Thursday, October 14, 2010

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Spinach Sauce and Beurre Noisette

I can now check another item off the list of things I've never made before...Gnocchi! Last week, at the Farmers' Market, I scored a small bushel of butternut squash.

I don't have one of those cute little gnocchi boards to roll gnocchi (since I've never made them before) but it's on my wish list now.  I found this wonderful You Tube video on how to make traditional gnocchi.  It was very helpful to me on how to mix, roll and shape the gnocchi.  Since I used butternut squash instead of potatoes, however, I found these gnocchi a little soft because of the higher water content of the squash. Leaving them in the classic pillow shape was just right.

I actually baked the squash two days before and mixed, formed and boiled the gnocchi the day before I served it. This helped me strain any excess moisture out of the squash and made the last minute prep a breeze. The gnocchi was simply sauteed in browned butter to reheat it before serving with the freshly-made spinach sauce.

I was truly in butternut squash and pasta heaven!  If you've never tried making gnocchi, give it a try!  It's not difficult, especially when made in stages as I did.

Edit: Last night I forgot to add a photo of my favorite way to grate fresh nutmeg which is used in this recipe.  I use a microplane grater.  If you've never had freshly grated nutmeg you are missing out on a real treat!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Spinach Sauce & Beurre Noisette
Adapted from The Pasta Bible by Christian Teubner, Silvio Rizzi and Tan Lee Leng
Printable Recipe

*My recipe includes directions for preparing the butternut squash two days ahead and the gnocchi one day ahead. You can do everything the same day, if desired.

For the gnocchi you will need:

1 small butternut squash, about 1 to 1-1/2 pounds
1 egg
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1/2 freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper (about 1 rounded tsp and 1/2 tsp respectively)

For the spinach sauce you will need:

1/2 pound fresh spinach
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup white wine (I actually substituted Pom Juice since I didn't have a bottle of wine open. It worked great!)
1/2 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon cream (I used half & half)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
freshly grated nutmeg

To serve you will need:

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons butter, melted and lightly browned (beurre noisette)

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the squash on a baking sheet and pierce with a sharp knife in several places. Bake for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until a knife can be inserted easily. Allow the squash to cool until easy to handle and cut it in half. Remove the seeds and fiber and scoop out the flesh with a large spoon and force it through a potato ricer. You will need about 1 packed cup of riced squash. Alternately, you can place the flesh in a food processor until lightly pureed. You just don't want any lumps. *At this point, I placed the squash in a fine-meshed strainer over a bowl, covered and refrigerated it and allowed the excess moisture to drain out overnight.

To make the gnocchi:

Mix the riced or pureed and strained squash with the egg, flour, Parmesan, salt and pepper and work into a smooth dough. If the dough is still sticky, add a little more flour. Taking plum-sized pieces of dough, roll into a rope about 1/2 thick on a floured surface. With a knife, cut the rope into pieces about 1 inch wide. They will resemble a pillow. Dust with more flour, if necessary, to keep them from sticking together. Repeat with the rest of the dough. I left the gnocchi in the pillow shape because they were a little too soft to roll into traditional gnocchi shapes on a gnocchi board or over a fork. I'm sure this is a result of the squash having more water content than gnocchi made with potatoes.

Have a large bowl of ice water ready near your cooking area. Cook the gnocchi in batches in salted boiling water for about 5 minutes or until the gnocchi rise to the surface. Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi when they are done and place in the bowl full of ice water to stop the cooking. (Or, instead of putting them in ice water, you can serve immediately). When all the gnocchi are cooked and chilled in the ice bath, drain and place in a bowl. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the gnocchi overnight.*

To make the spinach sauce:

Wash and trim the spinach. In a saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Sauté the onion until softened. Add the spinach, toss and cook until wilted. Puree the spinach mixture in a food processor. Combine the pomegranate juice and meat stock in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to about 1/2 cup. Add the spinach puree and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and the cream. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly and keep warm.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the 6 tablespoons of butter (I used less) and allow it to brown lightly. Drain most of the butter into a pyrex dish leaving enough in the pan to saute the gnocchi. Add the already-cooled gnocchi and saute until heated through, adding more browned butter, if needed.

Place the spinach sauce on a serving plate, add the sauteed gnocchi and drizzle the rest of the browned butter over the top. Add grated Parmesan and serve.

*Notes: The squash can be baked, riced and allowed to drain two days before serving and the gnocchi can be prepared the day before serving.


  1. Thanks...this recipe looks delicious and we have such an abundance of butternut squash!

  2. I have never made gnocchi with butternut! It sounds wonderful, and looks delicious! I will try it.
    Thanks for the recipe, Susan, and congrats on being first on the list! :)

  3. This looks wonderful, I have never made gnocchi but maybe one day! I like store bought and I am sure this is better.

  4. Susan-this looks and sounds amazing! Gnocchi has been on my list for quite a while! I actually saved a 2 page e-article titled "How to Make Gnocchi Like an Italian Grandmother":@)

  5. I've made gnocchi before, but not butternut gnocchi! I think my Miss Picky will absolutely hands down love this recipe! Yours looks fantastic!

  6. WOW! This recipe looks great! I've never tried gnocci, but I would love to try this version for sure -- the flavor combinations sound fantastic! Thanks so much for visiting EKat's Kitchen!

  7. Now this is my kind of dish! You've captured some of my favorite flavors and I never would have thought to use a spinach sauce with the gnocchi. YUM!

  8. Susan, so funny..this is on my list too! There has been a recipe for gnocchi is almost every food magazine in the last month!! Your sounds delicious.

  9. Cheers to you! Your gnocchi looks amazing.

  10. you made gnocchi so proud of you I need to do it next it looks perfect

  11. I adore gnocchi! They are such a special pasta. I made gnocchi once with potatoes, I think I may have been 10 years old when I made it, but it didn't turn out all that great. This post has me inspired to give this old classic another try.

  12. Your butternut squash gnocchi looks lovely. Like others have said, I haven't made this kind of gnocchi, but just white potato gnocchi. Your pictures are beautiful. Joni

  13. These photos are straight out of a magazine!!! Wow, my mouth is watering and I am printing this one off right now. I adore gnocchi and love to make it. I have some butternuts in the garden right now and they are so precious that I want to make something special and this fits the bill.

  14. Susan, I checked butternut squash gnocchi off my list last year, and I know how you are feeling right about now! They are one of my favorite fall dishes. Your photos are perfection!

  15. I have never tried making gnocchi. It is something that I want to do. I am bookmarking your recipe to try it as I love sweet flavors in my food. You did an excellent job with these gnocchi.

  16. Bravissima questi gnocchi sono buonissimi!!! un bacio :))

  17. Susan - your pictures never fail to make my mouth water!


  18. I tried making potato gnocchi once, loved it! Now I have to try with squash!

  19. Not only are the photos appetizing..but the gnocchi looks sooo good..and soft:)

  20. Your butternut squash gnocchi looks delicious. I have never eaten gnocchi before. This looks really interesting.

  21. Oh my goodness does this look and sound delicious. I do love butternut squash, but have only eaten gnocchi once (never thought to try and make it) you have inspired me!

  22. this recipe for gnocchi sounds so good. thank you for sharing this recipe i love it, the pictures on this site are so beautilful.

  23. You know, I've made gnocchi many times before but always with tons of brown butter so it is delicious but too rich... the spinach is a fabulous idea (and as you noticed, I have pomegranate juice!) I will make it this week after my trip to the farmer's market! Thanks for the great recipe, Susan!

  24. I love making gnocchi, and yours looks absolutely delicious! I especially love the look of that sauce you prepared. -

  25. Thanks for your sweet comments. After you asked about Beaulah having a sister, I decided to show pictures of both. You can see it at the top of my sidebar now. Joni started with her cookie jar and when she found out that Jean had given me one too, she thought I should showcase mine. She has done a much cuter job than I have, but it has been fun. She said she is sure that everyone thinks it is the same cookie jar, but there really are two, and such a cutie she is.

  26. Potato gnocchi never appealed to me, but butternut is a whole other creation. May have to give this a try. I'll probably sub Swiss chard for the spinach.

    PS ... bought Jarlsberg today. Plan to make your baked onion dip this weekend.

  27. Gnocci is on my list too, but it's not yet crossed off. This one is really tempting me though...that butternut is calling my name!

  28. Oh, funny story, we had gnocci this week with a butternut sauce! It was delicious. I bought the gnocci . . . I'm sure yours was much better! It looks delicious! I don't think you need one of those fancy machines. I saw Maryanne Esposito roll them off a fork - she's a wonderful cook! She's from NH.

  29. I love squash and I love gnocchi. This looks like the dish for me.

  30. These gnocchi look amazing! I've always wanted to make butternut squash gnocchi (in my wildest butternut squash dreams) but haven't done it yet. When I do, I think I'm going to have to make this recipe. That sauce just looks beyond delicious.

  31. I love these pumpkin squash beauties so much. They look totally irresistible!

  32. Just discovered you!
    You have a great blog;I've never been brave enough to make gnocchi; you make it sound easy.
    Lovely photos.

  33. Susan

    Thanks to you I know what I am going to do next with these pumpkin and squashes we got from the orchard. These look so delicious with the spinach sauce !

  34. I've never made gnocchi either. Between you and Joanne, I am inspired. It seems a perfect fall dish and I have stocked up on butternut squash. I'm putting it near the top of my "to make" pile.

    Have a great weekend.


  35. I've never made it either. This looks incredible. I'm bookmarking now.

  36. mi piace moltissimo fare gli gnocchi! questo tuo piatto è super invitante!!!come sempre Bravissima Susan!!un abbraccio!

  37. I love everything about this dish. I made sweet potato gnocchi for Thanksgiving last year and they were delicious, very similar to how your squash gnocchi sounds. I served mine with a brown butter-sage sauce, but I love your spinach idea.

  38. i came upon this post from a site called they posted a pic of my pear salad without my permission and i saw your pic on the same post, which can be found here. i thought you should, on the chance they didn't ask your permission either.

    they have since taken down my image.

  39. Thank you for letting me know, AA! I looked at the site and as long as they have credited me with the photo and linked back to my blog I don't mind.

  40. This was quite delicious. I had to use quite a bit more flour though. Thanks for the recipe. :)

  41. Glad you enjoyed the recipe, Lily! Sometimes, different humidity situations affect the amount of flour - glad more flour worked for you.

  42. THanks for posting this Susan. It will be the perfect dish to bring to my Italian Themed Supper Club dinner. Since we're abundant w/ basil here, I thought it would be tasty to do 50% spinach and 50% basil in the sauce. Can you tell me how many First course servings this recipe would yield?

    1. I apologize for being so late in replying to your question, Terese! We've been out of town and I didn't have time to use a computer.

      It's been a while since I've made this, but I would guess it would make approximately 4 first course servings. I hope you enjoy it!


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