Whole Garden Gnocchi


Who knew I could feed myself from a front yard garden alone? Other than the flour, I grew everything for this dish in my small, urban yard; potatoes, garlic, chard, tomatoes and squash.

I may have mentioned my front yard transformation last spring. With the help of a great neighbour, a dumping of dirt, a seed catalogue and some eager kids, we transferred lawn into an edible space.

Less the brussels sprouts and the chard, most of the garden now harvested. There were the three varieties of potatoes; Peruvian Reds, Blue and Russian Fingerlings, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash, sweet Yellow Pear Tomatoes just for this dish alone. (It doesn’t even hint at the edamame, peas, beans, beets, asparagus, blueberries, herbs, okra, cabbages, zucchini, pumpkins… corn… wow!)

After digging up a surplus of potatoes, I needed a few ideas on what to do with them. With BBQ season pretty much a thing of the past, potato salad wasn’t topping my list as much as the gnocchi. Besides, I just had to when I saw the light pinkiness of the potatoes and the great texture that was perfect for such a thing.

Feeding yourself all on your own, that’s local.
Now, that’s something to be thankful for!

PERUVIAN PINK POTATO GNOCCHI

1Lb Potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (you can use other starchy potatoes, like Russetts as well)
1 Cup All Purpose Flour, plus more for rolling.
1/4 teaspoon Salt

In a large bowl, finely mash the cooked potatoes so they are lump free.
Add the salt and half of the flour then add 1/4 cup at a time stirring to combine and bring everything together in a smooth dough. You may not need it all.
Depending on your work surface, third or quarter the dough. Take one piece and cover remaining pieces.
Roll the dough into long “snakes” and cut into 1″ pieces.
Roll each piece off the back of a floured fork and repeat finishing all of the dough.
Drop into salted boiling water and cook gnocchi until they float; about 3 – 4 minutes.

While the gnocchi were boiling I made the “sauce” of tomatoes, chard, squash and garlic.
I cubed the peeled, cleaned squash and sautéed it, covered in a large, lightly oiled pan. Once the pieces began to soften, I removed the lid to let the stem escape and pieces brown.
I added two cloves of finely chopped garlic and the chard to cook for another two minutes.
Once the chard had wilted, I added 1 cup of sliced yellow pear tomatoes, salt, pepper and a palmful of chopped basil.
Simple and delicious.

Fantabulous Summer Pea Ravioli


I like peas, actually, I figure most people do, so I can’t help but get a little giddy & nostalgic when I see the flooding piles of pea pods carefully anchored in the farmer’s crates at market.

They’re crisp, green, a little dusty but ever so perfect.

I always seem to strangely imagine a large shady porch, so perfect for sitting, chatting and watching the clothes blow in the line from the warmest summer breezes.
A big bowl is handy for catching the just cracked and tossed pods with another for rolling the fresh, young peas into.

As I bring my “fantasy” into realization, (sans a shady anything, big bowl or even laundry) I discover that shelling peas loses it’s glint after, say, about the eighth one.

But they are good. Damn, they are good. I don’t want to even cook them, just crack and roll them into my salivating jaws and realize that is a much better than any summer pea fantasy.

I rarely do more than steam peas and blob a knub of butter on them. I’m not a mint or little pearl onion kind of gal. However I got this idea for a recipe to repackage these newly podded peas to, you know, share with friends and I just had to give it a try.

SUMMER PEA RAVIOLI

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Leek, white and very light green parts only, finely chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Cups Green Peas, shelled
1 1/2 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Dry Vermouth
1 1/2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

SOY RICOTTA
1 Cup Soy Milk
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Salt

HOMEMADE PASTA
1/2 Cup Unbleached Flour
1/2 Cup Semolina Flour
1/3 Cup Hot Water
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

To make the pasta, combine the flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor.
With the motor running add the the oil, then, in a steady stream, add the hot water.
Continue to process. When the dough comes together, stop adding any water, if any remains. (Otherwise if your dough hasn’t come together once all water has been added, drizzle over more hot water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it does.)
Remove the dough from the food processor and quickly knead together to form a ball. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Quarter and cover the dough and let it rest until ready to use.
To prepare the peas, heat the oil in a large sauté pan.
Add the chopped leek and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, then add the vermouth.
Add to it, the peas, water, herbs, salt and pepper.
Meanwhile combine the soy milk, lemon juice and salt in a non-reactive bowl.
Allow it to sit while you continue with the peas.
Simmer to blanch the peas and reduce the water by about half.
Then, drain the curdled soy milk through a mesh sieve or cheesecloth and leave it to remove as much liquid as possible.
Purée the peas in a food processor on high or through a food mill.
Layer a colander over a mesh sieve which has been placed over a bowl.
Push the mixture through the colander and let what remains in the sieve to remove excess liquid.
Reserve the liquid in the bowl for the sauce.
Prepare the pasta, which has been divided into four, then roll it out into thin sheets.
Combine the pea purée with the soy ricotta.
Dot the pea purée by the teaspoonful along the first sheet of pasta.

With a water and a pastry brush, dampen the edges around the purée.
Lay another pasta sheet on top and with your fingertips, push out any air and seal the edges around each, soon to be ravioli.
With a roller, or ravioli cutter, cut out each piece.
Repeat with the two remaining sheets of pasta and pea purée.

Cook the ravioli in a large pot of rapidly boiling water for about 2-3 minutes or until they all float.
Meanwhile, melt knub of (vegan) butter, about 2 tablespoons and add about 1/2 cup of the reserved, strained pea liquid to heat. Once it’s simmering add 2 tablespoons of vermouth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Continue to simmer until the ravioli is done.
Remove with the ravioli from the water with a slotted spoon.
To plate, evenly spoon the sauce in the center of four plates and top with ravioli.
Garnish with fresh pea shoots and cracked pepper, if desired.

Serves 4.

Favourite Things Dinner


Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday. It’s become a bit of a tradition and now her birthday dinner consists of her year’s list of favourite things. Apps, entrée, sides, beverage, heck, even the dinner music is chosen by said truly. Amazing thing is that the family lines up for it, listens to Raffi or Death Cab for Cutie and holds out their plates with a smile.

What was on the menu this year? We’ll pretty much the standard of the previous ones; Carrot sticks, chocolate soy milk, “Ringalos” (which were new for this year), strawberry shortcake and her BFF (bestest favourite forever): Mac and Cheese.

Since there are usually guest and family members for her birthday, this is of course the vegan version. I’ve seen dozens of version some which include cashews or tofu but I’d decided on a version that about as close to the real thing as you can get… just without the shredded cheese… or cream.

CHEESELESS MACARONI N’ CHEESE

250g Elbow Macaroni, about 1/2 Lb
1 Tablespoon Margarine, or butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 3/4 Cups Plain Soy Milk
2 bay leaves
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and broken with the side of a chef’s knife
Scant 1/2 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon Tumeric Powder
Pinch Cayenne Pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Cook the pasta as to package directions to el dente.
Drain, rinse and set aside.
Warm the milk over a low heat and add the bay leaves and garlic.
In a medium saucepan, melt the margarine then sprinkle over the flour mixing well to combine and smooth to make a roux.
Strain the milk and whisk into the flour mixture.
Add the spices and salt, continuing to whisk occasionally to remove any chance of lumps until saucy thick and smooth.
Pour over drained pasta, stirring to coat.

Spinach Pesto


I used to be one of those people who would see those enormous tubs of spinach, you know the ones that are at least a pound, and not imagine what sized family could possibly consume that much salad in a week. Seeing that baby spinach weighs a little more than air, that’s quite a bit of greens. However, since converting and making a “baby spinach only” vow, it’s on my weekly grocery list. I put handfuls of it into just about everything I cook that will take it; like soups, omelettes or pasta. The rest go into my every other daily salad or into this super mild and creamy staple: pesto.

SPINACH PESTO

2 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves
Handful of Flat Leaf Parsley, about 1/2 cup
4 – 5 Large Basil Leaves
1/2 cup Walnuts, lightly toasted
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Pinch of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pile everything but the oil into a food processor and combine well.
Using a spatula, scrape the sides then reattach the lid.
With the motor running, drizzle in the oil through the feed tube one tablespoon at a time until everything is smooth but not oily. You may only end up using 2 tablespoons. (Use the remainder for topping the pesto, if you’re keeping it in the fridge.)

Pesto may be kept in a sealed container, topped with oil. Otherwise, it freezes very well in ice cube trays or flattened, in a ziploc bag, where you can break off desired amounts for soups, crustini or pasta for one.

Yields about 1 Cup.

Roasted Garlic Paperadelle


1/2 Cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Semolina Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Head Roasted Garlic*, squeezed to remove the skins
1/3 Cup HOT Water

* To roast garlic, preheat the oven to 350ºF and cut off the top of the bulb to reveal the attached cloves.
Placed in aluminum foil, drizzle the top of the garlic with olive oil to cover but not saturate.
Wrap the foil tightly and place into the oven.
Roast the garlic for about 30 minutes or until soft, caramelized and fragrant.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flours and salt; mix to combine.
With the motor running at a medium to low speed, add the olive oil then the roasted garlic through the feeder tube.
Drizzle 1/4 Cup of the water to begin. As the dough begins to form and appear crumbly, slowly add small amounts of the remaining water, as you may not need it all.
When the dough comes together in a full ball, turn off the food processor and remove the dough to a slightly floured board to knead.
Knead the dough until it is stretchy but not sticky, about 2 minutes.
Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or while you prepare your sauce.
Cut the dough into 3 – 4 workable pieces, which ever size you are most comfortable handling, and set all but one aside in a covered bowl.
Either using a pasta maker or by hand, with a rolling pin, roll the dough to about a 1/8″ thickness, then cut into 1 1/2″ wide strips.
Lightly dust with semolina to separate and loosen the noodles, if necessary, as you finish rolling and cutting the remainder of the dough.Fresh pasta takes only a fraction of the time dried pasta needs. Drop the freshly cut pasta into a large pot of rapidly boiling water and cook for 3 – 4 minutes for al denté.

Marina Di Chioggia Gnocchi


Upon returning from vacation I couldn’t help but notice one of my pumpkins from my collection. The skin of my Marina Di Chioggia had turned much darker than its original green and although I don’t know a whole heck of a lot about pumpkins and their various shades green, I do know that my prized Marina Di Chioggia is one of the most delectable of all the gourd breeds.

From the coasts near Venice, love is in the air for the pumpkin aptly nicknamed “Deliziosa”. The hard, green shell of this heirloom pumpkin may be a pain to peel, or even get into for that matter, but it’s sweet, subtle flavour and silky flesh certainly make it worth it. To claim victory over the tough to surrender peel, just make one cut around to get in and clean out the seeds, then simply roast the pumpkin in a short depth of water for about 90 minutes at 350ºF.

Of all the heirlooms gathered from the patch this season, the glorious Marina Di Chioggia is perfect for just about any recipe. It’s sweet yet delicate and can hold it’s own beautifully in pies, pasta and of course, gnocchi.

Perpetually intimidated by making gnocchi, with or without eggs, I found that this pumpkin is a great addition to the delightful dumplings. Typically worried about them being gummy and dense or at worst, falling apart in the cooking water, I found nothing of the sort. The dough was quite soft, so depending on the extent of draining you do, climate you live in and any other moisture factors, you may have to adjust the amount of flour to create a workable dough.

…And with a terrific yield, everyone can look forward to a few great pumpkin recipes to add to autumn and holiday collection.


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