When I was a little girl, I can remember being fascinated with studying pictures of my sister and I, figuring out how we looked similar, and how we looked different. It was pretty obvious, even back then, that we were sisters, but I never understood how people could say we looked "exactly the same!"
We both inherited my mom's mouth and great smile, and while I inherited my dad's nose, my sister got more of my mom's. As we grew up, our differences grew greater as our personalities developed, though I have always been "the loud one". My sister was organized, loved details and putting together jigsaw puzzles. I on the other hand, hated cleaning, and loved sitting down and immersing myself in a book. Our looks however, began to differ even more. I grew to a whopping 5'4" and then continued "growing outward" while my sister has at least 3 inches on me. Yet, now that we're both adults, I can see our similarities more than ever.
These three (butternut) sisters came to me by way of my friend Mal (of A to Z Literacy fame) who grew them in her backyard garden. Much like my sister and I, they came from the same batch of seeds, yet somehow grew up to be so similar, yet so different. I think I'm the shorter, wider one in the back, and my sister is the taller, thinner one up front. The other one? I'd like to think of that one as our sisterhood and friendship: the perfect mix of the two of us.
I had to do something special with these sisters, and the first recipe that came to mind was one that I attempted last winter: Butternut Squash Gnocchi. This recipe, while delicious, was a little bit too heavy on the herbs so that we couldn't really taste the butternut squash. Today though, I believe I perfected it. It's worth every second, every minute of waiting, rolling, flouring, and cooking... and every calorie.
Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Crimini Mushrooms
* 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lbs), cooked (I steamed mine)
* 1-1/4 c. whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
* 1/2 tsp. sea salt
* 1 egg, lightly beaten
* 4 Tbsp. butter
* 1 tsp. olive oil
* 1 clove garlic, lightly smashed
* 15-20 large cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
Press your cooked squash through a potato ricer, food mill, or strainer. Allow the mash to cool for at least an hour before continuing. Gently stir the egg, flour, and salt into the squash. The dough will be smooth and a little bit sticky. Sprinkle your work surface with a bit of flour, and roll sections of dough into 1/4" logs. Cut into bite sized pieces, and lightly press with a fork to make lines in each piece. Boil in lightly boiling water until the gnocchi float. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander. Once drained, move to serving dish.
Heat the butter and oil in a pan with the whole garlic clove and slowly melt the butter. Keep the heat on low and cook the butter until brown, about the color of dark caramel. Pour the butter into a small dish, and cook the mushrooms in the oil that remains in the pan until the mushrooms are slightly soft. Add the butter back to the pan, cook another minute, immediately pour the butter and mushrooms over the gnocchi and serve.
Thank you, Mal, for the most delicious butternut squashes... and a big virtual hug to my sister, who needs it today.