Winter squash gnocchi with meat sauce
Pumpkin or other winter squashes are used as a filling for ravioli and other stuffed pastas all over Italy. In the frasche, or informal farmhouse restaurants, of Friuli, they are sometimes made into hearty gnocchi.
- 1 small acorn or butternut squash, 1 to 11⁄2 pounds/500 to 750 grams, quartered and seeded
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup/125 grams flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1⁄2 pound/250 grams ground/minced pork
- 1⁄2 pound/250 grams ground/minced veal
- 2 or 3 chicken livers, trimmed and minced
- 3 cups/720 milliliters tomato sauce, homemade or commercial
Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C/gas 5. Put the squash, cut side up, into a baking pan and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake until soft, about 1 hour. Remove the squash from the oven. When it is cool enough to handle, scrape out the flesh into a sieve and, with the back of a wooden spoon, press out as much liquid as possible. Put the squash into a large bowl, add the eggs and plenty of salt, and mash with a fork or a potato masher. Add the flour and work it into the mixture to form a thick, soft dough. (Add a bit more flour if the dough doesn’t stick together.) Generously dust a work surface with flour. Using a tablespoon, form the dough into oval gnocchi, putting them on the floured surface as they are formed. Let them sit while you proceed to the next step. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, pork, veal, and chicken livers, break up the ground meats with a wooden spoon, and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and the meats are browned, about 20 minutes. Drain the onion mixture in a colander or sieve, then return it to the frying pan and add the tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes more. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Working in batches, add the gnocchi to the pot and cook until they rise to the surface, 1 to 2 minutes. As the gnocchi are done, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a warmed serving bowl. When all the gnocchi are cooked, spoon the sauce over them, but do not toss.