Gnocchi con Patate e Zucca con Ragu’ alla Bolognese (Potato and Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Bolognese Sauce)


If you have a kid in pre-school, you may get the occasional stamps on their work:
The “I made this all by myself” stamp.
Or, the “I made this with assistance” stamp.

This is one of those dishes that “I made with assistance.” Whole family assistance. If you are doing it by yourself, good luck. There are quite a few steps. If your family rolls their eyes when you call them over to make gnocchi, try  a neighbor. They get to eat amazing homemade gnocchi afterwards. Just don’t share afterwards with your ungrateful family. They could’ve helped you out. Sheesh.


Hubby was home the other night a few weeks ago, and he shouted out: “Facciamo i gnocchi sta sera?” Translation, “Let’s make gnocchi tonight?” Hell to the YEAH! I was a little shocked, because he never wants to do fun cooking stuff like that with us at home. He does it all day at work. He asked me how many potatoes I had. Not that many! But I did have some gorgeous butternut squash that was just perfect for this fall recipe. Italian comfort food. (Did I mention I love all Italian recipes!)

I know y’all are so excited to see my gnocchi! And as an added bonus, I am giving you also my Ragu’ di Bolognese sauce recipe! I am feeling kinda generous.

I posted this sort of backwards. Look below for the sauce recipe first and get that going. It needs to simmer. Or you could make the gnocchi, freeze them for the next day. Then, do your sauce, and eat it all tomorrow. I’m not picky. Whatever you prefer.

Important notes while making dough:
1) cool the potatoes/squash before adding to flour/eggs.
2) mash the potatoes/squash while they are hot.
3) don’t forget to add flour to your working surface so it won’t stick while you are working it.
4) don’t over mix or it will become mushy.
5) cook in boiling/salted water.
6) don’t stir while cooking or they will stick.
7) they will float to top when they are ready.

Phew! Sorry, it’s sounding so complicated. But. so worth the effort!

I know, super exciting. Calm down and listen carefully:

How we did it:

Gnocchi Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs potatoes           700 grams
2/3 cup butternut squash  300 grams  (this is weight w/out the skin)
2 cups flour                       250 grams
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk                     (the addition of this yolk will help make dough firmer)
salt/pepper to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (to sprinkle on after it is ready)

First, we made the dough:
Wash the potatoes and boil them until they are very soft (boil with peels on). Cut the butternut squash into chunks, take out the seeds, you can leave the skin on, and boil them. They will finish faster so you could boil them in a separate pan like we did. When they are soft, time to mash the potato and butternut squash. You should use a ricer, if you have one. Or just mash it up with a potato masher. You need to wait until the potatoes and squash or cool.

Once they are mashed, mix the potatoes with the squash, egg, and salt in a large bowl. In small portions, add the flour. Knead it until the texture is smooth. Keep adding flour in little bits if the dough is sticky. Knead the dough on a floured board (or your counter, if it’s clean).

Place a large pan with salted water on high heat.

This is how the dough should look:

Now you have to separate the dough into the portions. We did about 6 portions. (I say “about” because one roll may have been used like play-doh). Roll out each individual portion. Have a cookie sheet ready with parchment paper on it and a little flour. That is where you will put them when ready and flour will stop from sticking. Gnocchi are very sticky. You have to move swiftly and adeptly. (I’m not joking!)

With each rolled out portion, you cut your little gnocchi. You make about a 1/2 inch thick rope, and cut each gnoccho out of the rope.

When the cut-out pieces are ready, time to roll them off back of your fork. You take each piece, dip one side in flour, the other side, roll off fork.

You know what the indentation is for from the fork? It is to hold the sauce. Ingenious! Now remember, you are moving swiftly and adeptly. Each time you make your indented creation, put it on the cookie sheet with parchment paper. Don’t toss them on top of each other. They will stick together. Make sure you have flour on the parchment. A little, not a ton.

Your pot of boiling water should be ready by now. Time to add the gnocchi. Carefully add them to the water. They will cook in about 5 minutes. 6 minutes tops. They will float to surface of water when they are ready. You may get a premature floater.

Now you should have made the sauce ahead and you should have it heating up in a pan on medium-low.

Take out the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and add immediately to your bowl. Add the sauce on top of the gnocchi. Add your grated cheese. Add extra salt and pepper if you want.

Here is the Bolognese sauce recipe I use. Make a day or two ahead if you like.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup of onion chopped (you can use sweet onion or yellow onion)
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped (optional)
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (you could do a mixture of pork/beef or however you prefer)
1 cup dry white wine
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (I use San Marzano)
6 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
I add a touch of salt and a little bouillon.


In medium size sauce pan or a Dutch oven heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes more. If you are adding the pancetta, now is the time to add it and cook for 5 minutes, then add the beef and saute, stirring frequently

Break up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients and simmer.

I simmer my ragu for about 2 hours.

Here are the vegetables and beef cooking up nicely.

After you have cooked up your gnocchi, add the sauce and sprinkle on some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. You could also use Grana Padano.

Here is the almost ready sauce.

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