'Honeynut' squash adds a sweetness to this gnudi dish. Bottarga, almost like a Parmesan, adds an umami flavor.
'Honeynut' Squash Gnudi
Servings: 4 to 6
- 3 'Honeynut' squash (about 3 pounds), stems removed and sliced in half lengthwise
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil for coating
- 2 pounds savoy spinach, blanched and rung dry of excess moisture
- 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- ½ cup Parmesan, finely grated, plus more to taste
- Zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ teaspoon finely grated fresh nutmeg
- Sea salt
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups all-purpose whole-wheat flour, sifted, plus ¼ cup more if needed
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- ½ cup good-quality chicken stock
- 4 cups kale (small, tender leaves or larger leaves, torn into bite-size pieces)
- ½ cup Pepper Condimento,Â see below
- Finely grated †˜Honeynut' Squash "Bottarga," optional,Â see below
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds sweet peppers (such as bell) and hot peppers (such as jalapeÁ±o or serrano), trimmed, seeds removed, and cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
- ½ cup local honey, plus more to taste
- Garum* (an anchovy-based, Italian fish sauce) or Thai fish
1. Place squash halves on a paper towel†“lined baking sheet and coat cut sides heavily with kosher salt. Let squash stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Brush off any remaining salt and blot moisture with paper towels.
2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Lightly coat cut sides of squash with olive oil and place, cut sides down, on tray. Roast until a paring knife easily pierces the tough skin, 30 to 40 minutes. Allow squash to cool, then scoop out flesh into a colander; press flesh to remove excess liquid.
3. In a food processor, purée squash into a fine paste and transfer to a large mixing bowl; set aside. Add blanched spinach to food processor and purée. Keep 1 cup puréed spinach in food processor (refrigerate any leftovers for another use); add ricotta, ¼ cup Parmesan, lemon zest, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon sea salt and purée until incorporated. Stop the machine and add eggs, pulsing until barely mixed, then add to bowl with reserved squash. Using your hands, work the squash into mixture until thoroughly combined and uniform. Gently fold in flour; if dough feels wet, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, up to ¼ cup. Transfer to a medium bowl and press a sheet of plastic wrap on top of dough.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Lightly oil a baking sheet and set aside. Using two spoons, scoop up a small dumpling-shaped amount of gnudi dough and release it into boiling water. Repeat, adding several gnudi at a time, and cook until gnudi float to the surface of the water, 5 to 6 minutes. Using a large slotted spoon, drain gnudi and transfer to reserved baking tray; cover with a lightly oiled piece of foil. Repeat until all gnudi are cooked.
5. In a large skillet over high heat, combine butter, garlic, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently. Once butter begins to brown and garlic becomes fragrant, remove pan from heat and add chicken stock, gently swirling pan to emulsify browned butter. Return pan to high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add kale, cooking until wilted. Add ½ cup Pepper Condimento and stir to combine. Add reserved gnudi and return sauce to a boil in order to coat pasta. Remove pan from heat and add remaining ¼ cup Parmesan. Add more cheese and/or salt to taste. Top with finely grated †˜Honeynut’ Squash “Bottarga,” if desired.
Preheat a large stainless-steel pot over high heat. Carefully pour olive oil into pot; add peppers and salt. Sauté peppers over high heat until tender and soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice, honey, and garum to taste. Return pan to stovetop and bring mixture to a boil. Cook until most liquid has evaporated, 5 to 6 minutes. Taste peppers and adjust seasoning (lemon, honey, garum) to achieve a pleasing balance of sweet, sour, and salty. Once mixture has cooled, place in an airtight jar and refrigerate for up to 6 weeks.
*Buy Garum Colatura, an Italian fish sauce, at zingermans.com; 100-milliliter bottle for $16
‘Honeynut Squash Bottarga
Because of the drying time required, this simple recipe takes roughly a month to complete. But the resulting “bottarga,” which has a salty, umami flavor similar to Parmesan, is worth the effort, especially for vegan cooks. Use it grated over raw vegetables, casseroles, pizza, and pasta dishes.
Peel 2 ‘Honeynut’ or butternut squash, leaving stems intact. Cut squash necks from seed cavities and reserve squash flesh for another use. Fill a resealable, gallon-size plastic bag with a few cups of kosher salt, then place peeled squash necks with stems attached upright in bag; fill with more salt to completely cover. Allow squash to rest at room temperature in a cool, dark place for two days. Remove squash from salt; rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. Wrap each squash neck in cheesecloth, using butcher’s twine to secure cloth around stem end of squash. Hang squash in a warm, dry place and allow to air dry for three to four weeks. Store dried, cheesecloth-wrapped squash in an air-tight container for up to two months. To serve, finely grate desired quantity of “bottarga” from the dried squash.