re ready to crispy up in the butter.

Either way, prepare your palate for some incredibly light, tender, and delicious gnocchi. You can use them for a first course, like I did here, or as a very special side dish to some roasted meat. I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!



Ingredients for about 12 appetizer-sized portions:
2 cups cooked butternut squash
1 cup mascarpone cheese, or cream cheese, goat cheese
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 oz (about 1/2 cup) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (if you’re going to use fake Parmesan cheese for this, don’t even bother)
1 packed cup all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter for frying, used in batches
cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup sliced sage leaves

View the complete recipe

56 comments:

DrEEE said...

A local restaurant here makes a similar pan-fried/browned gnocchi preparation. Thank you for demystifying it!

박진아 said...

These look soo delish :) Think I'll try it out!

I doubt you'd ever get to my no-body-comment, but I tried your chicken parm recipe and made it for my blog post :) Please check it out!

Stefan said...

Wow. Just wow. Can't wait to give this a try.

Chef John, could you please release a book or endorse some cheap steak knives? I'd feel better knowing that I could repay your efforts some way. Keep up the great work!

Diane said...

These look amazing. I'll have to make them sometime soon.

Building on hat Stefan said, I'm a student and just starting to build my kitchen set. I know whats most important is a good pan, and a good chef knife, I'm curious as to what you suggest :) So many claim to be the best, but it's awful advertising. I'm not so much concerned with a "cheap" kind, but something that's going to last me a long time and prove to be wonderful. Any suggestions for brand, or at least what to look for? It'd help me out a lot. Thank you :)

Chef John said...

I have a mish-mash of every brand and style of cookware, knives, etc. I hate to do recs since things change and I'm not up on the lastest stuff. Best to simply read all the Amazon reviews, and decide whats best. I've found that after hundreds of top reviews, it's a pretty safe buy. All the stuff in a price range is very similar.

Chef John said...

Yes, you can use cream cheese or goat cheese.

Dan said...

Looks awesome! Tomorrow's dinner...

Joel said...

People get so up in arms when recipes aren't the "authentic" version. You've simply created a better gnocchi!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! It will be my first time making gnocchi.

Rayann said...

Looks fantastic! Im definitely gonna try it.

Btw, can you please make Burek? I've been wanting to make it for a long time, but I really don't dare to.

Thanks a million!
Ray

Kurt said...

O.K., these were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G...........definitely company worthy. Served them with roasted Asparagus topped with a little lemon zest and Pine nuts. Also the fresh Parm.

rosemary said...

I was so excited when I saw the tease. You, my friend are one of the best things that ever happened to me!

Bret said...

Hi Chef,

Do you fry them in batches too? If so, how much butter/gnocchis per batch? I realize I'm being anal here but cut a guy some slack :)

Thanks,
Bret

Chef John said...

yes, you can fry in batches. Just use what you need, maybe 2-3 tbsps for a frying pan. Relax, this isn't a science. ;)

Tim Morris said...

Wow, great looking dish. I really liked your potato gnocchi video as well. Curious what makes a gnocchi a gnocchi - flour + egg + mystery ingredient?

Chef John said...

gnocchi is a shape, not a recipe ;-) Anything shaped and cooked as a little dumpling can be called a gnocchi.

Leslie said...

These gnocchi's are absolutely delicious. I have made several batches now and finally am getting the hang of it. I like a nice crispy outside layer, but found when I turned them, the outer layer was sticking to the pan. Problem solved by using my offset frosting spreader as a turner. It's got a very thin blade that easily slides under each one without disturbing its neighbor. Mine seem to be pretty fragile so a minimum of handling is best.

katefe said...

I'm not a cook, in fact kitchen is my worst enemy, but this Thanksgiving I'm hosting so I will make an attempt to try these out because they look so yummy and easy to make. Wish me luck- I'm going to the kitchen.

Alexf said...

Hey CHef John!!!

I love you and on Monday I made these to test for Turkey day. Is it ok if i still use the remaining batter from Monday tomorrow afternoon? also any tips on how to flatten them for easier frying?

Chef John said...

The batter usually turns grey and isn't quite as fresh tasting, so I would make a fresh batch.

Alexf said...

wow never expected a comment so fast, your the man!! any tips on my flattening question? its just because when i made them before they were all different shapes unlike yours

Thanks

Chef John said...

Don't flatten! They're fine!

Alexf said...

last question i promise, when making the batter can i put some sage in the batter without it being too overwhelming?

Alexf said...

sorry not sure if my last post worked, last post today i promise. can i put sage directly into the batter without it being too overwhelming?

Chef John said...

You can put it in the batter, but I can't tell you if it would be overwhelming since that would depend on the amount (which I can't give you since taste is subjective!)

katefe said...

Can I use olive oil instead of butter when I fry them?

Spot in Cyberspace said...

I've always wanted to try gnocchi and finally I have found a recipe worthy of effort...BUT...don't think I'll find butternut squash here (in Turkey). Do you think that pumpkin puree might be a good substitute?

Chef John said...

yes that will work! enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Followed the recipe exactly except that I used baked butternut squash from my freezer. The dough fell apart when it was dropped in the boiling water. I decided my squash had given off more liquid because it had been frozen, so I added another egg and another cup of flour (I was making 1.5X recipe). Probably could have used just another 1/2 c. flour, but I was trying to avert disaster as I had to serve them immediately for a dinner party. Worked great! Thanks for a great recipe we'll make again and again.

penwig said...

I usually don't post comments until I've made the recipe (a pet peeve - who cares if a reader thinks it "sounds good!" Pla-leeze! Anyway...I have to ask...do you think this would hold together if I used whole milk ricotta cheese (I'm an addict). I'll try it with marscapone first (God that sounds good), but don't want to waste my time with ricotta if you think it won't hold together. Please advise Chef John (I made chicken parmesan tonight - it was really good!)

Chef John said...

Yes, that will work!

Dennis Lyon said...

Hi, Chef John and folks! I am from Brazil and we don't have butternut squash here, so I substituted for Kabocha. Now, the final texture was less soft than I expected. What could be the thing? Too much flour? Or Kabocha itself? Actually, I didn't even have to keep it in the fridge, because the batter wasn't that soft in the end, even though I followed the measures exactly.

Chef John said...

Sorry but I have no idea! The sqaush would make no difference. If you added the same flour as we did then it should have been nice and soft like ours.

Anonymous said...

Could you fry in olive oil instead of butter?

Chef John said...

of course!

Sarah Montagna said...

What is the nutritional contents? Thank you

shirley said...

used find frozen butternut in veg section of most groceried but no more. K-mart fresh veg section had fresh butternut in steamer bags, and they were simply fantastic but can't find them anymore, could be the season or they didn't sell well. Organic food sections in Krogers carried frozen butternut, but then my Kroger stopped...anyway, the most economical way to get frozen butternut to wish as you wish is buy a big one, slow bake it whole, make sure you put it on something because juice seeps out during baking...put the amount needed in specific recipes in freezer bags for future use. This provides a quick stock for recipes that call for butternut squash, which has been a favorite since I was a small child, simply mashed, buttered, peppered and salted to you taste. I love the stuff and the dumplings were delicious. An alternative to butter or olive oil is cocconut oil, or almond oil

Anonymous said...

What kind of roasted meat particularly would you suggest?

Anonymous said...

Hi John! Greetings from Germany!

I just made this and it is heaven on a plate! Light and fluffy. Thank you for sharing this recipe. :-)

Would this method also work if potato is substituted for butternut squash for a more traditional gnocchi?

Thanks in advance!

Rosa

Chef John said...

Never tried, but could. Thanks!

charlesnakhleh said...

Another winner!
http://i44.tinypic.com/mvnsi8.jpg

Anonymous said...

any idea what I can use instead of squash? Don't really have good access to them but I love the idea of mascarpone and parmesan :D

Mothersbbq said...

I made this with a sugar glaze and it was like french toast. The kids loved it.

jackbox said...

I'm a big fan of Japanese sweet potatoes and have made gnocchi with butternut squash, conventional sweet potato, pumpkin, and Japanese sweet potato.. you know what? They all work amazingly well!

I love the versatility of Chef John's recopies. One of the biggest myths in modern society is that cooking difficult. But it is so easy and fun... esp. if you have access to a good markets.

Anonymous said...

I've only had gnocchi once and it was from a package in the store's freezer section. (Wasn't impressed.) Having that as my first impression, didn't leave me wanting to try any more anytime soon. Haha. However, when I watched this video... wow! Chef John makes it look amazing and easy! I had to cook them. Sadly, they didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped they would. They weren't awful. The flavor was actually wonderfully delicious! But the texture.. ungh. So mushy. They look so light and fluffy in the video. I must have done something wrong somewhere. (I suppose I am not a very skilled cook/chef. Still learning. Haha.) Maybe I made them too large. I'm not sure. =(

aperson said...

Do these taste a lot like squash? I love gnocchi and mascarpone but hate squash and need a good way to use some up. Thanks!

Cynthia Hunn said...

Dear chef John,
I'm a 14 year old passionate swiss cook and a huge fan of your's, and guess what?
It's half past one in the morning and i just couldn't sleep, so, as always, I started watching your videos. I was carving for something nice, and since I remembered that my mother had just boughten a nice peace of pumpkin and that we still had some leftover mascarpone (you pronounce the "e" with an "eh" sound, by the way:), I went down to the kitchen and dicided to make gnocchi and surprise my parents tomorrow! Thank you so much! You're such a huge inspiration! :)

Chef John said...

Thank you! You are a great daughter! :)

Erica said...

Chef John,

I am trying to do the low carb thing and this recipe is great except for the flour. Do you think something like an Atkins all purpose baking mix or coconut flour would work? This is a link to the Atkins: http://www.amazon.com/Atkins-All-Purpose-Bake-2-Pound/dp/B002JIO0RU/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1351468516&sr=8-4&keywords=atkins

Thanks! Erica

Chef John said...

sorry, no idea!

Holly J said...

Hi Chef John. I have made a number of your recipes and they have always come out excellent.

However, this one I really seemed to flub.

When I put the batter into the water it all separated and the water got all white and murky.

Any idea why?

Holly

Chef John said...

Sorry, I have no idea! I know the recipe works (as you saw in video) and I've also received many pictures of this dish from viewers. Did you measure everything right? Use same ing?

toonczyk said...

I have just made these, except I used ricotta cheese instead of mascarpone. For a moment there I got stressed out a little, because my dough was much softer than yours and shaping gnocchi was a bit difficult, but then I remembered gnocchi hate anxiety, so I relaxed.

They've ended up looking exactly as intended and the taste... just perfect! Amazing recipe, thank you.

lisa0116 said...

Chef John,
I made the mix up on Wednesday and kept in the fridge to cook up on Thursday/turkey day. They are wonderful!
I must confess though. I made a double batch..I share the food so needed a lot. I did the boil and then fry for over half of the two batches and then thought about trying them just frying them instead of boiling first. Well, the just fried ones turned out great. Could tell no difference in texture or taste. Just wanted to let you know that a huge part of the process can be cut out.
My grandma was a gourmet chef in NY and NJ back in her day...we ain't scared to try stuff down here. LOL! Grandma taught chef's how to cook. My mom cooks just like her. My mom loved these by the way..she wants more! LOL!

Lisa in Georgia

Bessevelt said...

I started working on the recipe, but I do not have any sage around. Any recommendations for other spices that would go well with the rest of the ingredients? i was thinking about going with ginger and cinnamon to go all holiday spice on it, but wondered if that would clash with the cheese flavors. Im not that experienced of a cook, but love adding spices when I can. Chef John, thank you so much for your videos. They are informative and entertaining.

T Gent said...

In Tuscany, we call a similar preparation gnudi', i.e. 'nakeds' (as in naked, but plural).
It's basically the classic ravioli filling of ricotta and spinach fried without its clothing of pasta, and served with butter and sage or maybe a ragù. I have heard of gnudi with wild boar ragù and feel like my whole life has been leading up to the moment when I will finally taste this dish.