Butternut Squash and Sausage Gnocchi

This is the time of the year that I inevitably turn to meals chock full of warmth and comfort. Soups and stews are obvious choices, but this one-pan simmered sausage, squash, and gnocchi dish is another perfect example. And because I tossed a bunch of fresh sage leaves into the freezer before the snow covered them all, I even have that delightful flavor element to take this meal to the next level.

If you do not have butternut squash puree, feel free to use pumpkin or the like. A winter squash puree that's smooth and blends well with broth is what you are looking for. You can also use a different kind of bulk sausage, but I do not recommend smoked varieties because you want to be able to render fat from the sausage as you brown it and use that fat for cooking your onion, garlic, and seasonings before building the seasoned broth that you will use to cook the gnocchi. And don't skip or substitute something else for the gnocchi. This Italian potato-pasta-dumpling will add enough starch to the broth during cooking to thicken it perfectly. Other pasta will not do that and you will end up with something closer to soup.

As mentioned earlier, this is a one-pan meal. You can have a few pieces of crusty bread on hand to sop up the sauce, but there really is no need to make additional side dishes. Just dig in and enjoy some perfect winter comfort food.

Butternut Squash and Sausage Gnocchi

  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage, bulk version or removed from casings
  • 1 small yellow onion diced, about 1 cup
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound potato gnocchi
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnishing
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, optional

Brown the sausage in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, breaking apart the meat, until it is cooked through. Transfer the sausage to a plate.

Reduce the skillet heat to medium. Add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Continue cooking until the garlic is softened and fragrant, about 1 additional minute.

Add the chicken broth and the gnocchi to the skillet. Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir to coat the gnocchi, then cover the pan. Cook, covered, until the gnocchi is just tender, about 5 minutes.

Uncover and stir in the sausage and fresh chopped sage. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. If desired, garnish with fresh sage leaves or lightly fry the sage leaves before adding (you can fry them after browning the sausage, but before adding the onion and set them aside for serving). Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes