Autumn Gnocchi

Gnocchi are easy to make but they do require a bit of time and a fair few steps. So save this recipe for when you have the time to really take your time and enjoy the process. These colourful autumn gnocchi are made with an exciting new harvest on the farm, uchi kuri squash, and our beautiful beetroot.

Serve simply sautéd with butter, garlic, herbs and kale, or make a rich tomato pasta sauce to pop them on. Here’s a 30 second video to show you the process, otherwise, read on below. Liz x

Ingredients (serves approx 8)

  • a small winter squash like our uchi kuri (or sub with a butternut squash)
  • 8 small beetroots, or 4 large
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • plain flour (or a gluten free plain flour blend) – amounts vary, see method below
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 6 sprigs of rosemary (or sage?)
  • enough butter (or more olive oil) to sauté
  • 8 leaves of kale (sub with beetroot leaves if you have any fresh)
  • a few handfuls of hazelnuts (we sell compostable bags of organic hazelnuts here)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C and get two baking dishes ready.
  2. Chop your squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Chop the squash into chunks and put it into one roasting dish. Scrub the beetroots and chop them into chunks too. Put them into the other dish. No need to peel either of these lovely, organic vegetables.
  3. Season both dishes with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Then get them into the oven to roast until soft. This usually takes around 20-30 minutes, just keep an eye on them.
  4. Allow the roasted veg to cool a little, then blend the squash into a purée. Taste and slightly over-season with salt. It needs to be a little too salty as you will be adding a fair bit of flour next.
  5. Add 4 large serving spoons of plain flour to the food processor and gently pulse the mixture together. Be very careful not to over-mix as this can make the dough tough. I do this in a large food processor with the ‘S’ blade attachment, but you can use a stick blender to purée then just fold in the flour in a large bowl. Add more flour as needed (amounts vary as different vegetables have different water content) until you achieve a soft dough.
  6. Scoop the dough into a bowl, then repeat the process with the beetroot. You will probably find that the beetroot dough needs less flour.
  7. Cut the dough into manageable portions. Generously flour a clean work surface and roll the dough into thick snakes. Cut the snakes into bite size pieces.
  8. Gently roll each bite over a ridged gnocchi board or the back of a fork. Place the gnocchi onto large, floured plates or trays.
  9. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Then drop the squash gnocchi in, in small batches. Boil briefly, just until they start to rise to the surface, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place in a tray, ready to sauté. Repeat this process until all the squash gnocchi are boiled, then do the same with the beetroot. Do the beetroot AFTER the squash so that the squash gnocchi don’t get stained pink.
  10. At this point you can space out any gnocchi you won’t be needing right away on a tray and freeze. When they are frozen solid they can be tipped into a box in the freezer to use another day.
  11. Gnocchi can be sautéed, roasted, boiled, baked in a sauce… I think they are best sautéed in butter or olive oil and winter herbs. Get a large frying pan on the hob with a very generous knob of butter, tumble in as many gnocchi as you like and sauté until hot and starting to take on some colour.
  12. Add torn kale leaves, sliced garlic, rosemary and chopped hazelnuts to the pan and cook until the kale has wilted and the nuts are toasty. Season as needed and serve.

Purple Sweet Potato Gnocchi

The best current gut health science advises that we should be including as much plant diversity in our diets as possible. According to Dr Megan Rossi, one of the worlds leading gut health scientists and researchers, we should aim for 30 diverse ‘plant points’ every week. Do you eat 30 different plants a week? We certainly hope our veg boxes help you along the way to hitting that target.

We all know about the importance of eating our greens, but did you know that purple foods are really important to include in our diets too? Purple fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants called anthocyanins? All brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which help prevent or delay cell damage. It’s best to get a full range of all the different types of antioxidants out there, so in the spirit of eating the rainbow, I’ve been trying out one of the new vegetables we have in, the vibrant, purple sweet potato! I’ve already made an irresistible classic – baked purple sweet potatoes with a bean chilli – and I couldn’t not make some gnocchi. Here’s the surprisingly simple recipe. I made a batch of butternut gnocchi at the same time for even more plant diversity on our plates. How will you eat purple sweet potatoes?

Enjoy! Liz x

Ingredients

  • purple sweet potatoes (one per person)
  • plain flour (amounts vary – see method)
  • salt to taste
  • butter/oil for frying
  • pesto to serve (make your own or we deliver a choice of organic pestos, add them to your fruit and veg order here)

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 200C. Scrub one sweet potato per person. Prick the potatoes with a fork and bake them in a tray in the oven until soft all the way through. Sweet potatoes cook faster than regular potatoes, so test them after 20 minutes.

Allow the potatoes to cool to a temperature you can handle. Then peel them or slice them in half and scoop out the soft flesh.

Mash or puree the baked sweet potato flesh in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Season the mash really well with salt (bearing in mind you will be adding flour).

Then start adding flour, a little at a time, and mixing it into the puree until you reach a soft dough consistency*. I generally use plain flour or strong white bread flour but most flours work. You can easily make these gluten free by using a plain flavoured gluten free flour like rice flour or a plain gluten free flour blend.

Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and gently knead into a smooth, soft ball. Do not overwork the dough, you want to keep it tender.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Get a frying pan and some butter or oil ready too.

Roll the ball of dough into a long snake about 2 cm thick. You may wish to divide the dough into manageable pieces, depending on how big a batch you are making.

Cut the snake into bite sized pieces. You can leave the pieces in the pillow shapes they are, or roll them into balls then over a gnocchi board to make little grooves. Alternatively you can roll the pieces over the back of a fork.

Boil the gnocchi in the pot of boiling water in small batches. Once they start to float to the top of the pot, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and fry them in the frying pan with a little oil or butter until they are hot and crispy and take on some colour.

Toss the hot gnocchi with some pesto (you can loosen the pesto with a little of the pasta water if needed) and enjoy with some peppery salad leaves.

*I made a batch of butternut squash gnocchi at the same time. The method is the same. But as butternut squashes generally contain more water than sweet potatoes, they need a fair bit more flour to turn into dough.

Butternut Gnocchi Baked in Béchamel

Introducing the slightly more laborious, but much more exciting cousin of macaroni cheese! Béchamel Baked Butternut Gnocchi! This is comfort food at it’s finest.

My vegan béchamel sauce is very simple to put together, and for this I’ve simply whisked it up and poured it over sautéed celery and leek. Then I popped in lots of freshly boiled butternut gnocchi (not as tricky to make as it seems), scattered over some tangy capers and crushed pumpkin seeds and baked it until the béchamel was bubbling and thickened! I got some gorgeous cherry tomatoes in my box last week so I placed them on top to roast in the oven. Their bright acidity is the perfect foil to the creamy richness of the béchamel and gnocchi.

I’d love to see your photos if you make this dish. Share them with us over on our friendly facebook group or tag us @greenearthorganics1 on Instagram and don’t forget to share this blog post with your friends. Liz x

Ingredients for the Gnocchi

  • 1 butternut squash
  • enough plain flour to bring it into a dough (this varies depending on the water content and size of your squash)
  • salt, pepper and optional herbs or spices (sage/rosemary/thyme/chilli flakes…)

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 200C.

Cut a small butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and bake it – cut side down – in a hot oven (200C) until the flesh is soft all the way through. Test it with a small knife, it should easily slide into the soft, roasted butternut. (This normally takes 30 minutes or so. While it’s in the oven, get on with the sauce and preparing the toppings below.)

Allow the squash to cool to the point where you can easily handle it, then scoop out all the roasted flesh and mash or blend it into a smooth purée.

Find your biggest pot, 2/3rds fill it with water and get it on the stove to heat up to a rolling boil while you make the gnocchi.

Season the purée with salt and pepper and taste to check the seasoning. It should be slightly too salty as you are going to fold in a fair bit of flour. You can also add optional extra flavours at this stage. For example chilli flakes and sage or rosemary and lemon zest… or just leave it plain, that’s delicious too!

Then stir in enough flour to turn the purée into a soft dough. You can use plain flour (make sure there are no raising agents in it) or strong bread flour or even a gluten free plain flour blend. Gnocchi works best with white flour rather than wholemeal.

The amount of flour varies depending on the size and moisture content of your squash. Just start with a mug or so, gently fold it in and keep going until it’s the right consistency to be tipped out onto a floured work surface and very briefly kneaded. You want to work it as little as possible to keep it tender, but just enough to bring it together into a manageable ball of dough. It should be soft and sticky, get a helper to keep dusting the work surface and your hands with flour to make it more manageable.

Cut the ball of dough into 4, then roll one of the quarters into a thick snake. Chop the snake into little bites. If you want to make little traditional looking grooves in the gnocchi you can stamp each bite with a fork or you can roll them over a gnocchi board if you have one… or simply roll them into balls.

Then drop the gnocchi into the now boiling water in batches. Gently loosen them from the bottom of the pot with a slotted spoon. When they rise to the top of the water they are done and can be scooped out and placed in the sauce below. I do them in batches of one snake at a time, then while that batch is boiling I get the next snake ready.

Keep going until all your gnocchi dough is used up. If you make too much for the bake, then you can cool down and keep the excess boiled gnocchi in the fridge/freezer and use it another day (pan fry it with a little olive oil or butter and serve with pesto and salad?)

Ingredients for the Béchamel & Toppings

Method

In an oven and hob safe, large, wide pan, sauté the sliced celery, leek and garlic with the butter or olive oil and some salt and pepper until soft. Then turn off the heat. (If you don’t have an oven and hob safe large dish like this, you can just sauté the veg and tip it into a roasting tray instead.)

Then whisk the flour, milk, mustard, nutritional yeast, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a large jug or mixing bowl and pour the mixture over the sautéed celery and leeks.

Boil the gnocchi in batches as above and pop them into the dish on top of the sauce.

In a small blender or large pestle and mortar, crush/blend the handful of pumpkin seeds with a small handful of nutritional yeast for a crunchy, savoury topping. Scatter this over the gnocchi and sauce.

Sprinkle over the capers and cherry tomatoes then pop the dish into the oven (with an optional drizzle of olive oil) to bake until the gnocchi are burnished golden brown and the sauce is thick and bubbling. This should take around 20-30 minutes.

Serve with a simple green salad and an ice cold glass of white wine and enjoy!