Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages
This Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages is a delightful one-pot recipe that perfectly balances flavours and textures. This vibrant dish combines the comforting goodness of South African boerewors sausages with the subtle warmth of fennel seed powder, elevating it to a whole new level of deliciousness. Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy weekday meal or a crowd-pleaser for the family, this recipe fits the bill. In fact, it’s so well-loved that I always make extra to pack for the kids’ school lunches.
Whether you’re an experienced home cook or just beginning your culinary journey, this recipe is a fantastic addition to your repertoire. Its simplicity and ease of preparation make it perfect for a weekday meal, while it’s robust flavours and delightful combination of ingredients ensure that it will be a family favourite. Give this Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages a try and savour the wonderful play of flavours that awaits you in every bite.
Basic Ingredients for Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages
Gnocchi: Gnocchi are small Italian dumplings made from potatoes, flour, and sometimes eggs. In this recipe, gnocchi serves as the main carbohydrate component, providing a hearty and comforting base for the dish.
Olive Oil: Olive oil is used for sautéing sausages, onions, and fennel powder. It adds a rich flavour and helps to brown the ingredients, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
Sausages: South African boerewors sausages, or any other flavourful sausages of your choice, are added to the dish for their savoury and robust taste. The sausages provide protein and add depth to the overall flavour profile.
Fennel Powder: Fennel powder is a ground spice made from dried fennel seeds. It imparts a delicate, aromatic, and slightly sweet flavour to the dish, enhancing the taste of the sausages and adding a pleasant warmth.
Onion: Finely chopped onions are sautéed to create a flavorful base for the sauce. They add a sweet and savoury note to the dish and complement the other ingredients.
Pumpkin: The butternut squash, or pumpkin, is the star of this recipe. It adds a creamy texture and a natural sweetness to the sauce. The pumpkin becomes tender as it cooks in the chicken broth, lending its vibrant colour and earthy flavour to the dish.
Chicken Broth: Chicken broth is used to cook the pumpkin and create a flavorful liquid base for the sauce. It infuses the dish with savoury notes, adds moisture, and enhances the overall taste.
Gran Padano Cheese: This Italian hard cheese is grated and added to the dish for its rich, nutty flavour. It melts into the sauce, providing a luxurious creaminess and adding a savoury element.
Baby Spinach: A handful of baby spinach leaves is added to the dish to introduce a fresh, vibrant element. The spinach wilts slightly when tossed with the warm ingredients, adding colour, texture, and a hint of earthiness.
Gnocchi: If you prefer a different type of pasta or want a gluten-free option, you can substitute the gnocchi with your favourite pasta variety, such as penne, fusilli, or even gluten-free pasta.
Sausages: While the recipe calls for South African boerewors sausages, you can use any type of flavourful sausage that you enjoy.
Fennel Powder: If you don’t have fennel powder on hand or prefer a different flavour profile, you can use other spices to add depth and complexity. Some options include paprika, cumin, or Italian herb blends like oregano and thyme.
Onion: While the recipe suggests using onions, you can experiment with other types of alliums. Shallots or leeks can be used as substitutes, adding their unique flavours to the dish.
Pumpkin or Butternut Squash: If butternut squash or pumpkin is not available, you can substitute it with other types of winter squash, such as acorn squash or kabocha squash. Sweet potatoes can also be a delicious alternative, adding a touch of sweetness to the dish.
Chicken Broth: If you prefer a vegetarian or vegan version of this dish, you can replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth or mushroom broth. These alternatives will still provide a savoury base for the sauce.
Gran Padano Cheese: If you can’t find Gran Padano cheese, Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese are excellent alternatives. They have similar flavours and textures, adding a salty and nutty note to the dish.
Baby Spinach: While baby spinach adds freshness, you can substitute it with other leafy greens like kale or Swiss chard. They will provide a slightly different taste and texture but will still complement the other ingredients well.
Preparation Tips for Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages
Prepping the Ingredients: Before you begin cooking, make sure to prepare all the ingredients in advance. This includes chopping the onions, peeling and cubing the pumpkin or butternut squash, and cutting the sausages into small chunks. Having everything ready will make the cooking process smoother and more efficient.
Cooking the Sausages: When frying the sausages, use medium heat to ensure they cook evenly and develop a nice brown colour. Avoid overcrowding the pan, as this can prevent proper browning. Cook the sausages in batches if needed.
Flavouring with Fennel Powder: When adding the fennel powder to the onions, fry it for a short time until fragrant. This step helps to release the aroma and enhance the flavour of the spice. Be careful not to burn the powder, as it can become bitter.
Cooking the Pumpkin or Butternut Squash: To cook the pumpkin or butternut squash, cut it into small, uniform cubes. This allows for even cooking and ensures that the pieces become tender and easily mashable. Cover the pan with a lid while cooking to retain moisture and speed up the cooking process.
Mashing the Pumpkin/Squash: After the pumpkin or butternut squash has cooked, gently mash it using a spatula. This helps to create a creamy texture and incorporate it into the sauce.
Seasoning: Taste the sauce before adding the sausages and adjust the seasoning as needed. You can add salt and pepper according to your preference, but be mindful of the salt content in the chicken broth and the saltiness of the sausages.
Cooking the Gnocchi: Follow the instructions on the package to cook the gnocchi. Make sure to use salted boiling water, which adds flavour to the pasta. Cook the gnocchi until they float to the surface, indicating that they are done. Be careful not to overcook them, as they can become mushy.
Combining the Ingredients: When combining the cooked gnocchi with the sauce, sausages, cheese, and baby spinach, do so gently to avoid breaking the gnocchi. Toss everything together until well coated, ensuring the flavours are evenly distributed.
Garnishing and Serving: Drizzle a little olive oil over the dish just before serving to add a glossy finish. Sprinkle some extra grated cheese on top for an additional burst of flavour. Serve the Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages on a platter or individual plates.
Serving Tips for Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages
- Serve the Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages on a large platter or individual plates. Arrange the gnocchi and sausages on top of the sauce to showcase the vibrant colours of the dish.
- Before serving, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the plated dish. This adds a glossy finish and a touch of richness. Sprinkle some extra grated Gran Padano cheese on top for added flavour and visual appeal.
- For a pop of freshness and colour, garnish the dish with some fresh herbs. Chopped parsley, basil, or a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary can complement the flavours and add an enticing aroma.
- Serve the Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages alongside a simple side salad. A light green salad with a tangy vinaigrette or a citrusy arugula salad can provide a refreshing contrast to the rich and comforting flavours of the main dish.
- Serve some crusty bread or garlic bread on the side. It’s perfect for sopping up the delicious sauce and adding a satisfying texture to the meal.
- If you’re serving this dish for a family gathering or dinner party, consider serving it family-style in a large serving dish. Let everyone help themselves and pass the platter around the table, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Refrigeration: If you have leftovers, allow the dish to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Place the container in the refrigerator. The Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Individual Portion Containers: To make it easier for meal prepping or packing for lunches, divide the leftovers into individual portion containers. This way, you can simply grab a container and reheat it when needed.
Reheating: To reheat the dish, you can use the stovetop or microwave. If using the stovetop, gently warm the Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages in a saucepan over medium heat. Add a splash of water or broth to prevent it from drying out. Stir occasionally until it is heated through. If using the microwave, transfer the portion to a microwave-safe dish, cover loosely with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap, and heat in short intervals, stirring in between, until it is heated to your desired temperature.
Freezing: If you’d like to freeze the Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages, it’s best to do so before adding the gnocchi. Prepare the dish up until step 5 (before adding the gnocchi). Allow the sauce and sausage mixture to cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or zip-top freezer bag. Label the container with the date and freeze it for up to 2-3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it, thaw the sauce in the refrigerator overnight and cook the gnocchi separately before combining them.
Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages (Full Video)
Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sausages
- 500 g gnocchi
- olive oil
- 500 g sausages, cut into small chunks
- 1 tsp Fennel powder
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 500 g pumpkin, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ⅓ cup grated GranPadano Cheese, plus extra to serve
- Handfulbaby spinach
- In a medium-sized shallow pot, heat a couple of tables of olive oil. Add the sausages, fry until browned then set aside.
- In the same pan, add the onions and sauté till they have softened. Add the fennel powder and fry until fragrant.
- Add the pumpkin and 2 cups of chicken broth, cover the pan’s lid and leave to cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. Mash it gently using a spatula.
- Toss in the cooked sausage and season with salt and pepper.
- Boil the gnocchi asper the package instructions in salted boiling water and drain once they arecooked.
- Add the gnocchi to the sauce. Add about 1/3 cup of grated Gran Padano cheese and baby spinach and toss all the ingredients together. Serve on a platter or directly in the pot, top with a drizzle of olive oil and garnish with extra Gran Padano cheese.
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