Gnocchi with creamy butternut sauce

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I’m a very seasonal person. Despite the mainly chilly weather at the moment I can’t face putting tights or warm jackets on. Because it is summer. Instead I layer up on my upper body but keep my legs bare (if I’m wearing a skirt or dress for work). I’m used to this approach but people in the office think I’m a little strange. Fair enough, I think.

But when it comes to food it’s harder. Sure, I incorporate as much asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes and new potatoes into my diet as I possibly can, but instead of craving salads I still want warm filling food. So while this autumnal recipe of gnocchi with a lovely creamy butternut squash sauce with both cream and parmesan may suit the post-bikini season better it’s what I fancy eating right now. Until summer arrives. Then bring on the salads!

Gnocchi with creamy butternut sauce, serves 2 

1/2 butternut squash

olive oil

salt & pepper

approx 300 g gnocchi, cooked according to the instructions on the packet 

50-100 ml single cream

finely grated parmesan

a few sprigs of thyme (sage works too!)

Peel the squash and remove the strings and seeds. Cut into even-sized pieces and place in a roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Stir to coat all the pieces with oil. Place in the oven and roast until the pumpkin is soft, approx 35 mins in 200C. 

Cook the gnocchi and keep it warm.  

Purée the roasted squash with a stick blender. Add (cold) cream until you have a nice thick sauce. Season with salt, pepper and grated parmesan. Heat up the sauce in a non-stick saucepan while stirring, if needed. Pour the sauce over the gnocchi, top with more grated parmesan and some thyme leaves. 

Orzo pasta with wild garlic pesto, courgette and feta

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I snapped this picture as I was throwing this pasta together for lunch the next day, but I must say it exceeded my expectations so much I wish I had allowed myself time to take a nicer picture.

This is another dish where the sum is (much) greater than the individual parts; it’s just a simple dish that works. I love every bite of the slightly al dente pasta coated in fresh wild garlic pesto, the crunch from the raw thinly sliced baby courgettes, the bigger bits of tender-but-not-too-tender broccoli and the slightly melted pieces of tangy feta. I urge you to try it for your next picnic, barbecue or quick weekday supper.

Orzo pasta with wild garlic pesto, courgettes and feta, serves 2

200 ml orzo 

2-3 tbsp wild garlic pesto

1 baby courgette, thinly sliced

4 stems tenderstem broccoli 

100 g feta

a little olive oil if needed 

salt & pepper

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Put the broccoli in boiling salted water and cook until a little tender but still al dente and cut each stem into four. Drain the pasta in a sieve and pour it back into the empty saucepan. Stir in the pesto and add a little olive oil if needed. Add the courgette slices and the broccoli. Mix together and season to taste. Add the crumbled feta and stir once more before serving. 

Fried gnocchi with wild garlic pesto and cherry tomatoes

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I received evidence from my mother last week that the wild garlic season has started in Sweden, and therefore probably in the UK as well. Hurrah!

I love these oniony garlicky green leaves so much, I keep a bundle of blanched ones in the freezer at all times. It feels comforting that I can make wild garlic mayo all year round. Or wild garlic pesto. It’s fab with fried gnocchi (it gives them a bit more texture), fresh cherry tomatoes and plenty of grated parmesan.

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Fried gnocchi with wild garlic pesto and cherry tomatoes, serves 2

1 batch gnocchi 

1 batch wild garlic pesto

150 g cherry tomatoes

finely grated parmesan

Make the pesto and put it aside. Make the gnocchi and cook them. Then fry in butter until golden. Mix with plenty of the pesto. Cut the cherry the tomatoes in half and mix with the gnocchi. Season to taste. Add olive oil if you want a looser consistency. Top with plenty of grated parmesan.

Gnocchi with Stilton sauce and spinach

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Homemade gnocchi is easy to make and unlike when you make pasta you don’t need any machines or tools. Just a bowl, your hands and a fork. I also prefer home made gnocchi to the store bought ones as I find they go soggy faster (and in a different way).

For me, the best ways to serve gnocchi is either boiled with a simple sauce or for a bit more texture, fried with some pancetta and vegetables. During the winter months the sauce option is to prefer and this creamy Stilton sauce with spinach is just wonderful. Pure comfort.

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Gnocchi with Stilton sauce and spinach, serves 2

Inspired by a dish at Carluccio’s in London.

1 batch gnocchi

200 ml cream 

100 g Stilton

grated nutmeg

salt and white pepper

150-200 g fresh spinach

Make the gnocchi ready for the pan. Heat up the cream in a non-stick saucepan and add the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set aside. In a large sacuepan, add 1 cm water and bring to the boil. Add the spinach and put the lid on. Remove the lid after a minute and stir until the spinach have wilted. Drain from water in a sieve. 

Add the gnocchi to boiling water in a large saucepan. When they float up to the surface remove with a slotted spoon. Heat up the sauce. Divide the gnocchi and spinach between two plates. Spoon over the sauce and serve. 

Girolles pasta

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Before I left for Sweden my mother emailed me and asked how many girolles I wanted when I got there. ‘How many is there?’, I asked. ‘I bought three kilos’, mother said. ‘Well, could I have one kilo, please?!’

A whole KILOGRAM of my favourite mushroom – I feel rich! But before I went home I needed to make space in the freezer for my treasure and used up the last of the girolles from last year making this gorgeous pasta.

 

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Fettucine with browned butter, girolles, garlic, parsley and parmesan, serves 2

2 balls of De Cecco fettucine (my favourite dried pasta brand)

50 g salted butter

150 g girolles

1 small garlic clove

butter for frying

a bunch chopped parsley

salt and pepper

parmesan

Cook the pasta al dente. Brown the butter in a large saucepan (it splatters a bit); put on medium heat until it smells nutty and the butter underneath the from has a nice brown colour. Remove from heat. 

Fry the girolles in butter on medium heat. Add the chopped garlic towards the end. Season and scatter with parsley. 

Drain the pasta and mix with a few tablespoons of the browned butter (avoid the sediment on the bottom) and mix in with the girolles. Adjust the seasoning and add more butter if you like. Scatter with grated parmesan and serve. 

Wild garlic pesto

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When I was in Sweden last my mother gave me a large bag of wild garlic she picked for me, so back in London I made a batch of lovely pesto that I’ve been eating lately. The same day I made it I just had it with spaghetti and (more) grated parmesan as a light lunch. Delicious!

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Wild garlic pesto, approx 250 ml pesto

ca 50-70 g wild garlic (about a bunch as stick as a small banana)

30 g almonds

40 g parmesan

1/2 lemon, juice only 

mild oil, approx 100-150 ml 

salt & pepper

Mix wild garlic, almonds, lemon juice and parmesan with a bit of oil to a paste in a food processor or with a stick blender. Keep adding oil until you have the consistency you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keeps in the fridge for 5-7 days. 

Orzo pasta with goat’s cheese and gremolata

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This is actually my first encounter with orzo, the rice-shaped pasta, but definitely not the last. I like the texture and flavours of the creamy goat’s cheese contrasting the zesty punchy gremolata is fantastic. Recipe courtesy of Swedish food blog Matrepubliken.

I only made one change to the recipe, and that was to swap chèvre for softer goat’s cheese as I am not a fan of the rind on the chèvre.

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Orzo with goat’s cheese and gremolata, serves 4

2 finely chopped shallots

800 ml chicken or vegetable stock 

400 ml orzo pasta

100 g chèvre or soft goat’s cheese, in chunks

salt and pepper

Gremolata:

1 bunch parsley, finely chopped 

100 ml olive oil 

2 tbsp grated lemon zest

2 garlic cloves, pressed 

salt and pepper

Mix the ingredients for the gremolata and set aside. Fry the shallots in 1 tbsp butter without browning. Add the orzo and half the stock. Cook on low heat while stirring continuously (like when making risotto). Add more stock bit by bit. Once cooked add some butter, salt and pepper. Stir in the goat’s cheese. Plate and serve with a dollop of gremolata.