This addictive, lemony gnocchi is a butter lover's dream dish

The secret to a great dinner? Lots and lots of butter

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published September 1, 2022 5:59PM (EDT)

Lemony miso gnocchi (Mary Elizabeth Williams)
Lemony miso gnocchi (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

In "Quick & Dirty," Salon Food's Mary Elizabeth Williams serves up simplified recipes and shortcuts for exhausted cooks just like you — because quick and dirty should still be delicious.

Among the greatest insights about cooking I've ever read is Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" confession that "in the world of chefs, butter is in everything." 

"In a good restaurant, what this all adds up to is that you could be putting away almost a stick of butter with every meal," the iconic chef wrote

I think about this whenever anyone compliments my cooking because if you're magnanimous about butter, people will unfailingly love your food.

This life hack was top of mind as I read Odette Williams' "Simple Pasta." Like her breakthrough "Simple Cake," the Australian author and recipe developer's latest cookbook is crammed with ideas that are as luxurious as they are unfussy.

While Williams offers plenty of wisdom on the joyful process of making homemade pasta, you can easily adapt any of her recipes using the store-bought stuff. I also appreciate the fact that she includes desserts. I think every cookbook should — even a pasta one. 

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You might think that in a recipe for potato gnocchi with miso butter, the deep, savory miso would be doing all the heavy lifting. But it's that Bourdain-worthy six tablespoons of butter that brings everything together, creating an unforgettably addictive sauce.

Williams makes her gnocchi with a springtime abundance of asparagus. I tweaked mine with some end-of-summer dark greens and a vibrant squeeze of lemon.

The whole business takes mere minutes to prepare, and the end result is a dish that is not only rich but also refreshing. This is comfort food for those cooler nights when you know that summer is ending — but not quite yet.


Inspired by "Simple Pasta: Pasta Made Easy. Life Made Better." by Odette Williams

Lemony Miso Butter Gnocchi
 4 servings
Prep Time
 10 minutes
Cook Time
 10  minutes


  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds potato gnocchi 
  • 1 big handful arugula or other dark, tender greens, washed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground white or black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons light miso
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnishing



  1. In a frying pan or large skillet, heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and season with salt and pepper, sautéing until just softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.

  2. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 2 to 4 minutes.

  3. Add the miso and remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir to combine, dragging and flattening the miso to incorporate. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Stir and remove from the heat.

  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and cook no more than 2 to 3 minutes, until they start to float to the top.

  5. Rewarm the miso butter over low heat.

  6. Using a kitchen spider or slotted spoon, add the cooked gnocchi to the miso butter and gently stir to coat. As the mixture bubbles up, allow the gnocchi to pan-fry until the exteriors are crispy.

  7. Remove the gnocchi from the heat. Add the arugula and stir until it wilts. 

  8. Spoon onto a serving plate and top with a generous zesting of lemon peel and grated cheese.

Cook's Notes

I used mini gnocchi for an extra crispy, light dish.

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By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

MORE FROM Mary Elizabeth Williams

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