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Gnocchi in Butternut Procrastination Sauce

130304 butternut blood orange gnocchi

I found my next cookbook idea: Procrastination Cooking. Procrasticooking? Lately it seems that some of my best recipes are born out of borderline panicked, it’s-5:30-and-I-haven’t-thought-about-dinner necessity.

Take this dish—tender, chewy gnocchi in a creamy sauce scented with brown butter and blood orange juice. It came about after I noticed that a long-neglected butternut squash was threatening to spoil. I’d bought it intending to make Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto but, well… procrastination. As long as the softening squash had my attention, I decided to just roast the sucker and figure out what to do with it later.

Later came soon enough, when I found the roasted squash again threatening to spoil, this time in my fridge. Luckily, I found it during a bout of “What the HELL are we going to eat tonight?” ransacking. Nearby lurked a single blood orange, also feeling somewhat squishy. Wheels started turning, and soon I was browning butter, chopping a sweet red onion, and pulling pine nuts from the freezer.

The true beauty of this dish (beyond the flavor, of course) is that it comes together in just one pan. No need to boil water and cook the gnocchi separately—I like to brown the dumplings straight from the package, get a little texture on the outside, and then add liquid to the pan and let the potato pillows absorb it. They release starch while they’re simmering, which helps to create a thick, creamy-textured sauce. Adding the roasted squash, some of which will break down into that liquid, provides another layer of holy-cow-this-is-good-ness.

What do you do when procrastination threatens to bite you in the behind?

Roasted Butternut Gnocchi in Blood Orange Brown Butter
Serves 4

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small red onion, halved and sliced thin
1 package prepared gnocchi
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Salt & pepper
1 medium butternut squash, cubed and roasted (instructions here)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Juice of 1 medium blood orange
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

  1. In a large stainless steel skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally, and when it stops foaming pay attention—you want it to brown, but just a bit. When you see the color starting to change, after a minute or two, add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and the butter is nutty brown, 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the gnocchi, pine nuts, and salt & pepper to taste, stir, and cook another 3 minutes, until both gnocchi and nuts have browned a bit.
  3. Stir in the roasted butternut, broth, and blood orange juice, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer 7 to 8 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and what remains looks thick and saucy.
  4. Stir in the parsley and serve, along with grated Parmesan cheese.

MAKE BABY FOOD: If you’ve got a very new eater, reserve some of the roasted butternut squash and puree it with a splash of milk or broth. A little more advanced? Serve the squash as finger food. Slightly older babies can handle the gnocchi as finger food, too (cut it if you like)—just be sure not to give baby any pine nuts, since they might be a choking hazard.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Jen at Ovuline

    This looks so good! I love butternut squash… And I especially love any recipe that can be cooked in one dish!

  2. bethanyg

    Wow. Just wow. We made this for dinner tonight for much the same reasons (near-dead squash and blood oranges) and it was absolutely incredible. It’s absolutely genius!

  3. Alice Rudin

    Made this last night, Left off the Parsley and Parmesan because I’m too lazy, but it was YUMMY!!! My kids wouldn’t touch it, but they don’t know anything! It will be a repeat in our house! Thanks!
    I’m just wondering, would it be just as good with regular orange, or no orange? I juiced a blood orange by hand, though it gave me a lovely hue to my hands (and countertop) it didn’t lend much juice…

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Hi Alice. So glad you liked it! You could definitely make it with regular orange–the blood orange adds pretty color but the flavor is so similar it wouldn’t matter much. It would work with lemon or lime too, I’ll bet–you just want a hit of acidity.

  4. Alice Rudin

    Thanks Debbie, I love the blog!!and the recipes!

  5. sandra

    I wish I could eat this right now. Blood orange sauce is a great twist on the usual butter sauce. I love it.

  6. Nancy

    Ok, I didn’t use the right pan so I’m sure that was my issue. But just for future reference, how does the stainless steel pan help?

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Hi Nancy! The stainless steel is light-colored, so you can see when the butter is browning. In a darker pan it’s hard to judge when to stop! Did you have problems with the recipe?

  7. Christina O'Connor

    Brilliant! And I love the cookbook idea!

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