Tender with just the right amount of chew, these easy pumpkin gnocchi are soft and pillowy and filled with flavor of pumpkin. This is the perfect comforting meal for fall and pumpkin season, or simply anytime you crave delicious Italian pasta! Best of all, it’s gluten-free and dairy-free too, but you wouldn’t even know it!
My Love Affair with Italy and Pasta
I have a long-term affair with Italy; one that’s lasted for at least a decade and counting. The first time I laid eyes on the boot-shaped country in 2007, Italy effortlessly won me over. Just like that, as my friends and I visited Cinque Terre, Florence, Venice and Bologna in slightly less than two weeks, I fell in love with the architecture in Italian cities, the wit and charm of dark-haired Italians, and the passion with which the people lived.
Later, when Juan and I visited Italy for 10 days in 2014, where we covered Rome and the Amalfi Coast, we sought out pizza and bruschetta in Naples, oxtail soup and octopus salad in Rome, and plenty of seafood pasta all along the coast. Italian food now became the highlight of our trip – and as we re-discovered Italy bite after bite, savoring the flavors of vinegared olives, crusty bread dipped in olive oil, creamy gelato and refreshing lemon slush, I knew I’d found a cuisine that would always bring a glow to my face and happiness to my tummy.
When Juan was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease early this year (which simply means he has to go on a lifelong gluten-free diet), we thought that our relationship with Italian food was now over. Both he and I love pasta, and how could pasta exist without gluten? For a little while after receiving his diagnosis, our food-inspired world seemed to come crashing down.
Inspiration for Making Gluten-Free Pasta
Sometime after we began eating gluten-free, I started toying with the idea of making gluten-free gnocchi – a tough feat considering that I’d never even made gnochi before with normal wheat flour. I let the idea sit around on the “recipes to try” list in my notebook, but it took our trip to New York in 2015 (when we were still living in DC) to finally bring it to life.
We hadn’t done much research for the weekend getaway to the Big Apple, but the one thing that we knew for sure was this: we were going to have dinner at Senza Gluten, the famous 100% gluten-free Italian restaurant run by Chef Jemiko. On the website, Chef Jemiko says, “I decided to create the gluten-free Italian menu to focus on this incredible, delicious food that I learned from many executive chefs in this wonderful country. A gluten-free Italian menu does not have to miss out on flavor, texture, or delicious options.”
It’s hard not to like someone who says something so wonderful, and since Juan and I had been missing good Italian food, the first thing we scribbled down on our to-do list for NYC was “Eat at Senza Gluten.”
Senza Gluten in New York
Given that we were zipping in and out of New York for just two short days, the only day that we could have dinner there was Saturday night, so we booked a table to make sure we would definitely have seats, especially since we’d invited our friend Vennie along.
It’d been a long while since I’d enjoyed Italian food so much: we had chicken soup and fungi bruschetta for starters, followed by pasta for our mains, and tiramisu for dessert. Each dish was a delight for both our eyes and taste buds, but the one dish that really stood out with Juan’s potato gnocchi with a creamy mushroom sauce. Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of gnocchi, but the gnocchi served that night was just the right size with the right texture – neither too soft nor too chewy. It was simply so good, I couldn’t stop raving about it to anyone who asked us about our NYC trip.
What is Gnocchi?
For those of you unfamiliar with gnocchi, it’s basically a type of Italian pasta consisting of various thick, small and soft dough dumplings (approximately the size of a wine cork). It looks complicated to pronounce, but the letter “g” is actually silent and is pronounced “no-kee”. Traditionally, gnocchi is made with mashed potatoes, egg and flour, but there are also versions made with other types of puree, such as sweet potato puree or pumpkin puree.
Making Gnocchi with Pumpkin
When we returned to DC, I was determined to do some sort of recreation of the pasta, with a little twist. Instead of mashed potatoes, I decided to use pumpkin puree because pumpkins were in season and I wanted to add a splash of color to the gnocchi. And for the sauce, I went with something simple using what little I had on hand: rosemary-flavored brown butter with a hint of crème fraîche.
It took a little playing around with the dough and adapting a recipe I’d found on The Krooked Spoon, but the texture came out pretty close to the one at Senza Gluten. I was extremely pleased with it, but best of all, even Juan agreed that it was a very close second. This proves that a gluten-free menu doesn’t have to miss out on flavor, texture, or delicious options. Thank you Chef Jemiko for the inspiration!
Ingredients You’ll Need + Notes/Substitutions
For the Pumpkin Gnocchi:
- Pumpkin Puree: I always recommend using fresh homemade pumpkin puree if possible (as it doesn’t have the additives and preservatives that come with the canned version). However, if you only have canned pumpkin available, that will work as well.
- Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend: I like using a light gluten-free flour blend that is made up of lighter flours and starches such as rice flour, corn starch, tapioca starch and xanthan gum. Make sure your blend comes with xanthan gum as that is what will help to bind the ingredients together.
- Egg: The egg is necessary as a binder in this pumpkin gnocchi. I haven’t tried making this with an egg-replacer, so I’m not sure how that will work.
For the Rosemary Brown Butter Sauce:
- Butter: Since we’re going to be making a brown butter sauce to go with this gluten-free pumpkin gnocchi, butter is absolutely essential. However, if you prefer it to be totally dairy-free, feel free to use vegan butter instead.
- Rosemary: Fresh rosemary will add a delicious fragrance and flavor to the sauce, but if you prefer using other herbs such as sage or thyme, feel free to go ahead and do so!
- Crème Fraîche: This literally means “fresh cream” in French, and is basically a type of thick cream made from double cream with the addition of buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt. You should be able to find this easily in the supermarkets. If not available, you can use sour cream to replace it, but note that sour cream is slightly more sour than crème fraîche.
- Salt and Pepper
1. Make the Dough
Place the pumpkin puree in a large bowl, and add the gluten-free flour blend and the beaten egg, then mix the ingredients well with a wooden spoon until you get a uniform gluten-free gnocchi dough that’s neither too dry nor too sticky.
2. Divide Dough into Portions and Roll into Gnocchi
Turn dough out onto a cool gluten-free floured surface, and use your hands to form a round disk. Divide disk into 6 equal portions (like you would cut a pizza). Using floured hands, roll out each portion to the thickness of a finger and cut dough into 2 to 3-inch portions and roll into a an oval-sized gnocchi, then set gnocchi aside on a gluten-free floured tray or plate. Repeat until all the pasta dough has been used up.
3. Boil in Batches
Bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a boil, then place gnocchi in a few batches in the water. When the pumpkin gnocchi floats to the top, it is cooked. Remove gnocchi from the hot water and set aside. Repeat until all the gnocchi has been cooked.
4. Make the Rosemary Brown Butter Sauce
As the pumpkin gnocchi cooks, place the three sprigs of rosemary in a large skillet over medium heat and melt the stick of butter and let it cook until it turns brown and fragrant. Add in crème fraîche and stir well, then add salt to taste.
5. Garnish and Serve
Divide the cooked gluten-free pumpkin gnocchi equally between into 2 bowls or plates and serve with rosemary brown butter sauce. Garnish with fresh rosemary and cracked black pepper if desired. Buon Appetito!
- Dough Texture: From my experience in cooking (and with gluten-free dough in particular), I’ve learnt that handling dough as always, is more of an art than a science. It’s all about feeling the texture of the dough as you knead it, making sure it is neither too dry that it crumbles and breaks, nor too wet that it sticks annoyingly to your hands and makes it impossible to handle. Always flour your hands with gluten-free flour when handling the dough. My rule of thumb is this: if the dough is too dry, a little sprinkle of water to it at a time until it kneads together well and not longer breaks. If the dough is too wet and sticky, sprinkle on more gluten-free flour and incorporate it slowly into the dough until it is no longer too wet, but smooth and pliable.
- Be Patient: When cooking the pumpkin gnocchi, it’s important to only throw the gnocchi in once the water has come to a boil. The pasta will sink to the bottom at first, so if they are all clumped together, give the gnocchi a little stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to prevent them from sticking to the bottom and to separate them from each other. Only remove the gnocchi when the rise to the top.
In my opinion, homemade gluten-free gnocchi tastes best eaten on the day they are cooked. However, if you have leftovers (which usually doesn’t happen at least in my home), store the cooked gnocchi in an air-tight container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If possible, store the pumpkin gnocchi separately from the sauce.
If you plan to freeze the gluten-free gnocchi, make sure you freeze it uncooked. Place the uncooked gnocchi in single layers in a freezer-safe container or ziplock bags, and freeze the gnocchi for up to 2 months. When you want to cook it, bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a boil, and then drop the frozen pumpkin gnocchi into the boiling water and let it cook for a few minutes until the gnocchi rises to the top. Once the rise to the top, that means they are cooked.
I like eating pumpkin gnocchi with a variety of sauces. The brown butter sauce in this recipe is a great option. Other favorite sauces include a super easy 5-minute pesto sauce, or any tomato-based sauce of your choice (such as bolognese sauce or even a simple caprese sauce), or even an alfredo sauce.
Pumpkin Recipes You’ll Also Love:
- Homemade Pumpkin Puree (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Creamy Pumpkin Risotto (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Creamy Pumpkin Soup (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Easy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins (Dairy-Free, Vegan)
- No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Easy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Scones
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread (Dairy-Free, Vegan)
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Waffles
- Super Moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread
Other Comforting Pasta Recipes:
- Garlic Eggplant Penne Pasta (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Mushroom Spaghetti Aglio Olio (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Macaroni and Beef (Gluten-Free)
- Turkey Bolognese with Gluten-Free Fusilli
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Tender with just the right amount of chew, these easy pumpkin gnocchi are soft and pillowy and filled with the flavor of pumpkin. This is the perfect comforting meal for fall and pumpkin season, or simply anytime you crave delicious Italian pasta! Best of all, it’s gluten-free and dairy-free too, but you wouldn’t even know it!
For the Gluten-Free Pumpkin Gnocchi:
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend + more as needed
- 1 egg, beaten
Optional Rosemary Brown Butter Sauce:
- 1 stick of butter (or vegan butter)
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 3 teaspoons of crème fraîche (or vegan sour cream)
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, for sprinkling
- Make the Dough: Place the pumpkin puree in a large bowl, and add the gluten-free flour blend and the beaten egg, then mix the ingredients well until you get a uniform dough.
- Divide Dough into Portions: Turn dough out onto a cool gluten-free floured surface, and use your hands to form a round disk. Divide disk into 6 equal portions (like you would cut a pizza).
- Roll Out the Gnocchi: Using floured hands, roll out each portion to the thickness of a finger and cut dough into 2 to 3-inch portions and roll into a an oval-sized gnocchi, then set gnocchi aside on a floured tray or plate. Repeat until all dough has been used up.
- Cook the Gnocchi: Bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a boil, then place gnocchi in a few batched in the water. When gnocchi floats to the top, it is cooked. Remove gnocchi from the hot water and set aside.
- Prepare the Sauce: As the gnocchi cooks, place the three sprigs of rosemary in a large skillet over medium heat and melt the stick of butter and let it cook until it turns brown and fragrant. Add in crème fraîche and stir well, then add salt to taste.
- Garnish and Serve: Divide cooked gnocchi into 2 equal portions and serve with rosemary brown butter sauce. Garnish with fresh rosemary and cracked black pepper if desired.
Pumpkin Puree: I always recommend using fresh homemade pumpkin puree if possible (since the homemade version doesn’t have the additives and preservatives that come with the canned version). However, if you only have access to canned pumpkin, it will work as well.
Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend: I like using a gluten-free flour blend that is made up of lighter flours/starches such as rice flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch. Make sure that your gluten-free blend also includes xanthan gum (a gluten-substitute), which is essential for binding the ingredients together.
Egg: The egg is necessary for binding the ingredients together and making sure the dough doesn’t fall apart. I haven’t tried making it with an egg-replacer, so I don’t know how that would work.
Butter: If you are making the rosemary brown butter sauce, butter would be essential. However if you want to keep it dairy-free, feel free to use vegan butter instead.
Rosemary: The fresh rosemary will add a beautiful fragrance and flavor to the sauce. However, feel free to substitute it with other fresh herbs such as thyme or sage.
Crème Fraîche: This can easily be found in most supermarkets. However, if you don’t have access to it, you can substitute it with sour cream (which will be slightly more sour than crème fraîche).
Dough Texture: You want to achieve a texture which is smooth an pliable – that means neither too dry nor crumbly, nor too wet and sticky. If the dough is too dry and breaks easily, add additional sprinkles of water until it becomes smooth and doesn’t crumble. If the dough is too wet and sticky, sprinkle on additional gluten-free flour and incorporate the extra flour into the dough, kneading until it is no longer too sticky to manage.
Cooking the Gnocchi: Only add the gnocchi to the pot once the water has come to a boil, and only remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon when they rise to the top.
Freezing the Gnocchi: If you plan on freezing the gnocchi, make sure to freeze it uncooked in separate layers in freezer-safe containers or ziplock bags. When ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the frozen gnocchi directly to the boiling water (there’s no need to defrost the frozen gnocchi or they will stick together). Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon once they rise to the top.
Adapted from: The Krooked Spoon
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pumpkin gnocchi