Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage Sauce

In the fall I really like pumpkin.

Pies, breads, scones, roasted squash with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, roasted with potatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, in risotto, with pastas...

If you've never made (or eaten!) gnocchi, maybe it's time you did.
These little potato dumplings are great on a cool evening, and they're even better with the classic pumpkin/brown butter/sage combination.

Be careful when cutting the squash! It's harder than you might expect and you don't want to accidentally slip and cut yourself.

I will say that this is one of those things that if I decide to take the time for it, I go all out and make quite a bit of it. It's slightly time consuming, and a process (like tamales or Chinese steamed buns), so it's one of those things that's made only a couple of times per year- if that many times!

That said, they don't have to be perfect. In fact, they probably taste better if they don't look perfect.

The original recipe is from Bon Appetit, and this is my version of it.

When making the sauce, you want to cook the butter to a nice, nutty golden brown- beurre noisette. It will even smell nutty! The milk solids in the butter separate and sink to the bottom of the pan. Those are the bits that change color and give the flavor, not the oil part of the butter.

Beurre noisette is good for many things in cooking and baking, and adds another dimension of flavor to whatever you're making. You want the butter to reach the "nutty" color, so it will have a nutty flavor, but you have to be careful not to overcook and burn it!

Pumpkin Gnocchi
makes about 4 lbs.

1 butternut squash, about 2 1/5 lb.
1 T olive or vegetable oil
2 lb. russet potatoes
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 c Parmesan cheese
2 t (fresh) ground nutmeg
1 1/2 t salt
2 1/2 c flour

12 T butter
40 sage leaves, torn or chopped just before adding to melted butter
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place squash, cut side up, on a sheet pan and brush the cut side with oil. Bake in the oven about 1 1/2 hours, until soft and browned in spots. Cool slightly. Scoop the flesh from the squash and puree in a food processor until smooth. If the squash is slightly damp and watery, transfer to a medium saucepan and heat, stirring constantly until the juices evaporate and the puree thickens, about 5 minutes. Cool and measure 2 packed cups.
While squash is cooking, cook the potato in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water until very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. While potato is still warm, press it through a ricer into a medium bowl and let cool completely.
Measure 4 loosely packed cups of riced potato and place in a large bowl with the measured squash, 3/4 c Parmesan cheese, eggs, nutmeg, and salt. Mix. Gradually add the flour, kneading gently in the bowl until the mixture holds together and is almost smooth. If it is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently but briefly until smooth. Cut the dough into 10-12 pieces.
Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with flour. Cut off a piece of the dough and roll into a 1/2 inch thick rope on a floured surface. Cut the rope crosswise into 3/4 inch pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll gnocchi along the back of fork tines dipped in flour, making ridges on one side. Transfer the gnocchi to a baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Cover the sheets loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour.
(*These can be made up to 6 hours ahead- keep chilled.)
Working with one baking sheet at a time, cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, 15-17 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked gnocchi back to the parchment-lined baking sheets. Let cool.
(*The gnocchi can be cooked up to 8 hours ahead, re-cover with plastic after cooling, and refrigerate.)
Melt half the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring often until golden, about 3-4 minutes. Add half the chopped sage and stir 1 minute. Add half the gnocchi, cook until heated through and coated with butter, 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with extra grated Parmesan cheese.


  1. Don't you mean, butternut gnocci? Looks great, though!

  2. TECHNICALLY, you're correct.
    But, it's called a pumpkin in some places, and used as such.
    Personally I think I prefer the name "pumpkin gnocchi" anyway.

  3. This is something Canon Lenhardt would love! I am sure he will evaluate and analyze the recipe, and he will make use of your expertise and knowledge, one day when he has time, either in Bayerisch Gmain, in Switzerland or in Gricigliano.

  4. Gorgeous, gorgeous, pictures! I am always delighted to see them....if we only had smell-o-vision here.
    Have you made this with real pumpkins yet?

  5. Is this what we had?!?!?! YUM! Thank you for posting, it looks and I can attest that is tastes fabulous! I cannot wait to try and make it myself. Thanks, for going through the trouble to make this for us, Natalie!

  6. Yes, this is what you had. I think it's fun to make, but it can take a little time. You maybe lucky enough to enlist some "helpers" in your case...

  7. I got some potatoes and a squash, but intend to use the fresh thyme from my garden instead of sage. Patrick will help!