Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Butternut squash gnocchi with sage brown butter, bacon and hazelnuts.

As we noted earlier this week, fall really isn’t quite here yet. But we already jumped the gun with the Applejack Rabbit cocktail, so why not move directly to the heart of the colder seasons and work with butternut squash? And while butternut squash is a “winter” squash, that just means you can store it over the winter. It is perfectly good to eat in the fall (or even late summer). And we do like our butternut squash, it is sweet and savory and a great ingredient in all sorts of dishes. And if you use butternut squash in pasta with some brown butter and maybe some sage…well, then you start inching towards culinary nirvana.

Somewhat monochrome ingredients, but you get a colorful dish.

Just because we like the photo…and the ingredient.

And while we like to make pasta at home (frankly, with mixed results) we do know we can make gnocchi, and it will be good. And if we use butternut squash, it can be very good. And this gnocchi is easy to make, but it does take a little time- time well spent. And this is a frugal dish as well. Butternut squash, flour and butter won’t break the bank. And they are pretty good for you, too…you get the idea.

Cut the top and bottom from the squash.

Quarter the squash and cook in the microwave.

Scoop out the flesh from the squash.

If you are unfamiliar with gnocchi, it is simply a small dumpling that usually combines a cooked starchy vegetable like potatoes or squash (although you can also use ricotta cheese- but that is for another post) with flour and seasoning . The dumplings are boiled and then served, or cooked a second time (usually browned in butter). What you get is a remarkably light-textured, but very hearty dumpling that pleases a crowd (and sticks to their ribs). Basically, if you want to feed a bunch of kids after they play sports, gnocchi is a good choice.

Grate some nutmeg.

Add flour and the seasoning. Start to mix the dough.

The finished dough will look like this.

Cut the dough in half.

Roll the dough into a cylinder and then cut the gnocchi.

Ready to cook.

Making butternut squash gnocchi is easy, but as we noted before, takes a bit of time. First quarter the squash and microwave it for 15- 25 minutes (you can also cook in the oven if you like). Let the squash cool and then scoop out the flesh and combine with the seasonings and flour. Knead the dough, turn it out, and then roll the dough into a long cylinders and cut small pieces to form the dumplings (use a lot of flour to prevent sticking). Boil the gnocchi for four and a half minutes and serve.

Assemble your garnishes (the bacon and hazelnuts are worth the effort).

Make the brown butter and sage sauce.

Boil the gnocchi.

Season and serve.

And how do we serve the butternut squash gnocchi? You can start simply with just some butter, parmesan, salt and pepper- and it will be tasty. But we suggest you take the time to brown the butter and add a little sage and thyme. And if you want to add some crunch with some crispy bacon or chopped hazelnuts, you might be even happier. And finally if you serve these sweet, rich and hearty dumplings with a salad of slightly bitter greens like arugula…well then you suddenly have a restaurant-quality meal.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

(Loosely adapted from a Sunset Magazine recipe)

Notes Before You Start:

  • You can cook the squash in the oven, if you prefer. Quarter and seed the squash and place cut side down in a shallow dish with 1/2 inch of water of water. Cook at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the squash is soft.
  • Microwaves vary in power. Adjust the first long cooking time for the squash as needed.

What You Get: A tasty, and relatively easy homemade gnocchi.

What You Need: No special equipment required.

How Long? At least an hour and a bit more time if this is your first time making the dish. It takes time to roll and cut the dough. Usually a weekend dish, but you can make this on weekdays with some planning.

Ingredients:

(Serves 6-8)

  • 1 medium butternut squash, 2-3 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan and/or pecorino romano
  • Salt and fresh black pepper
  • 6 sage leaves (optional)
  • 1 sprig thyme (optional)
  • 1/2 cup diced, browned bacon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup crushed hazelnuts (optional)

Assemble:

  1. Quarter and seed the squash and place in a microwave safe plate or dish with 1/2 cup of water. Cover with a paper towel and microwave on high for 15 minutes. Check for doneness (you should be able to easily insert a knife into any part of the squash) and cook in 2-3 minute increments until fully cooked. Set aside to cool.
  2. Scoop out 2 cups of the squash into a large bowl. Mash thoroughly with a fork. Add the salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, and mix with the squash. Slowly add the 3rd cup of flour until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. You do not have to use all of the flour.
  3. Turn out the dough on a well-floured surface. Knead the dough 10-12 times. Then separate the dough into halves (cover one half with plastic wrap). Roll the dough into a long cylinder, 3/4 of an inch wide. Then cut the cylinder into 1/2 inch pieces. Place the pieces on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  4. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Place the gnocchi in the pot and cook for 4 and a half minutes (or until they all float). Remove the gnocchi from the pot with a slotted spoon and place into a large bowl. Add the butter and cheese, season and serve…OR..
  5. Optionally, while the squash cool, brown the bacon and crush the hazelnuts. Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until the solids foam and the butter begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Then slice the sage and pull the thyme from the sprig and add to the brown butter. The herbs will sizzle for a minute of two and start to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and keep warm until service. When the gnocchi are ready add the brown butter sauce and half of the cheese. Then season and serve the gnocchi and garnish with the bacon, hazelnuts and remaining cheese.
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49 thoughts on “Butternut Squash Gnocchi

  1. This sounds wonderful! I have squash ripening now. I love potato gnocchi, but never thought I’d like it made with squash. The sage and bacon suggestions bring it right over to my idea of a great recipe. Thank you!

    • Thanks for reading. The squash gnocchi is a bit sweeter and firmer but still similar to the potato gnocchi. But the brown butter will best compliment the squash gnocchi..

  2. I love gnocchi di zucca! I’ll have to make them again soon. You provide a very elaborate recipe! I find that butternut squash (or pumpkin) often tastes very bland. Is that due to the quality/freshness? Is there a way to tell which ones are good, because they all look the same to me.
    I squeeze out some liquid and use less flour for lighter gnocchi (liquid boiled down and added back for more flavor).

    • We don’t have many guidelines on picking squash other than mostly intact skins. The butternuts here in the states are consistently sweet and their texture isn’t too fibrous. We hesitate to use pumpkins because there are so many varieties and their flavor/textures vary widely.

      One way to improve flavor is to take the time to roast (rather than microwave) the squash. You can take out a bit more liquid and also get some caramelized flavors.

      You are right about using less flour for better texture. We try to just add enough flour for a dough we can roll and won’t stick.

  3. This looks amazing. You had me at brown butter and bacon, but the gnocchi looks really interesting with the butternut squash! I just tried making pasta at home for the first time (fettuccine) and the results were wonderful, so I’m eager to try this out!

    • Hope you like it! And glad your home pasta making went well. We make pasta but can’t say we do better than some of our local fresh pasta makers…we will get it eventually…

  4. This is one of the most .. beautiful dishes .. of home cooking I ever seen. Love butter squash – and even the photos of all the “mess” and making are so wonderful to look at. Even I could give a lot for one portion of this – I would never get around to do it myself – lazy chef .. that’s me. You’re brilliant in what ever you put you hands .. on. Pleasure to end up here.

    • Thanks…but you don’t often see the failures, but we do have them…;-)

      That said, we will share more with butternut squash that is even easier to make, one of our favorite ingredients…

      • Butter squash was something I met when I lived in UK – we can get it here .. but it’s not a massive turnover. We used ribbons of butter squash, carrots and zucchini for as decoration for a salmon dish .. if I don’t remember wrongly. Wonderful with those ribbons on top of the dish. Very popular it was. Have to look through my USB. I love the soup .. too.

  5. I remember making a pumpkin gnocchi a few years ago, it was quite close to disasterous, I didnt try again! I will be trying your recipe though, it looks pretty fabulous.

    • Hope you enjoy it. Pumpkin can be tough to work with- often quite variable. We like the consistent sweetness and soft texture f the butternut squash (sweet potatoes, as well)…

  6. Thanks so much. I tried this once and it turned out horribly, but I love butternut squash and your recipe looks much simpler than the one I used. I’ll have to try this again!

    • Sorry to hear that (but you should see some of our pasta “experiments”). But this is a pretty easy recipe…just be sure to cook the squash all the way through…it really helps.

  7. Brilliant, I’ve made squash gnocchi before and it was good but not fantastic and I’ve been on the hunt for a tried and tested recipe. Sorted as they say :) and the only way to eat them is with sage butter. Thank you :)

  8. Yum! And I’ve been so in the mood for butternut squash lately. I roast and freeze mine during the fall and I have a few cups left from last fall that I was trying to figure out what to do with. Thanks for the great recipe!

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  10. Pingback: Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli With Honey Sage Brown Butter Sauce « Romancing the Bee

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