Squash-Ricotta Gnocchi with Bacon Brown Butter Sauce

This recipe for Squash-Ricotta Gnocchi makes the fluffiest and creamiest pillow pasta. Toss seared gnocchi with a simple and decadent brown butter sauce studded with crispy bacon, toasted hazelnuts and grated parmesan for an over-the-top dish you’ll be eating all year long. 


It’s hard to find a more comforting dish than homemade ricotta gnocchi. These little Italian dumplings are not only delicious, they’re also fun to make, and probably easier than you think! 


Of course, we couldn’t stop with a basic ricotta gnocchi recipe. We took things up a level (or two) by adding a creamy and smooth maple and cinnamon-spiced winter squash purée to add natural sweetness and a warm orange hue. 


And to tie everything together, we make sure every last gnocchi is coated in a simple but sophisticated brown butter sauce. It has smokiness from crisped bacon, nuttiness from toasted hazelnuts and umami from freshly grated parmesan cheese. If there’s ever a time to splurge on the good Parmesan, this dish is certainly it. 

Making Winter Squash Ricotta Gnocchi

If this is your first time making gnocchi, you’re in for a treat. The first step is to make a quick and creamy winter squash purée. You can use any squash you like, including butternut, acorn or delicata. 


Toss the squash with olive oil and warm winter spices and roast until very tender. Then, blend it up in a food processor with a bit of maple syrup for added sweetness. 


Make sure your squash purée is fully cooled before adding in the ricotta and egg yolks to make the gnocchi dough. The dough will be sticky but should hold together well and be easy to slice into little pillows. Make the cuts as uniform as possible so the pasta cooks evenly. 


After cooking the gnocchi, brown the dumplings in a skillet and build the sauce for a quick finish to an impressive dish. 

Squash-Ricotta Gnocchi with Bacon Brown Butter Sauce

Squash-Ricotta Gnocchi with Bacon Brown Butter Sauce

Yield: 60 pieces; Serves: 6-8

This pillowy squash ricotta gnocchi is the soft, creamy and fluffy pasta you’ve been looking for all winter long. While they’re delicious on their own, we had to dress up our little dumplings with a savory and smoky sage brown butter sauce full of crispy bacon, crunchy toasted hazelnuts and a sprinkling of snowy parmesan. The result? I’d call it comfort in a bowl, and you’ll know exactly what I mean when you try it for yourself.


Seasonal Squash Purée (Yield: 2 1/4 cups)

  • 2 cups squash, peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 ounces pure maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Seasonal Squash and Ricotta Gnocchi

  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup squash purée (see recipe above)
  • 1½ cups “00” or gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Final Dish

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 batch ricotta gnocchi (60 pieces)
  • ⅓ cup bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 6 sage leaves
  • ¼ cup butter, diced
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 small piece parmesan, for finishing
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm squash purée (for plating if desired)


Seasonal Squash Purée

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, toss the squash with the olive oil, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom.
  3. Transfer to a baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Roast for about 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender and lightly caramelized. 
  4. Remove the squash from the oven and transfer to a blender along with the maple syrup, water and salt. Blend on high until very smooth. If necessary, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you have a thick and smooth purée.
  5. Transfer to a small container and refrigerate until cooled. 

Seasonal Squash and Ricotta Gnocchi

  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Drain the ricotta in a fine-mesh strainer and press lightly with a dish towel to remove excess moisture. Transfer the ricotta to a large mixing bowl. 
  3. Add the egg yolks and squash purée to the ricotta and stir briefly to combine. Add the flour, parmesan, salt and pepper and stir until evenly combined. Avoid overmixing. Add additional flour if needed until the dough is slightly sticky and holds together well.
  4. Shape the dough into a round disk and transfer to a lightly floured cutting board. Break into golf ball sized balls and roll into a long tube shape. Using a knife or a bench scraper to small pillow shapes about ¼-inch long. Lightly toss the gnocchi in a little flour to prevent them from sticking while cooking. 
  5. Carefully transfer the gnocchi to the boiling water to cook. 
  6. As soon as they float, usually after about 30 seconds, remove the gnocchi from the water with a fine-mesh strainer or slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Toss with olive oil to prevent sticking. 

Final Dish

  1. In a cast iron skillet or non stick pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until lightly smoking. Add the gnocchi in an even layer and brown on one side. Carefully turn each gnocchi with a spoon then add the bacon, sage and butter. 
  2. Turn the heat to medium-low and gently stir until the butter begins to brown. Add the hazelnuts and season with salt. Remove the pan from the heat. 
  3. To serve, fill the bottom of your bowls with a spoonful of warm squash purée. Top with the gnocchi and sauce. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Gnocchi for Spring

This recipe transitions well from chilly nights to warmer springtime. To seamlessly bridge the gap from a hearty winter recipe to a refreshing warm weather dinner, add some brightness to your bowl. 

I like to toss the warm gnocchi with baby greens like arugula or microgreens right after plating. The greens will wilt a bit in the heat and add a whole new peppery and refreshing dimension to the dish. 

If you’re looking for more comfort food recipes to enjoy all year long, be sure to follow along on Instagram, where I’m always sharing my favorite dishes.


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