Sunday, January 27, 2013

Food Swap: Homemade Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Our food swap group had a bit of an extended hiatus (what's a food swap? check this post out)... people just got busy, and I was not up for organizing for a while, so it's been since May. But I have missed them terribly, and so I resolved to get the ball rolling again this year. I hosted this time, and we had a lot of new people join in. I love meeting new people, seeing people from various areas of my life mingle and meet each other, and just watching the community grow.

The spread was wonderful and ran the gamut of sweet to savory, garden goodies, fully cooked entrees, salads, condiments, and appetizers and snacks. I was very happy with my booty, and as I'm hosting a girl's night happy hour in a couple of nights with some good friends, some of this is going to be perfect (and saves me having to go to the store and make stuff).

My booty: chocolate-peanut butter cups & ginger biscuits, chicken liver pate, lettuce plants, candied cinnamon apples, homemade mayo, Swiss chard, mini carrots, hummus, chopped salad, chicken and dumplings, coconut chips

Here are some of the lovely items that were up for grabs:

chicken liver pate
vegan chocolate-peanut butter cups and ginger biscuits
2 flavors of caramelized coconut chips (curry and cinnamon)
3 flavors of homemade mayonaisse
Bibb lettuce plants and fruit salad (made by one of the kid swappers)
hummus, beets, and Swiss chard
7-layer dip (made by another kid swapper), backyard eggs, and mini carrots
chopped salad, curly and flat-leaf parsley, Swiss chard

I traded several jars of pickled beets and some homemade butternut squash gnocchi. I'd made pumpkin gnocchi for a swap a while back. I had to fudge that recipe a bit, so this time I just started from scratch and kept tabs on my ingredients as I went. It went much more smoothly. I don't bake a lot compared to how much I cook, but I really like making homemade pasta. It's like the best kind of edible play-doh there is. I really want to start making some with the kids; I think they'd dig it, especially if I pull out the pasta press.

butternut squash gnocchi, frozen and ready to swap

Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Yield: about 9 dozen
  • 4 C butternut squash purée
  • 5 1/2 C+ flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

In a large bowl (note: you'll want one larger than the one pictured above), combine the purée, eggs, and 2 C of flour by hand. Once it is combined add additional flour 1 C at a time until the dough is elastic and only slightly sticky (see photo below). The amount of flour may vary depending on the water content of your squash, so be sure not to dump it all in at once. You may need less than 5 1/2 C, you may need more.

Once the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead for an additional 10 minutes, adding more flour and scraping up any parts that have stuck to the counter as needed.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes. Clean your work surface and go do something else for a bit.

Unwrap the dough and very lightly sprinkle it and the work surface with flour. With a large knife, cut a row about 1/2" thick from the dough and gently roll it with your hands into an evenly proportioned rope, pressing the ends in to keep them from tapering too much. Cut it into 1" sections.

Use a fork to make indentations along 1 edge of each piece and transfer them to a cookie sheet, being careful that they don't touch.

Repeat until all the dough has been used. Once a cookie sheet has been filled, place it in the freezer. Freeze the gnocchi for two hours, then transfer them to freezer safe bags.

To cook them just bring water to a boil and toss in the gnocchi. When they float they are ready. You can pair these with vegetables or meat or eat on their own with your favorite sauce.

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