Between midterms, hosting Carol Adams’ Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show, and getting my recovery piece published on Our Hen House, I’ve simply not found the time nor energy to devote to recipe experimentation for the ol’ blog. Hopefully, my 20-some days of Ferry House dinners for Vegan MoFo 2013 kept you inspired throughout my two-week absence; if not, I dare guarantee that the recipe that I’d like to share with you today will inspire your forgiveness.
As October continues and we delve further into autumn, I’ve predictably found my gastronomic energies gravitating toward the warming, grounding foods that grace the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, from which Ferry House procures a double farm share each week. Last Saturday, I had the immense honor of biking to pick up the House farm share on a bright, crisp morning, stuffing my canvas tote bags chock full of kale, swiss chard, spinach, celeriac, beets, rutabagas, butternut squash, broccoli, and carrots. Since the majority of my housemates have departed from campus to enjoy our week-long October Break elsewhere, I’ve had the luck of basking in this wealth of fall produce with only a handful of other people, able to concoct maple-glazed, pumpkin-spiced, caramelized, autumnal goodness at my leisure. Photos of two such concoctions follow:
While both of the above dinners certainly fulfilled my longing for warming and grounding eats, one could easily find today’s recipe featured next to the phrase “quintessential fall foods” in the Farmers Market Vegan Dictionary (release date TBA). Combing caramelized butternut squash, savory sage, and the epitome of autumn comfort otherwise known as maple syrup into fluffy pasta pillows, this dish will nourish the soul just as exquisitely as it will the body. Served atop a bed of garlicky kale and pinto beans, this succulent gnocchi provided the hearty, soulful meal that I deeply desired after a 26-mile bike ride to and from New Paltz (yes, I will bike the equivalent of a marathon for vegan, ethically sourced chocolate from Lagusta’s Luscious).
While I used chickpea flour for the gnocchi, you can really use any lightly colored flour that suits your fancy—I’ve successfully produced gnocchi before with brown rice flour, but I suspect that millet and quinoa flours would also work well. However, you can definitely discern the flavor of the flour in the gnocchi, so choose a flour that agrees with your taste buds. I personally enjoy the bean sprouty flavor of chickpea flour, but know that I could not stomach the bitter undertone of quinoa flour in a delicate dish like gnocchi. Whichever flour you choose, prepare yourself for a piping hot bowl of autumnal snugness.
Butternut Squash Gnocchi in Maple Cinnamon Sage Brown “Butter”—Soy Free, Nut Free, Low Sodium
For the gnocchi:
1 medium butternut squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out
1 1/4-1/2 cups chickpea flour, plus more for dusting
For the brown “butter”:
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp salt
Pinch black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the butternut squash halves facedown on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour enough water on the sheet to come about a quarter of the way up the pan. Place in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle.
Set a medium-sized pot of water to boil.
When the squash has adequately cooled, scoop out the flesh. Measure out about 2 cups of the flesh, and mix it with 1 1/4 cups of the chickpea flour. If the mixture seems to sticky, add another 1/4 cup.
Dust the countertop (or another flat work surface) with chickpea flour. Divide the gnocchi dough into quarters and roll each one out into a thickish snake, dusting your work surface with additional flour as needed to ensure that the gnocchi doesn’t stick. Cut each snake into 1-inch pieces.
When the water has begun to boil, place the gnocchi 10 at a time in the pot. Allow to cook until they float to the surface of the water, about 30 seconds. Scoop out of the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander set atop a bowl. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi.
When all of the gnocchi has finished cooking, combine all of the brown “butter” ingredients in a sauté pan and set over medium-high heat until the mixture just starts to bubble. Add the gnocchi to the pan and sauté for about 1-2 minutes, taking care to coat the gnocchi well in the “butter.” Remove from the heat and serve, perhaps over a bed of garlicky kale (mmm…).
Until next time, Ali.