Welcome fall with these pillowy, soft pumpkin gnocchi paired with crispy, fried sage, wild mushroom and a delectably creamy sauce. All my favorite fall flavors all together in this comforting pastalike but no-it's-not-pasta dish.
If you're as ready for fall as I am, I am sure you have already made a huge batch of apple cider, the popular pumpkin spice latte and perhaps even Jack O'Lantern bell peppers. If you haven't yet, this was your cue.
They are popular for a reason, and so are pumpkin pasta and pumpkin gnocchi. There's something about pairing delicious pumpkin with all things comfort, ranging from warming spices, to heavy cream (umm hello pumpkin crème brûlée!), to mushroom and parmesan. It is perfect for sweet and savory, which I suppose is one of the reasons why it is so popular.
But you didn't come here for me talking about how much I love fall and pumpkins, so let's get to all the things we want to know about gnocchi and pumpkin gnocchi!
Is gnocchi pasta or potato?
Gnocchi isn't pasta. It is more like a potato dumpling. However, gnocchi and pasta are both quite plain in flavor, they are starchy and carby and thus they both work well in many of the same sauces. Like this creamy mushroom sauce! It's like if your Dad asks what you're serving him, for ease you just say 'pasta'.
If you like pasta, my bet is that you will like gnocchi as well. And in case you wondered (I know you wondered), gnocchi is pronounced ny-okee. Now you sound just like an Italian ready to get their hands into gnocchi making.
Are they gluten-free?
No, they are not, unfortunately. Hence also why they resemble pasta so much. Flour is used as a binder, but if you want to make them gluten-free, I suggest you should look for another recipe as it isn't just to mix in 1:1 gluten free flour. Gluten Free Baking uses starchy potatoes, rice flour and sweet rice flour!
So you may wonder what other ingredients are needed to make gnocchi (or pumpkin gnocchi/butternut squash gnocchi) and really, it is just a handful of simple ingredients:
- Sugar pumpkin or butternut squash
- All-purpose flour
- Freshly ground pepper and nutmeg
I definitely always prefer to use butternut squash (I even use that in my homemade pumpkin puree recipe) because it is the best tasting of the bunch and they have pretty much the same characteristics other that the butternut squash doesn't look as cool. The potato is there to help bind things up, as there is more liquid in pumpkin than in potatoes which can make it hard to shape the gnocchi.
You can make pumpkin gnocchi without potato, but only if your pumpkin pulp is super dry. It usually isn't, and potatoes are gooood so I'm also good with adding it. However, you may want to dry out your pumpkin pulp even longer if that is of preference.
What to serve with gnocchi
Gnocchi is traditionally eaten with a variety of different hearty sauces, ranging from butter sauces to creamy sauces and anything in-between. Gnocchi are also often only eaten in small portions as an appetizer and thus they are usually not served with a lot of side dishes.
However, because this mushroom cream sauce is so good, a tiny little appetizer won't do it for me. Nope. Give me a full plate of pumpkin gnocchi, please. So to lighten it up, I like to serve it with my garlic butter kale, parmesan green beans or even crispy brussels sprouts.
Just a little green really makes a difference!
And because it is so tedious to make pumpkin gnocchi, I really opted for an easy cream sauce and garlic butter kale (which takes literally 3 minutes). However, this cream sauce is kind of based off of my honey mustard cream sauce which has a couple of more ingredients and steps but it honestly is an easy sauce as well. I think that sauce is like the mother of all sauces, but this is pretty epic too.
I just wanted to let you know that it exists as well.
Crispy sage butter is also a very common sauce to serve with both regular gnocchi and pumpkin gnocchi. All you have to do is to melt butter, increase temperature to medium high and add in whole sage leaves.
Add in gnocchi and pan-fry a little and you are done! I like to brown the butter a little first too, which just means you melt the butter a little longer for it to taste more nutty. I have a more thorough explanation for that in this wild mushroom ravioli.
Pumpkin gnocchi recipe
Pumpkin gnocchi recipes usually always include boiled potato as well. This is because pumpkin has more water and the starch in the potato helps bind the gnocchi dough together. If you have really dry pumpkin pulp, then you may get away without potato. Pre-heat oven to fan 350F (180C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Start by boiling a peeled potato and cut the peeled and cleaned pumpkin (or butternut squash, butternut squash gnocchi taste more = even more pumpkiny) into thin slices and place on the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes.
While the potato and butternut squash are still warm, crush them with a potato ricer or the shredder attachment on the food processor (6-7). If this is really watery, you may need to run the mixture through a cheesecloth.
Mix the flour with salt, pepper and nutmeg and pour on to a clean working surface. Shape it like a fountain with a well in the center and add the pumpkin mixture (8). Give it a quick mix with your hands before making a new fountain (9).
In a small bowl, quickly whisk the egg. Pour it into the well (10) and shape the dough into a rectangular brick (11). Work the dough as quickly and little as possible in order to not overdevelop the gluten (dense gnocchi) and the starch hasn't had time to make everything ridiculously sticky.
Cut the dough in 6 slices (12). You may need to use a lot of flour to cut and shape the gnocchi. I dipped my knife in flour each time I cut the dough so it wouldn't stick. Take 1 of the 6 slices and shape it into a thin cylinder, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and cut them in ½ inch (≈1 cm) long pieces (13).
You can either leave them as is (15), which is much easier considering this dough is really light and sticky. Or you can try to shape them on a gnocchi board or with a fork (14). I tried both and in the end I don't think it mattered what I did. Once the gnocchi boils they fluff up and the shapes were almost unrecognizable.
I know my gnocchi kind of aren't the prettiest, but I can assure you that by working with less flour, it will make them fluffier and I'm all about the texture in my mouth and not what I see with my eyes! That is also why most of my cakes don't have the picture-perfect slice - they are too moist and with delicious, sometimes plumpy, fillings - this fresh strawberry cake is proof of that.
Leave them on a floured towel, making sure they do not touch each other. At this stage you can freeze them and continue with the recipe another day (freeze on a tray for 2+ hours, then you can add them to bags, or else they will just stick together), or you can boil them right away. Just make sure the sauce is done before you boil them!
Some say the gnocchi turn out fluffier when you freeze them first, but that was not my experience. I could not tell the fresh and the frozen apart. But you can just boil them straight from frozen, making them an ideal meal-prep option for fancy date nights.
The chanterelle cream sauce
The chanterelle cream sauce is quite easy to make. First brown the butter, it's easier to see the browning in a light bottomed skillet, but it isn't a deal breaker. Melt the butter and let it cook for about 7 minutes or until it smells nutty (2). If you go with option 1 below, then add the sage leaves and let them fry for 30 seconds, take them out and place on a paper towel. If you go with option 2, wait with the sage.
Now add the chanterelles* (white button mushroom works too) and shallot onion and cook until the mushroom is soft and the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes (3-4). Take out the mushroom mix and add in the rest of the ingredients apart from the parmesan cheese (5).
Let this simmer for 15 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper in the end if needed (6). Then you can add the mushroom mix back in.
* You can also use frozen chanterelles that have already been cooked. I use about 350 grams of cooked chanterelles for this recipe. Thaw them before reheating. You can use whatever mushrooms you want as well, like white button or cremini.
Do you boil or pan fry - or both?
You can just boil them and put them right into the sauce, or you can boil them and then pan fry them. Boil a big pot of salted water and add about ¼ of the gnocchi into the water. Let it boil until the gnocchi start to rise in the pan (about a minute or two), take them out with a slotted spoon.
In the image below (1) I have frozen gnocchi, but you can use fresh as well, I couldn't really tell the difference between the two!
- Option 1: Add the boiled gnocchi directly into the cream sauce. Make sure you have fried the sage leaves in the first step of making the sauce.
- Option 2: Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high and melt butter until it smells nutty. Boil the gnocchi and then add them to the cast iron skillet. A minute or so on each side, the last 30 seconds you can add the sage leaves so they crisp up.
To be honest, I love option 2. That slight crisp exterior and soft interior are amazing. Just look at that beaut! Add the cooked gnocchi to serving bowls, ladle the sauce on top and sprinkle with the crispy sage leaves. Enjoy!
Did you like this recipe? Here are more comforting dishes I think you would like:
- Creamy Parmesan Pumpkin Pasta
- Extra Veggie Tomato Bolognese
- Ginger and Coconut Lentil Curry
- Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Moroccan Harissa Chicken and Butternut Squash
- Super Simple Tomato White Bean Soup
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