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!

Leek & Thyme Tarte Tatin

I love a tarte tatin. It’s one of those deceptively simple dishes. One that wows your guests but is actually really very easy to make. A traditional tarte tatin is a French dessert made with caramelised apples and puff pastry. But you can take the concept and run with it in any direction. I love making savoury versions as a light lunch or fancy looking starter with beautiful, bitter salad leaves. Balsamic beetroot? Parsnip and apple? Red onion? Brussels sprout and chestnut? The list goes on. But my favourite by far has to be this luscious leek version.

Leek might be one of the most underrated vegetables. When highlighted like this and showcased as the main event, leeks really stand out as the beautiful, sweet, soft vegetables that they are. Mellow and silky, leeks go incredibly well with vinegar and thyme. If you want to take it up a notch you could add a slick of Dijon mustard to the pastry before tucking it over the leeks too. Another variation I make sometimes is with a sprinkle of capers in the base of the pan. That combination of sweet, sharp and fragrant is so incredibly good. I hope you enjoy it!

Did you try this recipe? Don’t forget to share it with your friends, tag us @greenearthorganics1 in any photos on Instagram and let us know how it went in the comments. Liz x

Ingredients (serves 8 as a starter)

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C. Get an oven and hob safe pan ready. If you don’t have one you can use a baking dish and do the entire process in steps in the oven instead.

Start by cleaning the leeks. The easiest way to do this is to split them down the middle, keeping the root end intact, then run them under a tap to quickly clean the mud out of each layer.

In an oven and hob safe pan, melt the butter then add the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle over the sugar and half the thyme leaves. (If you want to add capers to the dish, do it now. Sprinkle a tbsp or two evenly into the pan for the odd little salty flavour bomb.)

Then measure the leeks against the pan and cut them in long slices to snugly fit, cut side down, the entire base of the pan. Try and keep the slices intact, don’t move them around once they are in place.

Add the vinegar to the leeks and then season them well with a big pinch of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Add a few more fresh thyme leaves – reserve some for decorating the dish at the end. Allow the leeks to par cook on the hob so that they start to caramelise with the sugar and fat before adding the pastry.

Turn the heat off then, working quickly, cover the leeks with the puff pastry. Trim it to size and use the off cuts to fill any gaps. This will be the bottom of the tart so no need to be too neat. (If you’d like to add Dijon mustard, brush it over the pastry before popping it on the leeks, mustard side down.)

Tuck the pastry gently in around the edges then pop the dish into the oven to bake. It should only take around 20 minutes or so but just keep an eye on it. It’s ready when the pastry is risen and golden.

Then take the pan out of the oven and let it settle for a couple of minutes. Put a large platter or wooden chopping board over the pan, then in one swift, confident movement, turn the dish upside down (don’t forget to use oven gloves as the pan will still be hot!)

Carefully pick up the upside down pan and you should have a gorgeous dish! Sprinkle over some more fresh thyme leaves, slice with a large, very sharp knife and serve with a simple salad.

Here’s a quick video of the recipe. Hope you find it helpful!

This would be fantastic with a chilled glass of white wine. Check out our organic selection here.


Parsnip & Pear Soup

Parsnip & Pear Soup with Hazelnut Dukka

This soup is very simple, but delicately sophisticated. I would say it’s even good enough for the festive table! Parsnips and pears are a match made in heaven and I think you’ll agree that my hazelnut dukka really makes the dish sing. The spiced, toasty crunch of dukka offsets the sweetness of the parsnips and pears, and a little drizzle of peppery extra virgin oil rounds off the bowl.


Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
  • 1 knob of butter
  • the white part of a leek – rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 1 scrubbed and trimmed parsnip – roughly chopped
  • 2 small pears – quartered and cored
  • salt to taste
  • pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)
  • hazelnut dukka (see recipe below)

Method

In a pot, gently soften the leeks, parsnip and pear with the olive oil, butter and a pinch of salt. Once the vegetables start to soften and wilt down, just cover them with water and simmer until the parsnips are cooked through. Then blend the soup until very smooth with a handheld stick blender (or let it cool down and blend in a food processor). Taste for seasoning and add more salt and a fragrant pinch of nutmeg if you like (this just makes it extra festive). Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of hazelnut dukka.

Hazelnut Dukka

Dukka is an Egyptian nut and spice blend which is absolutely delicious. You’ll be hooked once you try it so it’s worth learning to make your own. My version is fairly simple to make.

I find an empty jar that I want to store it in and half fill it with hazelnuts. Walnuts or mixed nuts are great too. Then toast the nuts (for hazelnuts, I do this in a tray in a hot oven – just keep an eye on them and give the tray a shake every now and then so that they toast evenly – it should only take around 10 minutes).

Then tip the hazelnuts onto a clean tea towel on your work surface, place another tea towel on top and rub your hands quite firmly on the tea towel and the skins will just flake off. Then pick out the skinned and toasted hazelnuts and chop them with a large, sharp knife and put them in the jar.

The rest of the jar space should be taken up with toasted sesame, cumin and coriander seeds in fairly equal proportions. I just eyeball it and toast these one at a time in a dry frying pan, or altogether in the oven. I like to bash up the toasted coriander seeds a bit with a pestle and mortar first.

Then give the jar a shake to mix up the ingredients, let it cool completely with the lid off before popping the jar on your shelf to use on lots of different dishes. Your dukka should stay fresh for at least a month.

Did you make this soup? Let us know how it went in the comments and feel free to share the recipe with your friends and family. Share photos of our recipes on the Green Earth Organics Healthy Eating Facebook page or tag us @greenearthorganics1 over on Instagram. We love to see our recipes leave the page! Liz x