Friday, February 20, 2015

Gnocchi With Sausage, Butternut Squash & Spinach


Okay friends, you'll soon notice that I have a very intense love of squash!  I often cook with a few varieties, namely zucchini, yellow summer, butternut and spaghetti squashes.  And maybe it's because of a long-standing mental association, but because of their summer/winter classifications I do tend to use them in noticeably different ways.  

Zucchini and yellow squash are summer varieties and I typically treat them as such.  I usually pair them up with light, delicate ingredients and sauces. Spaghetti squash is classified as a winter squash, but for my taste it's a very mild, mellow ingredient and I love to make light summer meals with it. A favorite simple dinner of mine is skillet casserole with roasted, shredded spaghetti squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and lots of cheese, but that is for another post! 


Butternut squash is also a variety of winter squash. It's a distinct, rich fruit that definitely works well in a tossed, green salad. But, I think it needs to be in the company of other wholesome and hearty ingredients to be rightly complemented.  

I've made this recipe that I'm sharing a few times before, but I normally use fresh pumpkin. I absolutely love to make savory casseroles and stews with the pie pumpkins that are readily available in the fall, but there are no pumpkins to be found in Texas in February! I was craving this gnocchi dish and figured butternut squash would be a perfect substitute for pumpkin. 

If you haven't tried roasted pumpkin or butternut squash, I highly recommend them both and this warm skillet casserole will get you off to a good start! 



Gnocchi with Sausage, Butternut Squash & Spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped or diced
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, cleaned and cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 container (32 oz) chicken or vegetable stock or broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 package of potato gnocchi (17.5 oz)
  • 5 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan-romano cheese
  • salt & pepper

1.  In a very large, deep skillet, warm the oil.  Add the sausage, garlic, and onion.  Continue to break down the sausage with a spatula.  

2. Once the sausage is starting to look just cooked through, add the squash to the pan. Cover, stirring occasionally for about 6-7 minutes.  

3.  Pour in enough liquid stock to completely cover all the ingredients in the pan.  Add the sage and the parsley. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the pieces of squash are fork tender.

4.  Add the gnocchi and allow to simmer until gnocchi are fluffy and tender.  (The gnocchi will soak up most of any excess liquid so add stock if needed.) Turn off the heat.  Gently fold in the baby spinach by the handful.  Stir in the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Serve with some buttery bread and enjoy!

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