I’m starting to sense a theme. My last post, Tiramisu Brown Butter Brownies, was Italian inspired. This post is also Italian inspired and ALSO involves brown butter. Why? I don’t know. I love brown butter and I LOVE Italian food. Hello, proud Italian girl here. This recipe I wanted to give a classic a twist, but keep it hearty and comforting. Enter the Butternut Squash Alla Vodka Sauce.
What I love about this recipe is it can be easily be vegetarian or vegan friendly by making small adjustments. You can leave off the Prosciutto to make it veggie friendly. To make it vegan substitute butter for olive oil, substitute coconut milk for heavy cream, and leave off the cheese.
Sounds complicated, but I promise, it’s fairly pain free. Plus if you time everything out you can easily have this meal done in well under an hour. Cutting the squash and roasting the squash takes up the most time. PRO TIP: If you can splurge for the pre-cut butternut squash in the produce aisle, DO IT, it will save you prep time.
If you end up getting a whole squash, dice it up into 1/2 inch pieces, this will speed up roasting time. Chop up some fresh rosemary. Toss the squash in some olive oil with the rosemary and some full garlic cloves. Then roast at 425º for 25-30 minutes or until the squash is softened. During this 25 minutes you could: watch a short episode of Letter Kinney, read a chapter of Harry Potter, paint your toenails, or your cat’s toenails, or listen to side A of Bowie’s Diamond Dogs. Really, the options are limitless..or limited to 25 minutes. You will need to pause whatever you’re doing to get your water on the stove for the gnocchi. Take my word for it, you do not want to have to wait around for the water to boil when nearly everything else is done.
Once the squash is done toss the butternut squash, garlic cloves, and vodka, and vegetable broth into a blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer blender contents into a medium sized saucepan. Add cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the sauce and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. *Note: don’t turn off the oven, you’ll need it again momentarily.
By this point, your water should have come to a boil and you should have added the gnocchi. Cook the gnocchi per the package directions or until they float to the top. Drain and immediately toss with some olive oil to prevent them from sticking.
Now, if you read my previous post on brown butter, you’ll already have some idea of what’s coming next. Add the butter to a large skillet, melt the butter, stirring constantly. Once the butter’s melted, keep it on the stove, keep stirring it. Add the sage leaves. By now you should know how much I love brown butter, but do you know what I love more? SAGE BROWN BUTTER. While you’re busy browning the butter you’ll be infusing it with delicious fresh sage. Bonus: the whole fried sage leaves make for a pretty fancy garnish. Once the sage leaves are fried and crispy and the butter has browned and smells of a sagey-nutty aroma. While you’re busy browning the butter and infusing the sage, make sure to frequently stir your butternut squash sauce. Removed the sage leaves. It’s gnocchi frying time.
BUT WAIT, before you start frying those gnocchi’s there just one more quick thing you need to do. Crisp.up.that.Prosciutto. Just lay the Prosciutto out on a baking pan in a single layer and put in the already heated oven. Easy peasy, lemon squeezey. But don’t actual squeeze any lemon on your Prosciutto. That would be a travesty.
Alright, as I said before, it’s gnocchi frying time. This part is pretty easy too. Just toss the gnocchi into the frying pan and fry baby, fry. Keep on frying until the gnocchi browns and gets a little crispy on the outside.
As you’re finishing up frying the gnocchi, slowly add the heavy cream to the butternut squash sauce. Once this is done, the Prosciutto should be nice and crisp. Plate it all up, fried gnocchi, followed by the butternut squash alla vodka sauce, Prosciutto (you can choose to leave whole or crumble on top), and then garnish with Pecorino cheese and the fried sage leaves.
And voila! You have a fancy, fairly low stress meal that will have your boyfriend, girlfriend, imaginary friend, or dog wowed with your mad culinary skills.
Butternut Squash Alla Vodka Sage Fried Gnocchi
- 1 package Gnocchi
- 1 small-medium butternut squash, or 3 cups chopped
- 1/2 cup Vegetable Broth
- 1/2 cup Vodka
- 1/2cup Heavy Cream (or canned coconut milk if vegan)
- 4-5 Garlic Cloves
- 3tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
- 4tbsp Olive Oil
- 1tsp Cinnamon
- 1 1/2tsp Paprika
- Dash of nutmeg
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 6tbsp butter (or substitute olive oil if vegan)
- 6 sage leaves
- Prosciutto (omit if vegetarian)
- Pecorino Cheese (omit if vegan
- Preheat oven to 425º
- If using whole butternut squash, peel and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- Toss squash with rosemary, garlic cloves, and 4tbsp of olive oil
- Spread evenly on baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until squash is tender
- While the squash roasts, bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add gnocchi and cook per package instructions
- Drain gnocchi and lightly toss with olive oil to prevent sticking
- Remove squash from oven and transfer to blender
- Add vodka and vegetable broth in with squash and blend until completely smooth
- Transfer butternut squash sauce to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat
- In a frying pan, melt 6tbsp of butter over medium heat
- Once butter has melted, add sage leaves. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly until butter has browned and the sage is crisp
- Remove sage leaves, and set aside for garnish
- Spread Prosciutto on baking sheet in a single even layer. Stick pan in oven (still at 425º) for about 10-12 minutes
- While Prosciutto is crisping, add gnocchi to frying pan with brown butter
- Fry gnocchi until lightly browned
- Remove Prosciutto from the oven
- Just before removing the butternut squash alla vodka sauce from the stove, slowly add in heavy creamy
- Assemble dish with half the gnocchi, followed by butternut squash alla vodka sauce, prosciutto, and then garnish with Pecorino and Fried Sage