Vegan acorn squash & potato gnocchi

Acorn squash is a cheap, healthful, tasty, nutrient-packed way to get your fiber. It stores for pretty much forever on a shelf or in a cellar. The most common variety is deep green with an occasional orange spot on one side, though yellow, white, and variegated varieties have been bred. According to Wikipedia, though it is considered a winter squash it is in the same family of summer squash which includes zucchini and yellow squash. 

According to SELFNutritionData, one 4 inch squash has only 172 calories, a mere 4 of those are from fat. Zero cholesterol, and nearly no sodium as well. A single squash has a quarter of your daily recommended fiber, 30 percent of vitamin A, and nearly 80 percent of vitamin C. And as if that weren’t enough, it is mildly anti-inflammatory, gluten-free, and extremely low glycemic index. If I haven’t yet convinced you of what a super food acorn squash is, check out more Healthy Facts About Acorn Squash from the Healthy Eating website.

I had picked several squash a few months back at a local farm where for $30 you get to keep anything you can fit in a little red wagon. With some creative pyramid skills, I and some friends split quite a haul. I still had three acorns left, so I was trying to come up with something to do with it besides oven roasted with butter and brown sugar. Not that I don’t love it like that, I do, but I’d had that twice already in the past month. My mom suggested a recipe out of the blue for acorn squash gnocchi. As a good Slovak/Polish girl, I had grown up loving all types of pasta, gnocchi especially. The chewy, thick texture is completely unique.

She didn’t remember where the recipe came from so rather than try to remember it all, she told me to just Google it. My favorite current verb, “to Google”. I wish I could invent something so widely famous that the name becomes a verb. Anywho… The most intriguing recipe I found came from the blog the Girl in the Little Red Kitchen. This is someone who thinks like me, working in a very tiny place, using what she’s learned and instinct and creativity to come up with new and inventive recipes. Based mostly on that but with my own spin (mostly since I’m out of eggs currently), I present to you my Vegan Acorn Squash and Potato Gnocchi recipe.

Vegan Acorn Squash and Potato Gnocchi 

1 acorn squash
3 medium potatoes
1 1/2 cup flour (plus extra)
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp salt

1 jar pasta sauce
1 can chickpeas
2 carrots
1/2 bunch celery

1. Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. If you like, you can rinse the seeds and save them for roasting at 350 for 15 minutes as a light snack.

2. Put the squash in the microwave cut side up with some water in the hole, microwave 5 minutes. Pour out the water, place cut side down and microwave another 5 minutes, then another 5 minutes for 15 minutes total. Squash should be soft when poked with a fork. Remove and set aside to cool.

3. Rinse three potatoes and stick on all sides with a fork. Microwave in 3 minute bursts for a total of 9 minutes.

4. Peel the squash and mash the insides in a large bowl. The peel should slip right off using your fingers, you can use a fork to help lift the squash out.

5. Peel the potatoes as well. If you grab it in both hands and twist, the peel should slide off easily if fully cooked. Mash them into the squash. Get a large pot of salted water to boiling.

6. In a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp water, 2 tbsp baking powder and 1 tbsp oil. This replaces one egg, so you can use one egg instead. But this is what makes the dough vegan. It should bubble a bit. Add to the squash/potato mixture, as well as the flour (which, if you’re gluten intolerant, you should use gluten-free flour), and mix well. Your hands work best, dough will be slightly sticky.

7. Flour your work surface and take a handful of dough. Roll it with your hands into a 1-2 inch thick log.

8. Cut the log into small, 1 inch cubes. You can try to shape them with a fork but I just tossed them in the pot like so.

9. Boil the pasta for 3-5 minutes. They should begin floating to the top of the water when fully cooked. Boil in batches. Don’t leave them in longer than about ten minutes or they will become mush. Remove to a strainer to let drain. Meanwhile you can start the sauce.

10. Open the chickpeas and drain. Add to blender along with the pasta sauce and puree until completely liquid, adding some water to thin if needed. If you have a juicer, juice the carrots and celery to add. If not you can simply omit them, or boil them for 20 minutes then add to the blender. I also added in a dash of Italian seasonings.

The gnocchi are chewy and salty, just how I like it. This pasta dough could probably be used to create any kind of pasta, with varying degrees of success. I ended up adding quite a bit more flour to help it stay together and be less sticky. It still ended up a little slimier than I would like, but I will try again.

My boyfriend is a hard-core carnivore, so I added some ground beef to the sauce. I didn’t tell him what it was before he tried it (bless his heart he will try anything once if I made it), and he said he actually liked it and would eat it again! Trust me, that’s a stellar review! These have all the taste and texture of traditional gnocchi with an added dose of fiber and vitamins. Why not?

Nutrition Information

For the gnocchi alone, SparkRecipes nutrition info:

  • Servings Per Recipe: 4
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 345.1
  • Total Fat: 2.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 2,017.5 mg
  • Total Carbs: 72.8 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 6.7 g
  • Protein: 8.4 g

For the pasta sauce (minus ground beef), SparkPeople nutrition info:

  • Servings Per Recipe: 8
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 90.5
  • Total Fat: 0.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 357.0 mg
  • Total Carbs: 18.3 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.9 g
  • Protein: 3.5 g

Therefore a 1-cup serving of pasta with 1 cup of sauce is only 435 calories and yet 10.6 grams of fiber and nearly 12 grams of protein!

Do you have a favorite way to cook squash?

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