I love late fall Italian dishes. It is a time for porcini mushrooms, truffles and different types of squash.
Butternut Squash Flan with Spinach and Fonduta Sauce
1 butternut squash
1/2 cup onion, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Non-stick baking spray
Cut the squash in half, seed it and bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes. When cooled, scoop out the pulp (about a pound) and pass it through a sieve.
Saute onion in olive oil. In a blender, puree squash pulp and onions. Add Parmigiano Reggiano and blend, then add eggs and nutmeg, and blend again. Add heavy cream and blend for 2 minutes at medium speed. The mixture should be liquid but not thin. Season to taste.
Spray individual molds with non-stick baking spray and fill with the mixture. Bake at 300 degrees in bain marie (water bath) for 40 minutes.
1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pound spinach, leaves cleaned
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute garlic in butter, add spinach and season with salt and pepper. Braise until the spinach is wilted.
1/2 pound Fontina or Swiss cheese, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
3 egg yolks
Soak cheese in milk for 2 hours. Over a double boiler, begin to whisk cheese and milk. Add butter until the mixture becomes smooth. Add egg yolks and whisk until the mixture becomes smooth. To serve the flan: Line plates with spinach. Place each flan on top of the spinach and decorate with the sauce. Makes 6 servings.
Gnochhi di Zucca
1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups flour
Starting the night before, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Halve the squash, wrap it loosely in foil, place on a baking sheet and bake until tender when pierced, about 35 minutes.
Scoop out and discard the seeds. With a large spoon, scoop the pulp from the skin directly into a fine sieve. Set the sieve over a bowl to catch the liquids, cover and allow the squash to drain overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day, puree the squash in a food processor, transfer the puree to a large bowl, and add the eggs and salt. Mix well, add the flour and blend thoroughly. The dough should be soft and quite sticky.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a teaspoon, scoop up some of the dough (about a walnut-size piece) and use a finger to slide it into the water. Cook the gnocchi in batches of 10 to 15, poaching them for 2 minutes after they rise to the surface. Remove them with a slotted spoon. Set them aside to drain and repeat the process until the remaining dough is used up. Makes 4 servings.