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Posted on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:10 a.m.

Pumpkin gnocchi with sage brown butter sauce - a perfect fall dish

By Jessica Webster


Pumpkin adds a fall flavor to an Italian classic.

Jessica Webster |

Duke Ellington is credited with saying that there are only two types of music: good and bad. In the same vein, I’ve found that there are two types of people: the ones who love pumpkin pie and the ones who hate it.

I’ve tried, many times, for years even, to like pumpkin pie, but no dice. My dislike of pumpkin pie has even extended to pumpkin spice lattes and other autumn-themed foods.

But I’ve always felt like I was missing out on something. There has to be a reason why everyone else associates fall with the eating of the orange gourd. For this reason, and because pumpkins are loaded with vitamin A and antioxidant carotenoids, I’ve spent way too much time looking for pumpkin recipes that I can tolerate.

I think I’ve found it with this gnocchi recipe. The nutritious pumpkin replaces the potato in traditional gnocchi recipes, and the little fluffy pumpkin pillows have only the slightest hint of jack-o-lantern flavor. The sage, truffle salt and blue cheese combine to deliver the ultimate earthy essence.

Recipe notes: I’ve tried this with both Amish blue cheese and a French feta. Both were delicious, but I preferred the blue cheese. Truffle salt nicely enhances the earthiness of the dish, but you can skip it without compromising the recipe.

Make sure to cut the butter into slices so that it will melt evenly. Never had to chiffonade before? Not to worry — it just means to slice the sage into delicate strips.

Pumpkin gnocchi with brown butter sage sauce - adapted from


For the gnocchi

  • 1 pound of pumpkin (1 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree will do)
  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Extra flour for dusting
  • A good pinch of salt + pepper
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese (or gorgonzola)

For the sauce

  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, sliced into 1/4 - inch slices
  • 2 teaspoons sage, chiffonade
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon truffle salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


If you’re not using the can of pumpkin purée (and please, for the LOVE OF GOD, do not buy the pumpkin pie mix), peel + deseed pumpkin, slice in medium-sized cubes and cook in salted boiling water for 15 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Puree pumpkin in a food processor until smooth. You could also use a potato masher. Return to pan and dry out the mash for a few minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin, flour, salt, pepper, egg and nutmeg. Use your hands to mix the dough — it has to be slightly sticky leaving the side of the bowl. Divide dough into four sausage-shaped rolls, and roll each portion gently on a lightly-floured surface, about 1.5 cm (over 1/2 inch) thick. Slice dough into little cubic ‘pillows’, approximately 1.5-2 cm (1/2 inch-1 inch) each. Sprinkle flour on gnocchi to prevent sticking. With the tines of your fork, press lightly into the gnocchi to create an indentation.

In a large saucepan (with a light surface, if possible, so you can see the butter better), melt the butter and add the sage. Swirl the pan around a bit to keep the butter cooking evenly. Let the butter foam up, then continue cooking until browned bits begin to form at the bottom of the pan and the butter carries a fragrant nutty aroma. Stir in remaining ingredients. Remove from heat.

Cook gnocchi in a large pan of salted boiling water by batches, if necessary. As soon as they rise to the surface, they are cooked and ready to be served. Drain. Add the gnocchi into the saucepan and stir, adding chunks of cheese. Serve hot and enjoy.

Serves two large portions or four starter portions.

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for Reach her at You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:58 p.m.

At some point, the pumpkin people must have decided that giving us less pumpkin for the same cost made more money for them One of these days, 11 eggs might make a dozen.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

And with the way things are now? It will only get worse.

Great Lakes Lady

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

That goes for all grocery items.....we're paying more for a result of inflation.