|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 29g||37%|
|Saturated Fat 16g||79%|
|Total Carbohydrate 81g||29%|
|Dietary Fiber 11g||39%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 44mg||220%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Gnocchi are essentially bite-sized dumplings with a signature grooved texture. They have been part of Italian cuisine since at least Roman times, offering affordable and filling food incorporating locally accessible ingredients that have changed and diversified over time. Early ingredients were likely semolina, breadcrumbs, and eggs, with potatoes coming later.
Types of Gnocchi
Potato is perhaps the most popular and recognizable type of gnocchi. Perfectly cooked soft potatoes are mixed with egg, salt, and just enough flour to bind the ingredients together. Their unique light and airy texture showcases and celebrates the full potato flavor.
These days you will find squashes, sweet potatoes, spinach, and a delicious array of cheeses incorporated into this once humble staple food. Gnocchi are always served with one of a myriad of beautiful and satisfying sauces such as pesto, tomato sauce, or light cream-based sauces. The grooved edges of the gnocchi offer more surface area to bind with the sauce.
Why Make Homemade Gnocchi?
Making gnocchi is a true labor of love that requires patience, commitment, and appreciation for the skills to prepare food from scratch. While there is no shortage of artisan or mass-produced gnocchi products to buy, nothing can replicate the superior flavor and tender texture of truly fresh homemade gnocchi.
Big Fall Flavor, Tiny Dumplings
This recipe forgoes the traditional potato and instead utilizes the much cherished autumnal butternut squash to impart a bright color and mildly sweet flavor to the resulting gnocchi. The squash is mixed with egg and ricotta for added creaminess and to help bind the dough. Complex and richly flavored Parmesan cheese and freshly grated nutmeg complete these gnocchi and bring them to life.
The gnocchi are complemented beautifully by the deep flavors of sage leaves and slowly browned butter, hitting all the flavor notes for a satisfying meal. The dish can also be finished off with lightly toasted nuts to add that special crunch to the otherwise soft and tender dumplings.
"This was my first time making gnocchi from scratch, and I loved it! The dough is easy to work with, and making gnocchis one by one is fun and relaxing. This recipe tastes earthy and delicious, the ultimate fall comfort food." —Bahareh Niati
For the Gnocchi
2 1/2 pounds butternut squash (1 small squash)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine salt, divided, more as needed
2/3 cup (145 grams) whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup (30 grams) freshly grated parmesan, more for serving
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
For the Brown Butter and Sage Sauce
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Steps to Make It
Prepare the Squash
Gather the ingredients. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 425 F.
Using a sharp knife, cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds using a spoon.
Place the squash halves on a rimmed baking sheet with the cut sides facing up, brush with olive oil, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Roast until the squash halves are fully cooked and tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before scooping out the flesh.
Puree the squash using a food processor or hand-held blender until completely smooth and creamy.
Place the squash puree in a saucepan over medium heat and stir frequently to remove some of the moisture. The squash should roughly resemble the consistency of a dense whipped cream.
Place 1 cup of the squash puree in a large bowl, and let cool to room temperature. The remaining squash can be reserved for other uses, such as soups or lasagna.
Make the Gnocchi Dough
Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, ricotta, parmesan, egg, and nutmeg to the bowl with the pureed squash and mix well using a rubber spatula.
Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing gently until the mixture begins to come together into a soft, pliable dough. If the dough is still sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time to bring it together.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a clean and lightly floured surface. Gently knead the dough just until it is smooth with no visible flour, 2 to 4 minutes. It is important to keep the kneading to a minimum to avoid developing gluten and toughening the gnocchi.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with a clean towel, and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour or up to overnight to firm up.
Shape the Gnocchi
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
Lightly flour a work surface. Roll out each piece of dough into a rope approximately 12 inches long and 1/2 inch thick.
Cut each rope into 1-inch segments. Lightly roll each gnocchi along the side of a lightly floured gnocchi board or against the floured tines of a fork to create a grooved texture.
Spread the gnocchi on floured baking sheets, leaving enough space between them to prevent them sticking to each other.
Cook the Gnocchi
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In three batches, transfer the gnocchi pieces to the pot and boil them until they become springy and soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Gnocchi are ready 1 to 2 minutes after they have floated to the top.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the pot and place on a large plate. Continue until all the gnocchi have been cooked.
Prepare the Brown Butter and Sage Sauce and Finish the Gnocchi
Gather the ingredients.
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook for 4 to 5 minutes while stirring frequently. The butter will begin to foam and then become golden and fragrant.
Add the sage and garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the cooked gnocchi to the skillet, add salt and pepper, and continue to gently stir until they are completely heated through, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the gnocchi to a large serving bowl and serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
- When a dish is composed of so few ingredients, the quality of the chosen ingredients becomes especially important. So be sure to check the expiration date on your all-purpose flour, use freshly grated nutmeg and Parmesan cheese, and select a ricotta that imparts sweet and creamy flavors.
- Squash can be mashed with a fork or potato masher if you don’t have a food processor or immersion blender.
- The gnocchi dough should be soft and pillowy, and the amount of flour added may vary depending on the moisture level present in the squash. It is important to add the flour gradually and mix it just until the dough comes together. Adding too much flour and/or overmixing will create a texture that is heavy and dense.
- Gnocchi dough can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days or in the freezer for up to one month.
- To freeze, sprinkle the uncooked gnocchi with flour and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover with parchment paper and lay more layers of gnocchi as needed. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 2 hours or until firm. Once firm, transfer the gnocchi pieces to an airtight container and place back in the freezer. Frozen gnocchi can be added to a pot of boiling water straight from the freezer and cooked for one additional minute.
- Cooked gnocchi can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. After cooking, drain the gnocchi and rinse with cold water until completely cooled. Alternatively, they can be plunged into an ice bath. Drain any excess liquid and toss with a small amount of olive oil to keep the pieces from sticking to one another. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Gnocchi can be reheated in a skillet with your favorite sauce.
- Pumpkin can be substituted for butternut squash.
- Gnocchi can be topped with a variety of easy to prepare sauces such as classic pesto, creamy tomato, four cheese, or walnut sauce.
- Lightly toasted walnut pieces, slivered almonds, or pine nuts can be sprinkled on top of the gnocchi to add a pleasant finishing crunch.
- Roasted vegetables are a great companion for gnocchi.
How to Store
Cooked gnocchi in sauce may not be the best candidate for storage as it tends to absorb the sauce and become sticky and mushy. If need be, it can however be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To reheat, place the gnocchi in a skillet over medium heat with a small amount of water, cover, and cook until warm.