Little dumplings everywhere

We discovered the wonders of butternut squash gnocchi back in February, when we were enjoying last year’s winter squash harvest.  Last week, we made our first batch with this year’s squash.

We used this recipe for butternut dumplings (AKA gnocchi) with sage brown butter.  We substituted whole wheat pastry flour for the all purpose flour, as always.

If you’ve never made gnocchi before, it’s a bit of work, but worth the effort!

After the dough comes together, take a chunk and roll it into a long rope (back of above picture).  Then cut the rope into small chunks.  If you’re feeling lazy, you can stop here, but they cook better (and look fun) if you make an indentation with fork tines and then wrap around the handle of a spoon to make a nice C-shape.

After boiling for a few minutes, you have finished gnocchi.  Drizzle the sage browned butter on top, and dinner is served!

This recipe makes a lot of gnocchi.  After the shaping step, but BEFORE the cooking step, we set half of the gnocchi on plates in a single layer to freeze.

Once they’re frozen, toss them in a container or baggy for a quick, delicious meal some other night.

Quinoa-stuffed acorn squash

Do you have quinoa cooked up?  If not, cook some quinoa.

Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Place cut-side down in a baking dish with a few tablespoons of water.  Bake at 350-400 degrees F (temperature is flexible and can be set to accommodate other things you’re baking at the same time) until the squash is tender (20-30 minutes?).

After the squash is in the oven, chop some onions, garlic, and bell peppers (you can toss in almost any veggie you like here).  Saute in olive oil, then remove from heat and stir in the cooked quinoa.  Add dried fruit — I used golden raisins, but cranberries would be good.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When squash is tender, turn them over and fill the squash “bowls” with the quinoa mixture.  Top with toasted almonds and bake for 5-10 more minutes.

Butter with a side of vegetables

If you’re looking for decadent vegetarian comfort food, The Barefoot Contessa’s “Vegetable Pot Pie” is your dish.  While the vegetables make this somewhat healthy, don’t be fooled, it has TONS of butter.  (I’ve concluded that if a recipe doesn’t have at least a pound of butter, it’s not a Barefoot Contessa recipe.)

In our most recent rendition, we made this with vegetables almost entirely from our garden: butternut squash, carrots, onions, potatoes, green beans (subbed for the asparagus), and parsley.  The only non-garden veggies were the fennel (which we tried to grow) and the “small frozen onions” which I really don’t like that much anyway and may just omit next time.

My pastry chef makes the pie crust with 100% whole wheat pastry flour — healthy and so much tastier and more interesting than plain old white flour!

A few notes:

  • We skip the Pernod (an anise flavored liquor).
  • Don’t skip the saffron!!!  It’s pricey, but a little goes a long way — it’s important to the flavor here.
  • To make it vegetarian, we use veggie broth or stock instead of chicken stock.
  • We tend to be generous with the amount of vegetables.
  • To make it healthier, eat a small serving of the pot pie with some lighter side dishes to round out the meal.  I served this with a tomato salad last week.

Twisted Caprese

When Matthew suggested adding peaches to our Caprese salad last week, I reacted with a bit of skepticism.  However, having recently read Emily’s post on combining tomatoes and peaches, I was willing to give it a try.

Chopped tomatoes and peaches with fresh basil, balsamic, olive oil, mozzarella cubes, and s&p.  The verdict?  A refreshing and fun twist on a Caprese salad — we’ll still eat the traditional, non-peach, version most of the time, but we enjoyed the change.

I made a lentil and millet pilaf to round out the meal, with whatever fresh veggies struck my fancy (carrots, garlic chives, yellow squash, orange bell pepper), dressed with some garlic olive oil*, a bit of red wine vinegar, and some s&p.  I stirred in some Dijon mustard at the end, one of my new favorite ingredients.  Plus some avocado (so NOT local) for added deliciousness!

* To make garlic olive oil, simply pour some olive oil in a jar and add a couple of cloves of minced garlic (a garlic press comes in handy here, but you can also just chop it up very small).  For maximum flavor, let sit a couple of days before using.  Keep refrigerated.  A little bit goes a long way, and at a fraction of the price of buying the Garlic Gold Oil that I’ve read about on KathEats.
Entry to Nupur’s Blog Bites 6: Potluck Edition.

Taking sides

I was unaware of the strict separation on my plate until I looked at this photo.

On the left: Green beans and Chinese red noodle beans (see this post for the beans before I snapped them into bite-sized pieces — 12 inches long!), steamed for 5-7 minutes, then tossed with seasoned rice vinegar and a touch of sesame oil.

On the right: Sauteed bell peppers (red, orange, and green), onions, corn, and edamame* with grilled summer squash served over brown rice.

*I’ve tried to grow edamame twice now, with little success, but my father-in-law shared some of his beautiful crop.  We steamed a big batch in the pods, then ate some straight out of the pod and shelled the rest for this dish.