September 11, 2011
Transition Into Fall with Spelt Squash Gnocchi
Welcome to the September full moon, a poignant transition time between late summer and fall. Garden vegetables grow sweeter during cool nights, somehow knowing that this is their last chance to flourish. Savor autumn's balance between abundance and surrender. It will bring harmony to the winter months ahead. My father and I recently re-created a recipe for gnocchi, traditional northern Italian dumplings, in a way that bridges the transition between late summer and fall. We combined potatoes from the early harvest with the first winter squash to create a dish where summer meets fall. Enjoy!
Spelt Gnocchi with Winter Squash and Potatoes
Choose 4 medium potatoes with dry flesh and 1/2 small butternut squash.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Roast the squash inside its skin in a baking dish with 1/2 cup of water for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in water until soft.
When the squash flesh is tender, remove it from the oven, scoop out the seeds, and then scoop out the flesh. Discard the seeds and skin and set the flesh aside.
Cut the potatoes into chunks and pass them through a vegetable mill.
Pass the squash through the mill as well.
Add just enough spelt flour to give the dough consistency, about 1 1/2 cups. It needs to be supple without being too sticky.
Roll the dough into inch-thick ropes.
Cut the rope into small chunks.
Roll each chunk off the edge of a fork to create grooves on one side and a hole in the other side.
As you are shaping the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Add the gnocchi in small batches and remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon when they rise to the top. Place them in a deep baking dish and keep them in a 250 degree oven to stay warm if desired.
When all the gnocchi are cooked, spoon pesto over them, serve and savor this delicious time of year.
In a food processor, mix:
½ cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons almonds, sunflower seeds or pine nuts
2 teaspoons salt
½ Tablespoon lemon juice
Parmesan cheese to taste – about 2 Tablespoons (if desired)
Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes.
Turn the off processor, add enough basil to fill the bowl, and blend at lowest speed, stopping occasionally to tamp basil down into blades and add more as needed.
While blending, mixture may become too thick with basil leaves. If so, pour additional olive oil in a small stream through the opening of the food processor while it is blending.
Taste for salt and enjoy!
If you are making a large batch, place in small mason jars, label and freeze for winter use.
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