Butternut squash ricotta gnocchi

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Gnocchi is my absolute favorite dish to order at Italian restaurants. Here’s a little secret – it tastes even better when you make it at home! I know that making homemade pasta sounds like a daunting task, but making homemade gnocchi is actually pretty simple! In fact, gnocchi is probably the easiest type of pasta to make from scratch. 

I perfected my potato gnocchi recipe years ago. Recently, I have been working on a new gnocchi recipe. This butternut squash gnocchi recipe is the result of that endeavor. This recipe is even easier to make than my potato gnocchi recipe – no need to peel half a dozen potatoes! This recipe for butternut squash gnocchi is also gluten free, vegetarian, egg free, and nut free. 

gluten free butternut squash ricotta gnocchi

Roasting a butternut squash

The first step for making butternut squash gnocchi is roasting up a butternut squash. Here are the steps you have to go through to roast the butternut squash.

  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise. I’m going to level with you – cutting the butternut squash open might just be the most difficult part about making butternut squash gnocchi. You are best off using a high quality chef’s knife (this the exact knife we use) that will slice through the squash like butter. Make sure not to use a knife that is too thin or too dull as it will make the process a lot harder.
  • Scoop out the seeds. Scoop the seeds and the stringy bits surrounding the seeds out of the bulb of the butternut squash.
  • Brush the squash with oil. Brush both halves of the butternut squash with olive oil.
  • Roast the squash. Roast the squash with the flesh facing upward so that the moisture is able to escape from the squash as it cooks.

Creating the butternut squash gnocchi dough

Once the squash is roasted, you need to create the gnocchi dough. Here are some tips for making dough for butternut squash ricotta gnocchi. 

  • Start with the recommended ingredients. You should start out by mixing 1 1/2 cups of gluten free all purpose flour, 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 1 cup of butternut squash, and 1 tsp of olive oil. Depending on how much moisture is in your roasted butternut squash, you might need to add a little more flour. 
  • Add more flour if the dough is overly sticky. You want the dough to be a little sticky, but not so sticky that it gets stuck to your hands and falls apart when you try to shape it. If the dough is too sticky to work with, you should add extra flour to the dough 1 tbsp at a time until it becomes easier to work with. 
  • Add a little water if the dough is too dry. If the dough is too dry and crumbly you can add water 1 tsp at a time until it comes together. It is unlikely that you will need to add additional water to your dough. This will only happen if the squash dries out a lot in the oven. 
  • Try rolling the dough out into snakes to test the consistency. If you are not sure whether your dough is ready or not, you can always try rolling it out to see if it is able to hold its shape. If you are able to roll balls of dough out into long snakes (consult the picture below for clarification) then your dough is ready.
  • Ricotta gnocchi are meant to be a little more sticky than potato gnocchi. If you have made gnocchi before, you will notice that this dough is a little stickier than standard gnocchi dough. Do not be alarmed, this is because of the ricotta cheese.

gluten free butternut squash ricotta gnocchi

Shaping butternut squash gnocchi

After you make your gnocchi dough, it is time to shape your gnocchi. Here is how to shape your gnocchi. 

  • Prepare your working surface. Before you shape the gnocchi, you need to prepare a surface to work on. You should lay out a large piece of parchment paper on a flat tabletop and sprinkle some gluten free all purpose flour on it.
  • Roll the dough into thin snakes. Grab a handful of gnocchi dough that is 2-3 inches in diameter. This should be able to fit easily in the palm of your hand. Start to roll the dough into a tube in the palm of your hand. Once the tube gets too long to hold in your hand, you should roll the tube on the parchment paper until you get a long snake that is about half an inch in diameter. You should roll the snake out relatively thin. The gnocchi will get a little wider when you press grooves into it and the gnocchi will get a little bigger when you boil it.
  • Cut the snakes into individual gnocchi. Now you just need to grab a fork and cut the snake into pieces that are about 1 inch long. 
  • Add grooves to the gnocchi (optional). If you want, you can form groves in the gnocchi by pressing the bottom of the fork against it (pictured below). This is not strictly required, but it will help the gnocchi collect more sauce. Dust the gnocchi with flour when you are done to keep pieces from sticking together.  

gluten free butternut squash ricotta gnocchi

Cooking butternut squash gnocchi

Good news! Once you are done shaping your gnocchi, you are done with the hard part. Cooking gnocchi is notoriously easy because it lets you know when it is done. When you first put the gnocchi in the pot of boiling water, it will sink to the bottom. Once the gnocchi is done cooking, it will float to the top of the water and you can collect it with a slotted spoon.

Note that you might need to cook your gnocchi in batches. You should only have one or two layers of gnocchi on the bottom of your pot when you cook it. I generally cook my gnocchi in 3-4 batches. The good thing is that a single batch of gnocchi takes only about 3 minutes to cook.

Making gnocchi hold its shape

Here are a few tips for making sure your gnocchi holds its shape.

  • Dry out the squash. Make sure that your squash has a relatively low moisture content when it comes out of the oven. You should cut your butternut squash in half and cook it with the flat side down. If you do not do this, water will pool in the bowl formed in the bulb of the butternut squash and sink into the flesh. 
  • Dust your gnocchi with flour. Dust your gnocchi with flour when you are done shaping them to prevent it from sticking together. 
  • Keep the stove at a gentle boil. When you cook your gnocchi, you should keep the water at a gentle boil. If the stove is turned up too high and the gnocchi is getting tossed around a lot when it cooks it is more likely to deform. 

Can you freeze gnocchi?

You can absolutely freeze gnocchi! I often make double batches of gnocchi and freeze one batch for later. It is best to freeze gnocchi before you cook it so that it does not have a high water content. Simply dust the gnocchi with flour, dump the gnocchi into a plastic freezer bag, and store it for up to 3 months. 

Butternut squash gnocchi

This butternut squash gnocchi is coasted in a delicious butter sage sauce.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Inactive time (roasting squash)1 hr
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Keyword: egg free, nut free, vegetarian
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

Roasted butternut squash

  • 1 butternut squash (you will only need to use half of a small squash for this recipe)
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Butternut squash gnocchi

  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour (keep at least an extra 1/4 cup around to add as needed)
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Butter sage sauce

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

Roasted butternut squash

  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds
  • Brush the squash halves with olive oil and cook in the oven with the flat side down for 1 hour
  • Scoop the flesh out of the butternut squash and mash it with a fork or a potato masher

Butternut squash gnocchi

  • Combine all of the gnocchi ingredients in a large bowl and mix to make the dough
  • Grab a ball of dough that fits in the palm of your hand and roll it out into long snakes that are about 1/2 inch in diameter (see section on shaping gnocchi for more detail)
  • Use a fork to cut the snakes into 1 inch pieces of gnocchi. If you want to create grooves, press the bottom of the fork down over each piece of gnocchi (see section on shaping gnocchi for more detail)
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a layer or two of gnocchi to the bottom of the pot. Cook the gnocchi for about 3 minutes or until they float to the surface of the water. Remove the gnocchi from the pot with a slated spoon

Butter sage sauce

  • Combine all ingredients in a pan and warm over medium low heat. Add the gnocchi to the pan and cook the gnocchi in the pan for a few minutes.

Notes

Tips for measuring flour. We recommend measuring flour by spooning the flour into a measuring cup then leveling off the flour with a butter knife. This is the most consistent way to measure flour. If you dip your measuring cup into the bag of flour, it will compress the flour and you will end up with extra flour. 

Tools & ingredients for making gnocchi

Here are some of the ingredients and tools that we use when we make butternut squash ricotta gnocchi. We included a recommendation for our favorite chef’s knife because it is so hard (and potentially dangerous) to cut a squash open with a knife that is too small or too dull.



Substitutions for butternut squash gnocchi

  • Gluten free all purpose flour. If you do not have a gluten intolerance you can use regular all purpose flour rather than gluten free all purpose flour.
  • Sage. If you do not have any sage lying around, you can substitute the sage with rosemary. The flavor will be different, but rosemary also goes excellently with butternut squash.
  • Heavy cream. If you do not have any heavy cream then you can leave the heavy cream out of the sauce and add some extra butter instead. 

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