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