Butternut Squash Gnocchi for Picky Eaters + Suffering Succotash Giveaway

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on November 26, 2012

[putting on her best Sally Struthers “Save the Children” voice] Picky eating affects nearly every one of us. Whether you’re a picky eater or know someone who is, we can all do something to help. No, really. How many of us have never been or never dealt with a picky eater in our lives? I don’t see too many hands.

suffering succotashApart from the fact that I’ve known and adored Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic for years through her pithy writing on Grub Report and Television Without Pity (yes, Top Chef fans, you can all thank her for coining the word “cheftestant”), I had to get a copy of her new book, Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater’s Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate.

Not to throw my husband under the bus yet again, but after more than a decade of trying to figure out why Dan out-and-out rejects most foods I consider staples—from lobster rolls to hot dogs to omelets to Thai food to guacamole to soup and any other hot liquid (no coffee, no tea, not even hot chocolate, really!)—I needed Stephanie to give me some answers and, with any luck, a game plan for changing Dan into an omnivore.

As a picky eater turned foodie, Stephanie draws on a lifetime of food trauma (terrorized by pudding skin, freaked out by the smell of spinach) to try and figure out why we become picky eaters, and how we can overturn our food phobias and stifle our gag reflexes to embrace the world’s full spectrum of tastes. It’s not as simple as discovering whether or not you’re a supertaster (sorry, Dan), but both picky and adventurous eaters will identify with Stephanie’s quest and be satisfied by the conclusions she draws.

butternut squash pasta
Stephanie challenged my own picky eating phobias (yes, I have them—witness my screed against bananas) with a recipe for butternut squash pasta. Squash, like pumpkins, is what Stephanie calls a “texture violation” for my palate: it’s like weirdly stringy, fleshy baby food. In one of Suffering Succotash‘s chapters, Stephanie relates a highly traumatic story of being forced to down an entire plate of cold, maple syrup-y acorn squash, and reading that tale sent tremors through my stomach.

Spoiler alert: I ate almost the whole bowl of gnocchi until Thanksgiving got in the way and I needed to purge leftovers for fridge space, as you do. “What I found most amazing about this supremely quick dish was how the squash turned into a lovely rich and velvety mess when there’s barely any oil added,” Stephanie said. My only concessions, other than adding a wee bit more creme fraiche to make it saucier and a dollop of miso to hide the squashiness a little better, were to substitute coriander and a pinch of cumin for a tablespoon of curry powder. (She didn’t know it, but curry powder is another thing that gets my gag reflex going. Not sure how to fix that one!)

Stephanie’s recipe for butternut squash gnocchi follows below, and you can win a copy of Suffering Succotash right now:

**UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered and congratulations to commenter milaxx, winner of the cookbook!**

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