Recipe

Butternut Squash Gnudi with Kale, Parmesan, and Pepitas

by Tim Chin

Gnudi are gnocchi-like dumplings that are traditionally made with strained ricotta and nothing more than a light dusting of semolina flour—essentially a ravioli filling minus the pasta. The result is something much less dense than gnocchi—more cloud-like and ethereal. In this version (inspired by a dish that my former boss, chef Pete Lipson, used to run at Northern Spy Food Co. in New York City), I use butternut squash instead of ricotta to create the ultimate fall dish. While researching for this recipe, I found this post on Ideas in Food, and I got to tinkering.

The challenge in trying to make dumplings out of squash is getting them to hold together without diluting the squash flavor with large quantities of binders such as wheat flour and eggs. In this recipe, I use very small amounts of tapioca starch and egg white powder (the extra water in fresh egg whites requires more tapioca starch, which means less squash flavor) to effectively bind water and form a stable but supertender gel. The dough is too delicate to knead and roll out, so instead I gently bake it and then cut the gnudi by hand. These creamy, light-as-air dumplings are 93 percent squash, so that’s all you taste. You can eat the cooked gnudi immediately following the 1-hour refrigeration, or they can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The gnudi can be turned into a satisfying dish with wilted kale, Parmesan, and pumpkin seeds in less than 10 minutes.

Yield
Serves 4
Butternut_20Squash_20Gnudi_074.jpg
Ingredients

Gnudi

1,200 g butternut squash (1 large squash), peeled, halved, seeded, and sliced ¼ inch thick
40 g unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
40 g Parmesan cheese
20 g tapioca starch
20 g egg white powder
4 g kosher salt

Kale

28 g vegetable oil
450 g kale, stemmed and chopped
30 g water
28 g unsalted butter
10 g garlic cloves (2 cloves), minced
5 g sherry vinegar
  Kosher salt and pepper
40 g unsalted butter
4 g fresh sage leaves, chopped fine
  Kosher salt and pepper
20 g roasted, salted pepitas
  Finely grated lemon zest for serving
  Parmesan cheese, shaved with vegetable peeler, for serving
  Extra-virgin olive oil for serving

Gnudi

2½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and sliced ¼ inch thick
1½ ounces Parmesan cheese, grated fine (¾ cup)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon egg white powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons tapioca starch
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Kale

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound kale, stemmed and chopped
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2  garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  Kosher salt and pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped fine
  Kosher salt and pepper
2 tablespoons roasted, salted pepitas
  Finely grated lemon zest for serving
  Parmesan cheese, shaved with vegetable peeler, for serving
  Extra-virgin olive oil for serving
Essential Equipment
Instructions
    • 1,200 g butternut squash (1 large squash), peeled, halved, seeded, and sliced ¼ inch thick
    Place squash in large microwave-safe bowl and cover with microwave-safe plate. Microwave at 100 percent power until fully tender, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring halfway through microwaving. Carefully remove plate and drain squash in colander, discarding liquid. Set squash aside to cool slightly.
  1. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees F/150 degrees C. Line bottom of large roasting pan with dish towel, folding towel to fit smoothly, and set aside. Spray 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil spray and line with plastic wrap, smoothing bottom with plastic bench scraper; set aside.
    • 40 g unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces 
    • 40 g Parmesan cheese, grated fine 
    • 20 g tapioca starch 
    • 20 g egg white powder 
    • 4 g kosher salt
    Measure out 600 g cooked squash (reserve remaining squash for another use). Place squash in food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add butter, Parmesan, tapioca starch, egg white powder, and salt and process until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan, smooth top with spatula, and tap pan on counter to release air bubbles.
  2. Cover baking pan tightly with aluminum foil and place in center of prepared roasting pan. Place roasting pan in oven and carefully pour 8 cups boiling water into roasting pan. Bake until center of mixture is set, no longer sticks to fingers when gently pressed, and registers 170 to 180 degrees F/77 to 82 degrees C, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove baking pan from water bath, discard foil, and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Refrigerate gnudi in pan until firm, about 1 hour. (At this point gnudi can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.) Carefully unmold gnudi onto cutting board, discarding plastic. Using wet knife, cut gnudi into 1 by ¾-inch rectangular pieces, wiping knife with dish towel and rewetting between cuts. You will have 50 to 60 pieces.
    • 28 g vegetable oil 
    • 450 g kale, stemmed and chopped 
    • 30 g water 
    • 28 g unsalted butter 
    • 10 g garlic cloves (2 cloves), minced 
    • 5 g sherry vinegar 
    • Kosher salt and pepper
    For the Kale: Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add kale and cook until slightly wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add water, butter, garlic, and vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and divide among 4 shallow bowls.
    • 40 g unsalted butter 
    • 4 g fresh sage, chopped fine 
    • Kosher salt and pepper 
    • 20 g roasted, salted pepitas 
    • Finely grated lemon zest for serving 
    • Parmesan cheese, shaved with vegetable peeler, for serving 
    • Extra-virgin olive oil for serving 
    Meanwhile melt butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add half of gnudi and 2 g sage, cover, and cook until browned on one side, 2 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide gnudi evenly between 2 bowls. Repeat with remaining gnudi and remaining 2 g sage; season with salt and pepper to taste and divide evenly between remaining 2 bowls. Sprinkle with pepitas, lemon zest, and shaved Parmesan; drizzle with oil; and serve.
Instructions
    • 2½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and sliced ¼ inch thick
    Place squash in large microwave-safe bowl and cover with microwave-safe plate. Microwave at 100 percent power until fully tender, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring halfway through microwaving. Carefully remove plate and drain squash in colander, discarding liquid. Set squash aside to cool slightly.
  1. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees F/150 degrees C. Line bottom of large roasting pan with dish towel, folding towel to fit smoothly, and set aside. Spray 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil spray and line with plastic wrap, smoothing bottom with plastic bench scraper; set aside.
    • 1½ ounces Parmesan cheese, grated fine (¾ cup) 
    • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon egg white powder 
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces 
    • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons tapioca starch 
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    Measure out 21 ounces (about 3 cups) cooked squash (reserve remaining squash for another use). Place squash in food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add Parmesan, egg white powder, butter, tapioca starch, and salt and process until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan, smooth top with spatula, and tap pan on counter to release air bubbles.
  2. Cover baking pan tightly with aluminum foil and place in center of prepared roasting pan. Place roasting pan in oven and carefully pour 8 cups boiling water into roasting pan. Bake until center of mixture is set, no longer sticks to fingers when gently pressed, and registers 170 to 180 degrees F/77 to 82 degrees C, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove baking pan from water bath, discard foil, and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Refrigerate gnudi in pan until firm, about 1 hour. (At this point gnudi can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.) Carefully unmold gnudi onto cutting board, discarding plastic. Using wet knife, cut gnudi into 1 by ¾-inch rectangular pieces, wiping knife with dish towel and rewetting between cuts. You will have 50 to 60 pieces. 
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
    • 1 pound kale, stemmed and chopped 
    • 2 tablespoons water 
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
    • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar 
    • Kosher salt and pepper
    For the Kale: Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add kale and cook until slightly wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add water, butter, garlic, and vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and divide among 4 shallow bowls.
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 
    • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped fine 
    • Kosher salt and pepper 
    • 2 tablespoons roasted, salted pepitas 
    • Finely grated lemon zest for serving 
    • Parmesan cheese, shaved with vegetable peeler, for serving 
    • Extra-virgin olive oil for serving
    Meanwhile melt butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add half of gnudi and 1 tablespoon sage, cover, and cook until browned on one side, 2 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide gnudi evenly between 2 bowls. Repeat with remaining gnudi and remaining 1 tablespoon sage; season with salt and pepper to taste and divide evenly between remaining 2 bowls. Sprinkle with pepitas, lemon zest, and shaved Parmesan; drizzle with oil; and serve.
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