Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cooking with kids - Butternut Squash Gnocchi alla Romana

I had half of a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin left in my fridge, and I needed a recipe.  Flipping through one of my Italian cookbooks, I came across a recipe for Gnocchi alla Romana, a recipe I love but is a bit low on nutrition, and thought - hey!  I bet I can find a recipe for Gnocchi alla Romana made with winter squash.  And find it I did.  So I decided to make it for dinner tonight.

Here is the basic recipe that I used, and I didn't make any major changes.  My best idea was to involve the kids, which probably would have been even more successful if Tadpole weren't sick.  Poor little baby.  She keeps getting fevers, and it's starting to worry me.

I cut my pumpkin into thin slices, scooped out the seeds, brushed it with olive oil and popped it into the oven on a baking sheet.  Then I went to do our naptime routine, which took longer than I thought, so my pumpkin slices got a little burned and I had to salvage what I could, which turned out to be just enough.  In the future, if I were short on time, I would consider either using canned pumpkin or frozen butternut squash chunks which I would then roast.  I know my food co-op sometimes has roasted squash in the hot food bar, too, which would be a nice short-cut.

At that point, Turtle woke up, so he helped me.  He is a big helper in the kitchen.  We put the squash in the blender with some of the milk from the recipe (this type of pumpkin seems to be stringy, so I hesitated to put it in the gnocchi without blending it first), and I let him push the buttons to blend it.  Then, following the recipe, we heated the milk, water, salt, and pumpkin in a pot on the stove, gradually added the semolina flour, and whisked until it thickened, which happened almost immediately.

During this process, Turtle put his hand on the stove, and started screaming.  I don't think he actually burned himself (if you look at his hand now, you can't tell that he touched anything hot), but I'm guessing it was still hot enough to be painful.  He actually said "the stove is hot!" as he was putting his hand down, much too quickly for me to stop him.  I hope it's a lesson learned - usually he's really good around the stove and listens to me when I warn him that something is hot.

I found the gnocchi mixture cooked much faster than the recipe claimed, so after only about 5-10 minutes, I pressed it out onto parchment-paper-covered baking sheets and they went into the fridge for about an hour. We pulled them out and then got busy with ... cookie cutters!

Typically, you cut this "dough" into rounds, but I decided to get creative.  It really is much like working with playdough for the kids, and I figured it would be fun for them to eat, as well.

Turtle was really into it, so it was really hard to take pictures because I had to keep putting the camera down to help him.  He wasn't willing to pause for the photographer.  He also started eating the scraps leftover from around the shapes he was cutting out, so I knew he was going to like the finished product.

Two quiche plates full of cars, trains, and animals, ready for butter and parmesan.

Here's the finished dish, with the melted parmesan on top.  I didn't take a picture of the adult version I made, but it included a drizzle of brown butter with sauteed sage from our garden, added before they went into the oven.  It was delicious.  I highly recommend this recipe, especially if served with a side dish of veggies (we had a salad) for a more well-rounded meal!

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