I'm not the best gnocchi maker in the world but these little pillowy dumplings are still delicious. They don't have to look good to taste good!
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Gnocchi Mutilations

Guys! I have a very important rule of cooking for you today.

Just because you are bad at making something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it.

This rule is brought to you today by the subject of gnocchi… those seemingly simple clouds of Italian lore.

For some reason, I just lose my patience with them. I know you are supposed to carefully shape each one, making perfect little fork tine marks on each measured thing. But, I lose my mind after doing this like a dozen times and just want to put the damn things in my mouth.

So, it results in me being pretty bad at shaping gnocchi.

I’m hoping you guys forgive me for the gnocchi mutilations you might see in this post. I promise they are delicious in this Butternut Squash Gnocchi, even if malformed.

I'm not the best gnocchi maker in the world but these little pillowy dumplings are still delicious. They don't have to look good to taste good!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Just a moment please...

Yield
Serves 4.
Prep Time
Total Time

Fluffy homemade gnocchi made with roasted butternut squash and served with a simple and delicious butter and sage sauce.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash, mashed
1 1/2 cups Russet potatoes, mashed
1 large egg
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping

Sage Butter sauce:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
4-6 leaves fresh sage
Pasta water
Parmesan cheese, for garnish
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Helpful Equipment

Microplane Grater

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut squash in half down the middle. Roast the squash, cut-side up, for 50-60 minutes until the flesh is fork tender.

2) When squash is roasted, remove from oven and let cool briefly. Then scrape out flesh with a fork and measure out amount for recipe and place in a bowl. Mash the squash well.

3) Meanwhile, peel and chop 2 Russet potatoes. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10-12 minutes until they are really tender. Then mash the potatoes and measure out amount for recipe. Add to the bowl with the squash.

4) Let the squash and potato mixture cool for a few minutes and then stir in egg, seasonings, cheese, and flour last. Mix dough with your hands until it’s combined, but not sticky. Depending on how moist the squash and potato was, you might need to add more flour.

5) Cut dough into quarters and roll out a quarter at a time on a floured, clean surface. Roll it out into a long rope about 1/2-inch in diameter. Then cut the gnocchi into 1/2 inch dumplings. Use a fork to press some depressions into each gnocchi. Then add the shaped gnocchi to a baking sheet covered with flour. Repeat with all the dough until your gnocchi are done.

6) At this point you can freeze the gnocchi on the baking sheet and then transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or cook them immediately in salted, simmering water for 5-6 minutes. The gnocchi might not be cooked through even after floating.

7) To make sauce for one serving of gnocchi (one quarter of the dough), add two tablespoons of butter to a small skillet over medium heat with about a teaspoon of minced sage (one big leaf). Let the butter melt and bubble for a minute or two. Then add boiled gnocchi to the skillet. Let cook, undisturbed for a few minutes until gnocchi start to crisp.

8) Add 1-2 tablespoons of pasta cooking water to the skillet to form a light sauce. Swirl to combine butter, pasta water, and pasta.

9) Serve gnocchi right away garnished with Parmesan cheese.

Roughly adapted from this Bon Appetit recipe.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Roasting Time

This Butternut Squash Gnocchi recipe has a sort of long prep time mainly because you have to roast a squash. The bad news is that this takes about an hour. The good news is that you can go do any number of other things while it roasts. It will roast just fine even if you aren’t staring at it through the oven glass door.

Roast the squash cut-side up for about an hour until it’s really tender. You should be able to easily scrape it with a fork.

Roasted butternut squash - Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Roast it up.

You won’t need more than 1/2 of a squash for this recipe so you can let the other half cool and then wrap and freeze it for later. Squash freezes perfectly for stuff like soups and, well, gnocchi.

Making the Dough

I don’t find this dough to be too hard to make, but it’s really just a patience issue when it comes to shaping the little suckers.

Mash and measure out your squash and potatoes. The potatoes are pretty important to the recipe because they have some starch to keep the gnocchi together. Just boil the potatoes in salted water and then mash them up like you would for mashed potatoes.

You can use a potato ricer if you have one or just mash them with a fork or a potato masher.

Making gnocchi dough - Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Then add in the seasonings, egg, and cheese, followed by the flour. You want just enough flour to hold the dough together, but it shouldn’t be a really dry dough. I gave a good starting point in the recipe but you might need a bit more if your potato or squash is really wet.

Shaping Pillows

Here’s the part where I start to lose my mind. (Don’t worry. It’s worth it.)

Cut the dough into quarters and then roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s in a long strand. It might be too fragile to actually roll out, but you should be able to shape it into a strand of some sort.

Rolling out gnocchi dough - Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Dough rolled.

Then just chop it up into little 1/2-inch dumplings.

To be honest, you could just quit here if you wanted.

Cutting gnocchi - Butternut Squash Gnocchi

So far so good…

If you want to get official though, then you need to roll your fork across each individual gnocchi. Some will work better than others. The far gnocchi in the bottom right is damn near perfect.

Some are utter disasters.

They all cook the same though. Don’t freak out about it unless you are opening an Italian restaurant.

Flouring gnocchi - Butternut Squash Gnocchi

A bit rough…

Cooking the Gnocchi

Once you have rolled, cut, and shaped all the Butternut Squash Gnocchi, you have two options.

Option 1) Freeze them! Freeze the little guys on the baking sheet with flour and once they are frozen transfer them to a freezer-safe bag. They will keep fine in the freezer for months.

Option 2) Cook them! Bring some salted water to a simmer and add the little dumplings. These will need to boil for 5-6 minutes to cook through.

Boiling the Butternut Squash Gnocchi

A quick boil.

The best sauce for these Butternut Squash Gnocchi is a simple butter and sage sauce.

Add a few tablespoons of butter and fresh sage to a skillet over medium heat.

Butter sauce for Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Sauce basics.

When the butter is melted, add the drained, cooked gnocchi and let the gnocchi crisp up in the butter for 1-2 minutes over medium heat.

If the skillet is really dry, add a tablespoon or two of pasta water to the skillet to make a light sauce.

Saucing gnocchi - Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Everybody in the pan.

When the gnocchi has crisped up in the pan a bit, swirl it all together and serve it garnished with Parmesan cheese and fresh sage.

Butternut squash gnocchi via Macheesmo.

These were really good.

Even though I really dislike shaping gnocchi for some reason, I still make them because they are just so good. They are pretty hard to actually mess up even if they turn out not looking restaurant quality.

Trust me when I say that your family will gobble them up.

Repeat after me: Take a deep breath. Roast a squash. Make some gnocchi. Don’t stress about the fork thing. Eat it all.

23 comments on “Gnocchi Mutilations

  1. DUDE. You NEED a gnocchi board. One million times easier than the fork. I have this one, or something similar, and it works beautifully. http://www.amazon.com/Fox-Run-Wooded-Gnocchi-Board/dp/B007L5ROZQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413384508&sr=8-2&keywords=gnocchi+board

    Also this guy is using a pasta dough, not a gnocchi dough (I think he’s making maloreddus, a Sardinian pasta) but it’s the same way you shape gnocchi, you just don’t press as hard. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f11josyOr-s

    1. How have I never seen such a thing?! I’m generally against uni-taskers but that might actually be worth it to me. I think I would make gnocchi so much more with something like that in my kitchen… thanks for the tip!

  2. These look delicious. I have made gnocchi and it is an all day, invite your best friend, type of recipe. I froze mine and they do have a long freezer life if wrapped tightly. Buon appetito!

  3. I was going to say that I have never used a fork for gnocchi, that I have a little ribbed paddle. However, someone beat me to it. It’s super fast and super easy to use. Gnocchi are labor intensive and I tend to only make them for someone who appreciates the time spent.

  4. Several years ago when I was dating my now-husband, he worked at a family-owned Italian restaurant. The homemade gnocchi with tomato-basil sauce was THE best and I will forever crave it, never be able to exactly replicate it. The perfect potato pillows looked like ravioli – they were square, somewhat large, and so, so tasty.
    The first time I ever saw a little fork-indented gnocchi was at a store, and I’ve since seen them in restaurants. I don’t understand why they need to be shaped that way. I made gnocchi for the first time several weeks ago, and my large, square ravioli-shaped potato-pillow-puffs were perfect. No fork needed :)

    1. The story is that those little indents are supposed to help the sauce stick to the dumplings which I guess is true, but I agree with you that it’s not completely necessary!

  5. So…you don’t fold the filling INSIDE a gnocchi, you just mix the flour together WITH the squash/potato mixture? Or am I missing a step where you fold the filling inside your gnocchi ropes of dough? I would looove to do this with my kids, we love filled pastas, but want to be sure I get the drift here.

    1. Nope! Gnocchi is just dumplings that are boiled but they don’t have a filling like a ravioli. Makes them way more doable!

  6. Can these be made with sweet potatoes or do you suggest sticking with russet for the starch content?

    1. I think you need the starch from the russet. They would be pretty fragile with sweet potatoes… not impossible, but definitely would be harder to shape. Let me know if you try it out!

      1. I make gnocchi all the time without potatoes – using sweet potatoes or squash instead. The consistency changes a bit, you’ll find you need more flour. BUT it’s generally not a problem, it’s just about figuring out how much you need (I also don’t usually add egg to my mix). Using sweet potatoes or squash is a great way to make gnocchi more acceptable for exclusionary diets – just use alternative flour instead.

  7. This might be a silly question. But if you freeze them, when you’re ready to make them, can they go straight into the water or do they need to defrost first?

  8. I made these twice, the first time it took me two hours but I wasn’t organized. I also had to use about double the amount of flour. In the first round about a third of the way through I gave up the fork trick and just cut them to size and cooked them.
    The second time I made these it went a lot faster and I even made a double batch so I would have another several meals out of the process and I froze them. Nothing more impressive than having Italians over for dinner praising your gnocchi! :-)

    1. Hey Mandy! Double the flour! Yikes… I wonder why your version would’ve had so much more moisture?? Anyway, nice work trekking on and finishing them. Glad they turned out okay!

  9. Why not shape the dough into a roll then use a fork to texture it and THEN cut it into sections?

  10. These are excellent. It was my first attempt making homemade Gnocci. Mine were too wet,I was afraid to add more flower. Next time,more flower.
    My neighbor makes homemade Gnocci she rolls them in little balls like mini snickerdoodles. I tried them both ways and,both cooked up nicely.

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