Pumpkin Gnocchi with a Brown-Butter Sage Sauce

A few Saturdays ago, Ursela and I spent a solid 4.5 hours in a windowless building on campus and took the LSAT. Last Saturday, we received our scores. While not disappointed, our immediate, over-achieving student reaction was to hyperventilate and worry about the admissions process. After a series of phone calls with our mothers, several gchats with Megan, and a powwow with one of our best friends on campus, we decided that the best way to cure the freak-out bug was to cook.

We had both been craving a savory dish with pumpkin ever since a trip to Butler’s Orchard in mid-October, and Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for pumpkin gnocchi seemed perfect for our mood. Having spent a semester abroad in Italy, I associate a lot of Italian food with comfort, and both Ursela and I have a thing for homemade pasta.

While making pasta from scratch seems daunting, gnocchi is actually very simple to make. I am personally a huge fan of Lidia Bastianich’s recipe for potato gnocchi, and her technique is useful whenever making a variation of the dish. We decided to listen to Emeril and go with the brown-butter and sage sauce, which pairs really well with slightly heavier pasta dishes. This makes a ton of pasta, so be sure to freeze some and save for later.

With no further ado, I give you our recipe for pumpkin gnocchi.

Pumpkin Gnocchi in a Brown-Butter Sage Sauce

(adapted from Emeril Legasse)

*Note: Emeril calls for ½ cup of pumpkin puree. Ursela and I really like pumpkin, so we added extra. This just requires you to incorporate a little bit more flour when kneading the dough. You will also notice that we did not use much salt. As long as you salt your water well when cooking the gnocchi, it will still taste really good; this just gives you more control over salt intake.


  • 1½ lbs of russet potatoes (scrubbed clean)
  • ½ – ¾ cup of pumpkin puree
  • ¼ – ½ cup of parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of allspice
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 6 oz (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup of chopped sage leaves, plus a few extra for serving
  • Grated or shaved parmesan cheese for topping

Equipment required:

  • Ricer or food mill
  • Clean kitchen towels (we used two)
  • Large pot
  • Large bowl
  • Large pan
  • Baking sheet for freezing extra gnocchi


  • Boil your potatoes with the skin still on. This step takes the longest, but you need to make sure that the potatoes are tender before you can rice them. This takes anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes. Be careful not to over-boil your potatoes – this will make your pasta mushy.
  • While the potatoes boil, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Mix together your pumpkin, egg, cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt and pepper. Fold in your ¼ – ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese.
  • Once the potatoes are tender, allow them to cool for a few minutes. Then, remove the skins and put chunks of potato through the ricer or food mill.
  • Spread out the potatoes on a kitchen towel as you rice them. This prevents the development of excess starch and dries the potato out a little so that you do not wind up with mushy gnocchi.
  • Add the potatoes to the pumpkin mixture, mixing gently with your hands. Begin adding in your flour, a ½ cup at a time. Continue mixing with your hands until you form smooth, but slightly-sticky dough.
  • Sprinkle your countertop with flour. Place the dough on your countertop and knead for a few minutes, incorporating flour until the dough is smooth and looks a bit like cottage cheese when you cut into it.

Ideal texture

  • Cut the dough into 6 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll into a long rope with about a ½ inch diameter. Cut into about ½ inch pieces.

Roll out your dough

  • Holding a fork at a 45。angle, roll each piece of dough across the tines of the fork, indenting with your thumb as you roll. This takes some practice, but, once you get a hang of it, this goes really quickly.
  • Spread the gnocchi on kitchen towels as you continue to work through the dough.

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt well. Add the gnocchi in one-at-a-time, being sure not to crowd the pot (we cooked about 30 at a time in a 6 qt. pot). Once the gnocchi rise to the surface, let them cook for 2-3 additional minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon.
  • For the sauce: in a large pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Let the butter foam a little, then add in your sage. Lower your heat. Once the butter has reached a nutty-hazelnut color, remove from heat. Add in your gnocchi and toss gently to combine.
  • Plate the gnocchi and serve with a garnish of fresh sage leaves and a light dusting of parmesan.

As previously mentioned, this makes a lot of gnocchi. To freeze your excess gnocchi, spread the uncooked gnocchi out on a baking sheet so that they are not touching. Freeze for 15-20 minutes; then, transfer to a resealable freezer bag. To cook frozen gnocchi, simply boil for an extra minute or two.

Makes 100+ gnocchi. Serves 6.



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