Butternut Squash Alla Vodka Sage Fried Gnocchi

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.

I ❤ Gnocchi

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.

My husband graciously humored me by grating the cheese for these pictures. Thanks hubs.

Butternut Squash Alla Vodka Sage Fried Gnocchi



Ingredients


  • 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


Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 425º
  2. If using whole butternut squash, peel and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  3. Toss squash with rosemary, garlic cloves, and 4tbsp of olive oil
  4. Spread evenly on baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until squash is tender
  5. While the squash roasts, bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add gnocchi and cook per package instructions
  6. Drain gnocchi and lightly toss with olive oil to prevent sticking
  7. Remove squash from oven and transfer to blender
  8. Add vodka and vegetable broth in with squash and blend until completely smooth
  9. Transfer butternut squash sauce to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat
  10. In a frying pan, melt 6tbsp of butter over medium heat
  11. Once butter has melted, add sage leaves. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly until butter has browned and the sage is crisp
  12. Remove sage leaves, and set aside for garnish
  13. Spread Prosciutto on baking sheet in a single even layer. Stick pan in oven (still at 425º) for about 10-12 minutes
  14. While Prosciutto is crisping, add gnocchi to frying pan with brown butter
  15. Fry gnocchi until lightly browned
  16. Remove Prosciutto from the oven
  17. Just before removing the butternut squash alla vodka sauce from the stove, slowly add in heavy creamy
  18. Assemble dish with half the gnocchi, followed by butternut squash alla vodka sauce, prosciutto, and then garnish with Pecorino and Fried Sage

Tiramisu Brown Butter Brownies

I have a confession, I love coming up with fun supper ideas, but desserts are my passion. A guilty pleasure if you will.

I think my passion stems from growing up watching my mom and my grandmother bake confectionary goodies for every occasion. Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, the weekend, a visit to the grandparents. I loved helping out in the kitchen (when desserts were involved). To me desserts allowed you to get creative and express yourself. Plus, licking the bowl was a tasty reward.

One of the household favorite desserts growing up was Tiramisu. Though, admittedly we never had Tiramisu as often as we would have liked. To this day, it’s still one of my guilty pleasures, which leads me to today’s post: Tiramisu Brown Butter Brownies (I’m a sucker for alliteration).

In comparison to my first post, these are a little more of a labor of love. BUT WORTH IT. I wish there was a magical way to make brownies under 30 minutes. I mean there is, but it usually involves a mug, a microwave, and sometimes a minor brownie explosion in said microwave. It may have happened to me once or twice in college.

While these may take more time, they are by no means overly complicated. First things first, preheat the oven to 350º. Next over medium-low heat melt the butter, stirring constantly. Once the butter is melted continue to let the butter simmer. Keep stirring! You want to slowly brown your butter, but don’t burn it. Brown butter is done when it turns a caramel brown and gives off a sweet nutty aroma. I like to use my cast iron skillet for several reasons. One, it’s well seasoned from years of use and adds to the flavor of the butter, in my opinion. Two, it adds MORE seasoning for the next time I use it. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet that perfectly fine! Brown butter is always tasty. If you’ve never made brown butter I recommend using a lighter skillet to you can see when the butter has browned. To strain or not to strain your brown butter? This my friends I leave to you. Some people don’t enjoy the solidified milk in their butter, some believe it adds to the flavor. I’m in the former camp, plus I think it adds a little texture. But to each their own. Let your butter cool slightly before going on to the next step.

In a medium bowl combine the sugars and the brown butter. Add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time. Mix well.

In a separate bowl combine the rest of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt). Slowly incorporate the dry mixture into the wet mixture.

I did mention that these brownies were a labor of love, right? It’s worth it! I promise! For the filling, combine the room-temp mascarpone, eggs yolks, and sugar. Mix until just combined. If you over mix, the mascarpone becomes watery.

Next you’ll need to make the espresso and amaretto drizzle. You can use espresso or make espresso with instant espresso. Set aside.

Now for the fun part! Make sure you butter you 9×13 baking dish or else the brownies will stick to the pan. If the brownies stick to the pan, they don’t come out clean, if they don’t come out clean you leave part of the brownie behind which is a TRAVESTY. No, I’m not being dramatic. I just really love brownies, darn it. Add half of the brownie batter to the baking dish and smooth out. Next spoon on the the tiramisu filling. Smooth out, but don’t worry about creating a nice smooth layer. If you do try to smooth it out too much you run the risk of incorporating the filling into the brownie batter. Which isn’t necessarily the worst thing to happen. Drizzle on about a quarter of the espresso-amaretto mixture. Top of with the rest of the brownie batter. Once again, smooth gently, but don’t worry about creating a perfectly flat layer. Once the mixture heats up it will naturally start to expand and level out.

Stick the the baking dish in the center of the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE. If you do, you run the potential of drying out the brownies. Set aside brownies and allow to cool completely.

Cracked Rustic Brownies…they’re all the rage.

Once the brownies are cooled, move on to the frosting. Beat the butter in a standing mixer, until softened. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar, then the espresso. Leave the mascarpone cheese for last. You want to make sure the mascarpone is fully incorporated, but don’t over mix. Over mixed mascarpone breaks down and will water down your icing.

Nice and thick. You want the icing to keep its form when you pipe it on top of the brownies.

Before you pipe on the frosting, drizzle the rest of the espresso-amaretto mixture on to the brownies. I did individual piping “drops” (is that a good word for this technique? I don’t know, but I’m running with it), but you can smooth the icing on or pipe it on however you feel works or looks best. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, it matters how it tastes. Now for the absolute last step, sprinkle on some cocoa powder. And voila! Your labor of love is ready for consumption. Whether or not you choose to eat these on your own or share them with the rest of the world is up to you.

Tiramisu Brown Butter Brownies



Ingredients


Brownie

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2tsp Vanilla

Tiramisu Filling

  • 1/2 cup room temp Mascarpone
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Espresso Drizzle

  • 3/4 cup espresso
  • 1tbsp Amaretto or Rum

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup room temp butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, plus some
  • 2 1/2tbps Espresso
  • 1/2 cup Mascarpone
  • Cocoa powder for dusting



Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. In a skillet add butter and melt over medium-low heat. Stirring constantly
  3. Once melted, continue to heat stirring constantly until butter is browned and has a nutty aroma
  4. Remove butter from heat and allow to slightly cool
  5. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, and brown butter
  6. Incorporate eggs, one at a time
  7. Add vanilla and mix well
  8. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt
  9. Slowly incorporate flour mixture into the wet ingredients, mix well
  10. For the filling, combine the sugar and egg yolks
  11. Cream in the mascarpone. Be careful to not over mix
  12. In a small bowl mix espresso and amaretto, set aside
  13. Butter a 9×13 baking dish and add half of the brownie batter
  14. Spoon on Tiramisu filling, this does not need to be in a neat uniform layer
  15. Drizzle 1/4 of the espresso and amaretto mixture
  16. Top off with the remainder of the brownie batter. Once again, this does not need to be in a neat uniform layer
  17. Put on the center rack and bake for 20-25 minutes. Be sure to not over bake
  18. Remove from oven. The top should be slightly browned. Set aside and allow to cool completely
  19. In a standing mixer, cream butter until smooth
  20. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until fully combined
  21. Add espresso, mixing well
  22. Add room temp mascarpone and mix until just combined
  23. Drizzle the remainder of the espresso and amaretto mixture on top of the cooled brownies
  24. Pipe or spread icing on to the brownies
  25. Finish off with a dusting of cocoa powder