Emma Coburn's Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Herb Sauce

Looking for energy-boosting meals to fuel your training? Pro track and field New Balance athlete Emma Coburn has you covered with this sneak peek recipe from her new cookbook, The Runner’s Kitchen. The cookbook is packed with 100 nourishing recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, and releases December 15, 2020. It’s complete with meal plans and tips to help you fuel for peak training, race week and recovery days.

Emma Coburn makes her butternut squash gnocchi recipe

Inspiration behind the recipe

Coburn says, “I love pasta, pizza and all carbs. One of my favorite pasta dishes is gnocchi with brown butter, and I like to make it with butternut squash, acorn squash or sweet potato, for an extra bit of flavor. These veggies also give a little brighter color to the dish. If you want to get into the fall vibes, you can even make it with pumpkin. I often serve this with chicken apple sausage, but it is also delicious on its own with herbs and butter.”

When to make it, when to eat it

While this recipe is wonderfully simple, it requires a bit of time and planning.

Coburn says, “I like to make this recipe on an easy training day when I have a workout the next day. It provides great fuel for my workout, but also making it on an easy day is useful because it takes some time.”

Butternut squash gnocchi with sausage and salad

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Herb Sauce

Serves: 4

Serving Size: 2 cups

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour


- To speed up the prep time, you can microwave the squash. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, poke holes in the skin, wrap in plastic wrap, and microwave for 5 to 6 minutes. You can also purchase pre-cut butternut squash in microwavable bags.

- Be sure to add some protein to the dish to aid in recovery. Coburn recommends sliced chicken sausage (pictured here), salmon or grilled chicken.


For the gnocchi:

  • 1 butternut squash (yields about 2 cups cooked squash)
  • 5–6 cups all-purpose flour

For the herb sauce:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: Add a source of protein such as chicken sausage or salmon.


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Poke some holes on the skin with a fork, and place the squash (cut side down) on a baking sheet. To speed up the cooking, you can add a little bit of water to the baking sheet, which will help it steam. Place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes until tender.
  2. Scoop the flesh from the skin. In a blender or food processor, purée the squash until smooth. If the squash is undercooked, it will be lumpy, so make sure the squash is fully cooked and blended until nice and smooth (you should have at least 2 cups of puréed squash).
  3. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups puréed squash with 5 cups flour. Work the dough together, adding more flour as needed. You want the dough to be moist but not sticky. Add more flour to get the dough firm enough to work with.
  4. Once dough comes together and is no longer sticky, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a long, skinny “snake” about ¾ inch (2cm) thick. Cut each “snake” into ½-inch (1.25cm) pieces. To create ridges on the gnocchi, roll each piece down the back of a fork. (These ridges are what make gnocchi extra yummy because they help grab the sauce.) If you don’t plan to cook all the gnocchi right away, the uncooked gnocchi can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, cook the gnocchi for about 3 minutes per batch or until the gnocchi floats. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked gnocchi to a bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  6. To make the herb sauce, brown the butter in skillet over medium-high heat. The butter will melt and then foam and then begin to brown and smell nutty; don’t let it go too dark! Once the butter begins to brown, toss in the gnocchi. Then add the basil, thyme, garlic powder, and parsley. For extra protein, add sliced, pre-cooked chicken apple sausage. Add salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

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