Saturday, 13 October 2012

Squash Gnocchi (and Brown Butter Sage Sauce)

Think you gave up gnocchi when you went paleo?  Think again.  Once you let go of the fear of recipe failure, you start to experiment alittle with your food.  A couple of food successes later, you just branch out into all kinds of crazy food fun.

Is that my inner foodie speaking?

I love to create things.  I love to try to do what I thought would not be possible, or at least, I thought that at the BEGINNING of my paleo journey.  These days, there's no holding me back.  There are no limits on what I will cook, or try to cook, just limits on the ingredients I can use.  I'm pretty sure that given the time, I could create a totally paleo-acceptable pasta that has the texture of real pasta.  I know, why would I want to, right?  Aren't we supposed to be getting away from neolithic foodstuffs and back to how we would have eaten waaay back when?  Yes.  And no.

You see, we're living in a neolithic food world.  We're surrounded every day by fake foods and fast foods that are completely unhealthy, but those are the foods we were raised on, that our taste buds developed to love even if they were killing us all slowly.  Sometimes, not all the time, we need to taste those foods again.  Sometimes we need to eat foods that taste like the foods of our childhood, but wouldn't it be better if we could have all those flavours that we knew and loved--without all the pain and the bad stuff?  What is the harm in trying to recreate those favorite neolithic foods with only primally-acceptable ingredients?  I can only speak for myself, but having paleo-versions of all the foods of my childhood is what allows me to eat this way, and never for a minute miss the old way I used to eat.  It reduces my "cheat" meals and snacks.  It is the taste of familiar--but now made healthy--that keeps me here.

So tonight, that comfort food was gnocchi.

Ever had home made gnocchi?  What about pumpkin/squash pasta with brown butter and sage?  No?  Its time to try it (the paleo version, not the actual gut-hurting pasta on store shelves)!!

Ok, so traditional gnocchi is most often boiled.  Why is it that when you boil potatoes and flour, its gnocchi, but when you bake potatoes with flour, its a tater tot?  These did NOT taste like tater tots.  But they did taste better baked.  It's perfectly ok to boil them, they come out just like traditional gnocchi, but baking helps dry them out just enough to add a bit of....texture, and to keep the butter sauce from being absorbed and disappearing.  It's your choice.  I did try it both ways.  I definitely prefer baking.  These little gems are soft and mellow no matter how much you man-handle them (which is a good thing; man-handled traditional gnocchi can be rubbery or dry).

Makes 4-5 generous and filling servings


  • 1 1/2 lb squash, boiled, drained and mashed (and cooled)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c coconut flour
  • 3/4 c tapioca starch
  • 1/4 c almond meal (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs fresh sage leaves, chopped, plus 2 Tbs for sauce
  • 1/3 - 1/2 c butter

Mix squash, eggs, flours, salt and 1 Tbs chopped fresh sage in a bowl.  Start by adding only 1/2 c each of tapioca and coconut to the squash.  I didn't drain mine very well, and wet squash meant more flours.  The almond flour is simply for texture and isn't totally necessary, but adds a nice density to the mixture.  

The mixture will still be soft and wet, but you should be able to delicately roll it out on the counter without it completely sticking to your hands.  If it does stick like crazy, add a bit more coconut and tapioca flour.  

Form into balls, then roll out into long, skinny logs.  Using a butter knife, cut into 1" lengths.  You can put these cut pieces directly onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or you can do the traditional thumbprint in the back and fork mark on the top.  This is only for aesthetics and won't affect baking time or texture.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  The gnocchi won't grow during the cooking process, so fit them as tightly as you can onto a baking sheet without letting them actually touch.  I managed to squeeze them all onto one baking sheet.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.  I gave mine a full 15 minutes and they were dry to the touch, but not browning or crisp.  Just....firm.   

While your gnocchi are in the oven, make your sauce.  Over medium heat, melt butter and the rest of the chopped sage leaves.  Butter will boil a bit, and as soon as it is boiling and foaming, remove from heat and cover.  

Serve the butter sauce over the gnocchi.

Try it with sausages--I really liked these ones at Paleo Magazine online.  

Just a thought--what would these taste like if you made them out of pumpkin and replaced the sage with pumpkin pie spice, and when you were simmering the butter, what if you added a bit of maple syrup or honey?  Would you have pumpkin dumplings with caramel sauce?  I do believe so.  Think about it.....


  1. So, I admit, it is early morning for me as I'm reading this. I cannot help but ask, what kind of squash did you use for this recipe? I currently have a yellow crookneck sitting on my counter (along side a mini-baseball bat sized zucchini). What did you use? Thanks! Kelly

  2. I'm a huge fan of butternut squash. That's what I used for this recipe. Any winter squash would do, I think (butternut, acorn, turban, delicata, hubbard). We don't see a lot of summer squashes like yellow crookneck around here, so I don't know how that squash would taste. If it is like zucchini, it probably would not work well--too wet. It needs to be about the density of pumpkin, or sweet potato would work very well, too. If you try it with any other squashes, let me know how it turns out!

  3. I'm going to try this with the sweet potatoes.Intriguing. Thanks!

  4. These sound amazing! I haven't invested in tapioca starch as yet and wonder if I can tolerate the carbs, but may just try these out! I love gnocchi, especially with a pink, creamy sauce on top.

    1. I made these, upping the coconut flour to about 10 TBSP (so about 2 extra tbsp, letting the butternut squash drain for about an hr) and using around 1 TBSP of tapioca flour, and no egg....they came out perfectly! the sauce is a winner. the gnocchi were soft and pillowy but not crumbly/prone to disintegration. so if anyone else is carb-wary, my mixture can work.

  5. Oooh, I will try them that way next time! Coconut flour is roughly half the carb content of tapioca starch. I'm impressed that they still held together!

  6. I was just wistfully thinking I would have to wait until tomorrow to make these until I remembered I have some butternut squash in the fridge. Someone in Austin is having squash gnocchi tonight!!