Ok, unless you cook A LOT like me, you may not know what any of the three ingredients in the title are....Ryan didn't until recently...Or maybe you've heard of them but you haven't ever cooked with them. I am telling you right now, this is the best recipe I have posted to date.
Gnocchi is tricky in recipes (super easy to make - you just boil a package for 2 minutes). Gnocchi is heavier than a typical pasta, so finding a recipe with a good sauce to balance it can be hard. I make some of the BEST Butter Sage Gnocchi that I promise to post sometime.
Kale is also strange. I had never even tried it until a week before our wedding. And I fell in love! It only has 34 calories per cup and is 206% of your daily value for Vitamin A. It's really, really good for you. The problem is that it can be bitter and pretty stiff compared to lettuce or spinach. Finding a recipe that makes you love kale is not easy. I hear people all the time say they hate it - but i know it's because they didn't prepare it right.
And butternut squash. This is the first time I've cooked with it....I didn't even know what it looked like in the grocery store. When I cut it up it smelled like pumpkin, and I am NOT a fan....so I was worried this would be disastrous, possibly bitter and not up to Ryan's standards because it's a vegetarian meal....Ohhhhhh was I WRONG.
This meal was phenomenal. It is a great meal to make for company (I am definitely making this when my parents come to visit), it's vegetarian if you have a friend who doesn't like meat, but it's SO good that meat lovers won't even realize the meat is missing! I am begging you to go to the store and try this meal as soon as you're done reading it. Don't be afraid! If you follow my directions you can't mess this up!!
Ok, get your squash. Mine was a medium sized one. I found it easiest to cut it in half and flip it over (the flat side and seeds down - not like it the picture!) This lets you control it better so you don't hurt yourself. I cut it into 4 long pieces about the width you see to the left. Then I CAREFULLY took the knife and sliced off each rind (hard outer shell) and cut out the seeds. I chopped it up into small 1/4-1/2" pieces. I was so worried we weren't going to like the flavor of the squash that I wanted the pieces small and not in big chunks.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a big skillet over medium/medium-high heat and make sure it's one that you have a lid for. Add the squash and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often. It will be soft and slightly golden. While it's cooking....
Grab your kale. One big bunch from the grocery store. Get a big bowl and fill it full of water and swish the kale around. It can have some dirt on it sometimes, but if you dunk and swirl it for about a minute, it will sink to the bottom of your bowl. Shake it off and cut the stems out of the middle of each piece like above. Them stems are REALLY hard, so you want to cut them out. Chop up the kale. Now this can seem overwhelming. I stood there looking at it for awhile...it was A LOT of kale. Just grab a handful and start chopping one direction and then turn and start chopping the other direction. Once you've chopped it up, put it in a bowl to the side and grab another handful. It doesn't have to be fine chopped, just chop it. I too was worried I hadn't cut it small enough, but I got so tired of chopping I decided 'this will have to do' and it worked out fine. Look at the next picture to see how I chopped it. If you're not a quick chopper, and you think it will take longer than 10-12 minutes, just chop it before you do the squash!
Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic (I use the minced jar in the refrigerator kind), 2-3 teaspoons sage, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and a teaspoon of salt. Stir and cook until the garlic is soft (about 2 minutes). Turn on the broiler of your oven. Pour 1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth in the skillet.
When it starts to simmer, add in the kale. The recipe said 8 cups. I measured it out and it was the whole bunch, so just pour everything you chopped in. It will look like a mountain of kale, don't worry! (see above) Stir it around to coat it and cook for 2 minutes until it is wilted and shrunken up.
Like this! See, it really looks like a lot has disappeared once it wilts. Then you add a 16-17oz package of gnocchi. I used whole wheat for this, but I've used regular and tri-colored in the past. I thought it was weird they didn't say to boil it first, but this is awesome because it saves a step and a dirty pan. Stir the gnocchi around so they are coated and then cover and cook for 5 minutes...
...and tah-dah! the gnocchi are completely cooked and plumped up! Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup parmesan. I used the REAL parmesan, like freshly grated...it makes all the difference...but I also got it for half price because it can be pretty expensive. Stir everything together and transfer to a baking dish. A brownie pan would work really well for this.
Sprinkle the top with another 1/2 cup or parmesan and place it in your oven, under the broiler, for 3 minutes. It will be brown and bubbly.
This was supposed to be 4 servings...we devoured all of it except for this:
Which I ate for a pre-lunch snack. I put my chapstick next to it so you could see how little we had left. If you're hungry, this could definitely be eaten by two, maybe three...but not 4. It was just as delicious warmed up the next day. This is also another low calorie dinner. Only 438 calories per serving.
I want to mention that I eat all of the food I put on here, usually 1-2 servings of it for dinner. I also eat dessert and have a serving of the previous night's dinner the next day for lunch. I'm lucky to go to the gym 3-4 times a week....and I've lost 5 pounds since moving. I purposely pick the lowest calorie dinners offered in the Food Network Magazine. They are usually 400-600 calories per serving...And the great thing is, they have ALL been delicious. So delicious, easy and healthy (:
Gnocchi, Butternut Squash & Kale (makes 2-3 servings)
- 3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4 -1/2" pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
- 2-3 teaspoons sage
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (about 8 cups)
- 1 (16-18) ounce package potato gnocchi
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
- Chop the squash into small 1/4-1/2" pieces after peeling and seeding it. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a big skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Add the squash and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often. It will be soft and slightly golden.
- While it's cooking, grab your cleaned kale. Cut the stems out of the middle of each piece and roughly chop the leaves.
- Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic , 2-3 teaspoons sage, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and a teaspoon of salt to the skillet. Stir and cook until the garlic is soft (about 2 minutes).
- Turn on the broiler of your oven. Pour 1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth in the skillet. When it starts to simmer, add in the kale. Stir it around to coat it and cook for 2 minutes until it is wilted and shrunken up.
- Add a 16-17oz package of gnocchi. Stir the gnocchi around so they are coated and then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup parmesan.
- Transfer to a baking dish. Sprinkle the top with another 1/2 cup or parmesan and place it in your oven, under the broiler, for 3 minutes. It will be brown and bubbly.
One little picture to leave you with. Marcy was attached to our hip all last night - ever since she was outside when a loud clap of thunder occurred. It scared her into stopping her terrorist ways. Instead, she started constantly sleeping on our laps or following us around - it was a nice change...and I'm sure it won't last for long...