Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Kale-Walnut Pesto

© Flickr creative commons user  rickinazaki"     Recipe by Suzannah Schneider

© Flickr creative commons user rickinazaki"

Recipe by Suzannah Schneider

Tip: Make the pesto first so that it’s ready to go when your gnocchi is piping hot and fresh.

Kale Walnut Pesto:
3 cups chopped kale
¾ cup chopped raw walnuts
1 garlic clove, smashed
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the walnuts and gently shake until toasted, about 3 minutes.
2. Finely chop the garlic clove in a food processor. Add the kale, ½ cup of the toasted walnuts and cheese and pulse until roughly chopped. With the food processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream. Add 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice.
3. Taste the pesto before you add any salt! It will already be pretty salty from the cheese. Add black pepper to taste.

1 large butternut squash
1 cup of whole-milk ricotta, drained
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¾ finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon white pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and place the cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast the squash until tender, about 1 hour.
3. Once cooled, scoop out the squash, discarding the skin, and puree until smooth in a food processor.
4. Transfer the squash to a saucepan and cook over medium heat, sitting constantly, until liquid evaporates and the puree thickens.
5. Once the squash cools, place into a cheesecloth and squeeze out the remaining liquid. Then chill in the refrigerator. This should equal 2 cups of puree.
6. Place ricotta in a cheesecloth and squeeze out the liquid, then chill in the refrigerator. A note: remove as much liquid from the squash and ricotta as possible.
7. In a large bowl, lightly fold the butternut squash, ricotta, parmesan, egg, nutmeg, white pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt with a spatula. Gradually and gently fold in 1 2/3 cups of flour, a 1/3 at a time, taking care not to overwork the dough. Be gentle! In the bowl lightly flour the dough and cover the bowl with a dishtowel, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
8. To form the gnocchi: Flour your hands and the work surface lightly. Tear off a piece of dough about the size of your fist, returning the remaining dough to the refrigerator while you work. 
9. There are many ways to shape your gnocchi: Using a gentle back-and-forth motion, roll out the piece of dough into a rope about the thickness of your fore finger and cut the rope into 1-inch pieces. Then proceed on
- Using the 1-inch pieces as is
- Using a floured gnocchi board or a fork, lightly press with your thumb and roll the gnocchi to form ridges
- Roll the dough lightly between your palms to make a chestnut size ball
- Use wooden cooking molds to create beautifully designed gnocchi. Be sure to flour the cookie molds and press lightly into the board.

10. Transfer gnocchi to a lightly floured baking sheet and chill the gnocchi in the refrigerator while you boil a large pot of well-salted water.

11. Add the gnocchi in batches, and cook until they float to the surface and then remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon. Drain off any excess water and reserve the pasta water to thin out your pesto if needed.  Toss the pesto with the gnocchi, garnishing with the remaining walnuts

Adapted from Edible East End