Pillowy store-bought potato gnocchi are a great stand-in for dumplings in this easy and comforting dish. Buy precut butternut squash to save time, but slice any larger pieces of squash in half to ensure that it cooks evenly. We tend to think of dumplings as those savory and soft clouds of dough, simmering in a pot of chicken soup. But have you tried gnocchi? These Italian dumplings are often made with potatoes, and sometimes herbs, cheese, or chopped spinach are added to the dough. Shaped into little balls and cooked in boiling water, gnocchi, topped with melted butter or a savory sauce, are usually served as a side dish or as an accompaniment to meat or chicken. You can find potato gnocchi in the grocery store aisle alongside the dried pasta. In this recipe, gnocchi combines with roasted winter vegetables and a cheese sauce to make a warm, hearty supper, perfect for a cold winter’s evening. By using convenient packages of pre-chopped butternut squash and frozen pearl onions, you can get this dish on the table in just 30 minutes, perfect for a busy weeknight meal. This recipe also works well if you are feeding a group on a weekend. Add a tossed green salad and some fresh fruit, and everyone will be satisfied.
Toss together butternut squash, mushrooms, pearl onions, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spoon vegetable mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking pan; place pan in oven. Preheat oven to 450°F, leaving pan in oven as it preheats. Bake vegetable mixture in preheated oven until squash is tender and browned, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare gnocchi according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
Remove vegetable mixture from oven. Stir in gnocchi and softened butter. (Be careful—the pan will be hot.) Gradually add up to 1 cup reserved cooking water, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring until a slightly thick sauce begins to form. Stir in 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Divide the vegetable and dumpling mixture evenly among 4 bowls. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired, and serve immediately.