Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Vodka Sauce is an incredibly comforting meal, that sounds fancy but couldn’t be simpler. The homemade gnocchi is made with roasted butternut squash for a touch of fall sweetness, and the vodka sauce is incredibly flavorful, ridiculously creamy, and everything you crave on a chilly night. Hello comfort food!
A big bowl of pillowy carbs with the creamiest vodka sauce is exactly what this late October Monday needs! Butternut squash gnocchi, to be exact. I’ve already made the brown butter sweet potato gnocchi from my cookbook a couple times this fall, and the amazingness of that recipe is what inspired this one! I love adding a little bit of veggies into my gnocchi – in this case, maple roasted butternut squash! It adds a natural sweetness and makes them extra tender and fluffy.
If you’ve never made gnocchi before, you won’t even believe how easy it is. And you’ll never want to buy it from the store again.
Because it’s just that simple.
It starts with roasting your butternut squash with a little maple, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then mashing it once it’s all nice and tender! Then, you just mix up your dough with a little flour, salt, ricotta, egg, and the mashed butternut! All you have to do is roll the dough into ropes, cut it into rustic little gnocchi, then boil it for a few minutes and that’s IT!
And the vodka sauce comes together in minutes on the stove. It makes a little extra too, so you can have pasta again later in the week. Because that’s always a good idea.
I was never a huge fan of vodka sauce, but in recent years when I started making my own, I began to LOVE it. I grew up eating Rao’s marinara by the caseload, and nothing can even touch that for me, but if you’re looking for a creamy, amazing, simple vodka sauce, this one’s for you.
It starts how all good things start. Olive oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Really good quality Italian tomatoes get added into the mix along with some tomato paste for that rich tomato flavor, vodka of course, and a little bit of red pepper flakes for heat!
And to finish it off, I blend it up in the blender, and then stir in cream and parm. How all good things end.
I’m beyond obsessed with this gnocchi for two reasons: one, the butternut squash makes it slightly sweet, which pairs amazingly with the richness of the vodka sauce, and two, the ricotta makes it super light and tender. It’s lighter than a traditional potato gnocchi, which I really enjoy!
I could go on and on, but it’s really freaking good!
This is the kind of meal that’s super impressive to serve at a dinner party or for guests, but in reality, super simple. I’d serve this with a simple salad with balsamic, and then some red wine (of course), and that’s my idea of the most perfect dinner.
You could make the gnocchi dough the morning of, and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to roll it out. Same goes for the vodka sauce – you could totally make that the morning of, or even the day before!
It’s one of those things that just gets better and better.
I like to top this with a shower of freshly grated parm and some torn fresh basil.
Honestly, there’s nothing better.
October food is just the BEST.
Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Vodka Sauce
Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Vodka Sauce is an incredibly comforting meal, that sounds fancy but couldn't be simpler. The homemade gnocchi is made with roasted butternut squash for a touch of fall sweetness, and the vodka sauce is incredibly flavorful, ridiculously creamy, and everything you crave on a chilly night. Hello comfort food!
For the gnocchi
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 - 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup whole milk ricotta (not part-skim!)
- 1 large egg, whisked
For the vodka sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 (28 ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- fresh basil for serving
Preheat oven to 400℉. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. To the baking sheet, add butternut squash, maple syrup, olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring once during baking, until tender and golden on the edges. Let cool for a few minutes, then mash with a fork into a "paste."
Add 2 cups of the flour and salt to a large bowl and whisk together. Add the ricotta, egg, and mashed butternut squash and mix together with a wooden spoon (or your hands!) until the mixture forms a dough. I just use my hands, it's MUCH easier. If the mixture seems too sticky/wet, add more flour (up to 1/2 cup) until it comes together.
Transfer the dough to a generously floured work surface and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick, and cut each rope into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the gnocchi. Once boiling, add the gnocchi to the boiling water (you may need to do this in 2-3 batches deending on the size of your pot) and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until they float to the top. Drain and set aside (I like to set them on an oiled baking sheet to prevent sticking!)
Once finished, toss the gnocchi with desired amount of vodka sauce (you will have some sauce leftover) and serve with freshly grated parmesan, freshly cracked black pepper, and torn fresh basil.
For the vodka sauce
Melt olive oil and butter in a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes and sauté for a minute or so, or until fragrant. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the vodka and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until the alcohol cooks off. Add the tomato paste, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper, and cook for 1 minute, stirring to break up the tomato paste and develop the flavor a bit. Add the tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Once sauce has simmered, let cool for several minutes before transferring to a blender. Once it has cooled off a bit, carefully add to a high-powered blender, and blend until smooth and creamy. Add sauce back into the pot, and stir in the cream, parmesan cheese, and remaining 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt, to taste. Stir until creamy and smooth. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired.
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