Oct 19, 2016

Fall Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Brown Butter, Pancetta & Sage

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
This gnocchi is inviting with flavors of roasted and slightly caramelized butternut squash, pancetta topped with brown butter sauce and sage.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been as obsessed with the fruits and vegetables of the fall harvest as I have been this year. I’ve been putting butternut squash, pumpkin and apple into just about everything and this pasta is no different.

It is warm and inviting with flavors of roasted and slightly caramelized butternut squash, pancetta, and is topped with brown butter sauce and sage. The sage is fried in the brown butter so that it is crisp and almost melts in your mouth.

Fall Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Brown Butter, Pancetta & Sage

About The Brown Butter Sauce

Brown butter is not only a flavorful, nutty and slightly sweet sauce for pasta, it’s extremely easy to make and comes together quickly. The brown butter or “beurre noisette” is made when the water cooks out and the milk solids toast and turn golden brown.

When making brown butter use a light-bottomed pan if possible. That way you can see the shade of brown the mixture is turning. If you are not careful, once the milk solids separate the butter can brown quickly. To avoid this remove it from the pan immediately.

cooking closeup pancetta

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Gnocchi – Rather than using homemade gnocchi in this recipe I take a shortcut and use packaged, store-bought potato gnocchi. Feel free to substitute with your favorite homemade gnocchi recipe.
  • Pancetta – Pancetta comes from pork belly and is salted, seasoned, cured and aged for an extended period of time. Pancetta is similar to bacon in flavor though not as smokey. It can be substituted for bacon, speck or guanciale in this recipe. The rendered fat from the pancetta is combined with the brown butter sauce to add additional flavor.
  • Butternut squash – Butternut squash has a sweet nutty taste similar to pumpkin. The flavor is complimented by the rich brown butter and salty pancetta in this recipe. The dense squash has flavor similar to sweet potatoes or pumpkin.
fall gnocchi with butternut squash, brown butter, pancetta and sage closeup

How to Make Fall Gnocchi

  1. Roast the squash. Preheat oven to 425ºF. In a large mixing bowl toss the butternut squash with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on an aluminum-foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender and lightly browned, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Cook the pancetta. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, cook the pancetta until most of the fat has rendered and the pancetta is brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. Boil the gnocchi. Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add the salt and bring back to the boil. Pour in the gnocchi and cook, until they rise to the top, about 3 minutes. Drain the gnocchi and return to the pot.
  4. Make the brown butter. Return the medium sauté pan to the heat over medium. Add the butter and allow to melt. Once melted add the sage then continue to cook the butter, swirling it around the pan occasionally, until the butter is toasty-brown color and has a nutty aroma. Once this happens immediately remove the brown butter to a small bowl. Set the sage aside on a plate.
  5. Assemble and serve. Pour the brown butter over the gnocchi, stirring to combine. Add the butternut squash and pancetta and stir again, then season with salt and pepper. Top with the sage and finish with a squeeze of the lemon juice. Serve in warmed pasta bowls.
fall gnocchi with butternut squash, brown butter, pancetta and sage

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Fall Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Brown Butter, Pancetta & Sage

Print Pin
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper as needed
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1 pound potato gnocchi
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 packed cup sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF. In a large mixing bowl toss the butternut squash with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on an aluminum-foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender and lightly browned, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  • In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, cook the pancetta until most of the fat has rendered and the pancetta is brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add the salt and bring back to the boil. Pour in the gnocchi and cook, until they rise to the top, about 3 minutes. Drain the gnocchi and return to the pot.
  • Return the medium sauté pan to the heat over medium. Add the butter and allow to melt. Once melted add the sage then continue to cook the butter, swirling it around the pan occasionally, until the butter is toasty-brown color and has a nutty aroma. Once this happens immediately remove the brown butter to a small bowl. Set the sage aside on a plate.
  • Pour the brown butter over the gnocchi, stirring to combine. Add the butternut squash and pancetta and stir again, then season with salt and pepper. Top with the sage and finish with a squeeze of the lemon juice. Serve in warmed pasta bowls.

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  1. Made this recipe for the first time last night! It was so flavorful and easy to make. We will definitely be putting this into our fall rotation of recipes to make.

  2. I don’t understand your cooking order. It takes gnocchi a couple of minutes to cook. Why is it step 2 and not step three? It’s sitting in the pot cooked and drained for 15 minutes or so while pancetta is cooking, rendering and you’re making butter.???? Of course the gnocchi water should be put on and boiling and ready to pop the gnocchi into just as the brown butter is done and re moved from heat. You really are setting people up to fail especially people that don’t know how to cook or time things. There would be a pile of gnocchi mush in the pot after 15 minutes.

    • That’s a great call out, thanks. I reviewed the recipe and made that adjustment on the above and flipped steps 2 and 3.

  3. What’s the cup of pasta liquid for…and what about the lemon juice? I see them in the ingredients, but it doesn’t mention them again! Thanks!! We had this dish at a neighbor’s and loved it so much, we’re making it for ourselves!

    • So sorry- adjusted the recipe accordingly! The cup of pasta liquid was a misprint – sometimes I use it to thicken a sauce if needed but this one is fine without. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top after you top with the sage. It contrasts with the nutty butter and brightens the dish a bit, Hope you enjoy the recipe!