Pan-Fried Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage


Update 12/8/09 I’m thrilled to share that I’m a featured blogger for Oprah’s Holiday 2009!

This is one of those perfect perfect fall-winter recipes that you must make for Thanksgiving. Because it’s super-simple. If you’ve never made gnocchi before, please trust me that it’s easier than you think…please don’t be intimidated by the “gn”

Two throaty letters THAT close together sometimes scare me too.


But I promise you, it’s not bad at all. Here, let me hold your hand and walk you through it.

1. Mix together some canned pumpkin, lemon zest, salt, ricotta cheese, egg yolk and grated parmesan. In a separate bowl, add the flour. Now, here’s a secret shortcut. The recipe calls for “sifted flour” but I’m lazy. I don’t like to sift. I use a whisky-thingy to briskly whisk through the flour which breaks up any clumps. Does the same job. Plus, I like saying “briskly whisk.”

2. Add some of the flour (not all) You’re gonna mix with a spatula until the flour disappears.


3. Now add the rest of the flour and use your fingertips and lightly mix/knead. It’s a wet, sticky dough, but you’ll only do this for a minute. You can add more flour if it’s too sticky.


4. How do you know when you’ve added enough flour? Press your finger into the dough. It should be slightly tacky but clean. Then divide that dough ball into 4…and roll out with your hands one of the sections into a 1-inch diameter, long snake.


5. Cut into 1-inch pieces with a knife. Then you can use your fingers to lightly roll each piece to get them evenly sized. But seriously, this step is not necessary at all – you’ll be pan frying the gnocchi and any fancy handwork or groovy fork-marks will disappear anyways.


6. Heat a pan with some butter, add gnocchi pieces, fry until both sides golden.


7. After you fry all batches, clean the pan. Add new butter and olive oil. Fry the sage until fragrant. I like to remove the sage (you might like to eat that crispy herb and keep it in) Then whisk in balsamic vinegar. Pour over the gnocchi. THAT’S IT!


8. Shave some parmesan and serve.


See, I told you gnocchi was gneasy.


Pan-Fried Pumpkin Gnocchi Recipe

The secret to gnocchi is to have a light hand in the mixing. Overworking the dough will result in chewy, tough gnocchi. Use a spatula to mix the dough and then your fingertips to just turn the dough a few times to incorporate the rest of the flour. If you don’t have a flour sifter or are just plain lazy like me, use a wire whisk to break up any clumps in the flour.

The brown-butter sage is incredible – it’s a rich recipe, and only a little bit of the fragrant browned butter sage is needed (it’s not meant to be a “sauce”). The balsamic vinegar in the sauce gives it a nice tang that cuts through the rich gnocchi. Use a good quality balsamic vinegar.

serves 4-6

1/2 cup skim milk ricotta
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup freshly grated parmegiano reggiano
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon zest (use a microplane grater) (plus extra reserved for garnishing)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted plus more for dusting (see sifting tip above)
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
3 sprigs fresh sage, plus more for garnish
shaved parmegiano reggiano for serving (use vegetable peeler)

Preheat oven to 300F

1. Combine ricotta, pumpkin parmagiano, yolk, zest and salt in large bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle half of the flour on the mixture, gently turn with spatula a few times to incorporate. Dump mixture on clean, lightly floured countertop or you can still do this in the bowl. Sprinkle remaining flour on top of the mixture. Gently knead with your fingertips, just bringing together the mixture until flour is incorporated through. This only should take a minute or two. Any longer and you will be over-kneading.

2. Dust a clean, dry surface with a generous sprinkling of flour. Divide dough into 4 parts. Take one part and roll into a long, 1″ diameter log. Cut gnocchi into 1″ pieces.

3. Heat a large frying pan or saute pan with just 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add a few gnocchi – enough to cover surface but not touch each other. Fry on medium heat for 1-2 minutes, turn and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Remove gnocchi, place on large baking sheet to put into oven to keep warm. Repeat with rest of gnocchi.

4. When all gnocchi is finished, discard butter/oil in pan and clean pan with paper towel. Heat pan on medium heat and when hot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add the fresh sage. Let the sage brown and sizzle (but not burn) for a couple of minutes until very fragrant. Remove the sage and discard if you want (or keep it in to eat — as many people in the comments below like to do!) To the pan, add the balsamic vinegar and whisk. Let simmer on low for 1 minute and pour over the gnocchi.

5. Serve with shaved parmegiano reggiano and a sage leaf for garnish.

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Comments 99

  1. Kasey

    I just made pumpkin (well, kabocha squash) gnocchi for the first time, and your recipe looks so delectable. I can imagine was a little time in the pan can do for these! Thanks for sharing–I’ll have to try!

  2. Katie @ goodLife {eats}

    YUM! I have had pumpkin ravioli before with the brown butter and sage type sauce and loved it. I’ll have to give this one a try, plus I love all the step photos. It makes gnocchi seem less intimidating.

  3. Jason

    Discard the sage?!?! One of my favorite parts of dishes like this is the crunchy sage leaves that you get when you fry them like that. Don’t stop right when they’re aromatic, fry until crispy, which only takes a little longer. Remove and serve whole for a great edible garnish.

  4. Maryann

    Oh this looks so good. I just made ravioli with pretty much the same stuff. Topped it with melted butter and fresh sage. Sage and pumpkin, a match made in heaven.

  5. Kim M.

    Jaden…the world has fallen in love with you, your blog, and now your cookbook! You have this AMAZING gift of breaking down intimidating recipes and explaining them step by step (with beautiful photos). As a result, we feel like we can do create these recipes, too! Thank you for sharing your gift with us! 🙂

  6. candice

    I’m seriously drooling right now. I never thought gnocchi was “scary,” rather, it seemed like a really “cute” dish (like little pockets of dough!), but time-consuming. But now I have something to entice me to make it… i.e. all of the photos above…

  7. Steve

    Would you need to make many adjustments if you were to use fresh pumpkin rather than canned? I’ve never seen canned pumpkin in the UK. 🙁

    yes, you can use fresh pumpkin, but you’ll have to cook the pumpkin first! canned pumpkin is already cooked. jaden

  8. MollyCookie

    This recipe looks great! I recently saw you on CNN or something like that talking about your cookbook and started reading your blog. It’s great! Good luck with your blogging adventures!

  9. alecho

    Gnocchi… I’m still hesistant to make one, but this recipe definitely motivates me to do so 😉 wow… looks soooo good!

  10. Rachelle

    I must confess … when we were in Rome we found a little hole-in-the-wall family owned restaurant where no one spoke ANY English. None. Zip. Zilch. I ordered gnocchi because it was the only Italian word on the menu that I understood. LOL! And it was guuuuuuud. I’ll have to try making this to balance out my sweet tooth.

  11. Steve

    Should the gnocci be boiled for a few minutes before being sauteed? I plan on making this recipe in a few days, but am concerned that I’ll end up with the flavor of uncooked dough.’

    Steve- no need to boil…the pan frying will cook it through ~jaden

  12. Fan from Vancouver, Canada!

    Oh yum! I will definitely have to make this recipe! I think that I will briskly whisk my flour as well… :o)

  13. The Teacher Cooks

    This does look easy. An Italian friend for mind gave me a recipe for Gnocchi and I looked at it and said no way!!! This one I will have to try. Do you think sweet potatoes would work the same? Thanks for the post and the photo is beautiful as usual!!!!

  14. Divina

    It’s absolutely a perfect dish for fall even if we don’t have autumn in the Philippines. That first photo is just meant to be eaten. Must grab a fork now. I love making gnocchi. It’s therapeutic. But haven’t done it with pumpkin. I think I should start now. Thanks Jaden. Super stunning photos.

  15. Anna

    I’m a “brisk whisker” too! Good to see that it’s a “bloggy approved” technique. 🙂 Now I won’t feel slightly guilty and rebellious about it.

  16. Amber

    These little treasures look great! Such beautiful step-by-step photos too. Wonder if these would be good as a dessert? Sugar instead of salt?


  17. Jenny

    My roommate has scared me away from gnocchi, but frying makes pretty much anything good, so I guess I *can* give it a go. Thanks for the step-by-step. I can’t wait to make it!

  18. Tokyo Terrace

    That first photo has me dying for these gnocchi! What a beautiful dish for fall- and especially for Thanksgiving! I just might have to add this to my Thanksgiving menu…

  19. Mariko

    These look stupendous – now I know what to do with that can of pumpkin in the pantry! I just got back from your cooking class in Seattle (well, technically Kirkland, I suppose) and had a BLAST! I know I’ll be making the Firecracker Shrimp at our next gathering. Thanks so much for the excellent pan! I am PUMPED! We just bought our first house and move in a few weeks – I think I will save it and christen it there :).

  20. mamajulie22

    Hi Jaden! Just got your cookbook in the mail yesterday, and I love it! Can’t wait to get cookin! (or steamy?) : ) But I think I will have to make some of these beauties first!! I have made (read: assisted and took notes!) authentic Italian potato gnocchi with my Italian mother-in-law, and I have yet to try them as they were quite intimidating… but you make these look so lovely and easy! cheers!

  21. [email protected]

    Ok, I will try not to be intimidated by the “gn”! I love the look of this and am searching for something special for a dinner party – looks like I might have found it. Will def let you know if it turns out!!!

  22. Karen

    wow I gotta make those. I made traditional gnocchi once and it wasn’t half bad..not as great as I hoped but…for a rookie… I will be trying that next week

  23. JennyBakes

    I made these tonight, and while my pictures don’t even look close to as good because of some sauce unfortunate events, the gnocchi themselves look like yours and taste delicious! I thought I didn’t like gnocchi…..

  24. Lisa P.

    “Remove the sage and discard.” What?? My husband and I ate those babies like potato chips! And the gnocchi was excellent too. I’d recommend a fine grater for the cheese, as my gnocchi was a little lumpy.

  25. Katie

    jaden – the sage is WONDERFUl after being fried in butter…don’t discard! We made something very similar and I loved the fried sage! Your pictures are gorgeous!

  26. Pingback: Pan-Fried Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage « the taste space – steam, bake, boil, shake!

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