food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

Yesterday was Mothers’ Day in the UK – or Mothering Sunday, if you prefer not to pander to the Hallmark hijacking of celebrations. Although Andrew and Rachel were away on the train to Newcastle for the football – with my blessing I should add – I managed to have a special day with Andrew’s mum Ann, and great-aunt Trudy. We had thought we would splash out on a slap-up restaurant lunch, or indulge in a fancy afternoon tea at one of the hotels, but I just couldn’t bring myself to book a table. Although I like being waited on hand and foot as much as anyone else, what I wanted – and what I knew Ann wanted too –  was to chill out with some nice food, a bottle of something bubbly and just relax. For us going out to a restaurant  is a treat and not a weekly occurrence, but sometimes you just want to take your time, not worry about getting crumbs on your face and, for us, watch the hens take sun baths in the hard-baked ground. Simple pleasures. 

So, I made us an afternoon tea. A proper girly afternoon tea with Prosecco (courtesy of Andrew) and a giant pot of Earl Grey tea. We munched on savoury beetroot and cheese scones; plain scones with clotted cream and blackcurrant jam (just the stuff from Lidl – best non-homemade jam); fruit tartlets filled with creme patisserie and topped with fresh fruit and orange blossom honey; various miniature filled rolls; and – my favourite – Peter’s Yard crispbreads topped with lemony creme fraiche, flaked Salar flaky smoked salmon, rocket leaves, toasted pumpkin seeds and a grinding of my cardamom-coriander pepper blend. I wish I had taken proper pictures as it did look quite a pretty spread. Even considering my lack of food styling ability. But what I was most pleased about was the cake. I will post it next time. But, to give you a hint, it has green tea, passionfruit and lime as flavourings. And it is gluten and dairy free, too. I hope you are suitably intrigued and not just bemused.

The hens were certainly amusing but I did lay on more refined entertainment. To complete the girly day we stretched out our full tums in front of a screening of the gorgeously-shot food-porn movie, Chocolat. It did seem a bit ironic/perverse watching this sumptuous film in the absence of chocolate, but  I doubt my humble efforts would’ve stacked up against the carnally calorific offerings of Ms Binoche. And I can’t quite rock a shoulder-baring taffeta dress. However, the sigh-inducing sight of a young Johnny Depp made up for our lack of chocolate.

It is a rare occasion when I lay on a feast like the Mothering Sunday tea – honest. It is just too tempting to stuff yourself silly with a cornucopia of tiny sandwiches and itty bitty cakes, in the erroneous view that it’s not a proper meal so it doesn’t really count (guilty as charged, m’lud).

And so I breeze from afternoon tea with lashings of sugar and fat (horror!) to Monday supper with lashings of greens. No, this isn’t a penitence meal – it’s far, far too tasty to be a punishment – but it serves as a marker for the week to come. Greens, greens and more greens.

Right now we seem to be have an abundance of choice in the greens department. Most of the winter stuff is still available, and the new seasons’ greens are coming thick and fast. I was at Marks & Spencer picking up a few bits for Sunday’s gathering when I spied something unknown to me in the produce aisle: little frilly purple and green ‘flower sprouts’. These dinky attractive greens are a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts; very mild and deeply nutritious. I only just found out the name of this 2010 breed of green this very moment, having chucked away the all-important wrapping. So thank you to Tracey at the Craigleith M&S for understanding my confused phone ramblings so politely and furnishing me with the name. I don’t know how long these cuties will be in the store but get them if you can. Have you bought them before? What did you do with them?

I normally make today’s recipe with either the generic sounding spring greens, or darkest kale so use what is most local and available to you. As for the butternut squash, I am afraid it is a food air-mile criminal this time of year, as is sweet potato. But ‘orange stuff’ isn’t happening for us just yet so I think I can justify either on account of their beta-carotene, and the fact that imports are still tasty. You could make it with parsnips but the nutrition and taste will differ to the beta carotene-replete squash and sweet potato.

What are your favourite greens, and how do you normally prepare them? If you are needing more inspiration I have a number of ‘green’ recipes here on foodtoglow. Here’s a sample: Trio of Kale Recipes, this Sweet Potato and Kale tart, a Pancetta and Bitter Greens Tart, some Kitchen-sink Minestrone with Spring Green Pesto Focaccia. And the purple-sprouting broccoli pasta dish – over to the right on the sidebar. And lastly, I have put this into the greenslove bloghop, linking it to the delightful Mis Pensamientos blog. Please check out Junia and all the other greenslove bloghoppers. Also appearing in Fabulicious Foods’ Family Friendly Fridays Recipe Round-up. Check out the link for more family cooking inspiration.

Greens and Squash Gnocchi with Chili and Roquefort

This week in March, 2011: Beetroot Zinger Juice

This one pot meal, adapted from one on, is a huge family favourite. Despite my propensity to make different meals nearly every day, I seem to make this carotene-packed dish once every couple of weeks, altering it to whatever’s seasonal, or at least not too exotic. If Andrew had his way it would feature once a week. For us it has a great balance of sweet, slightly bitter, savoury and squidginess that make a healthy comfort food meal. Dotted with tiny nuggets of sharp and salty Roquefort – more as a sock-it-to-me garnish, this vegetarian dish hits all the right flavour notes.  You can make this without the gnocchi and serve it is a side dish, but I would reduce the liquid to 200 ml and stir in 2 teaspoons of cornflour or arrowroot before adding the liquid, to thicken. 

Note on gnocchi: Most brands have wheat flour in them, but not all. Trawling around on the Internet I found a number of gluten free brands. But if you’d like to make your own, this delicate ricotta gnocchi from the Zuni Cookbook, by way of thedaringkitchen, looks amazing. For something easier – or at least more time-friendly, try this potato-based recipe from gluten-freerecipebox. One of these days I will make my own, especially if we want to have it more plainly dressed. 

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced to smallish pieces –  or 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 300g)
1 leek or small onion, chopped (about 75g)
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced and minced
1 heaped tbsp chopped fresh sage, plus extra for garnishing
1/4 tsp red chilli/pepper flakes (optional), plus extra for garnishing
400 ml light vegetable stock or water
About 200g trimmed and chopped kale, spring greens or chard
1 x 500g pack of potato gnocchi (Dell’Ugo and DeCecco brands are nice)
50g Roquefort cheese, or grated grana padano cheese (optional)

Heat the oil a large sauté pan over a medium heat – I use a wok. Add in the diced butternut squash or sweet potato and sauté until soft and slightly tinged – about five minutes. Add in the leek or onion, garlic, sage, pepper flakes if using and sauté for a further five minutes, until the leek and garlic soften.

Now pour in the stock or water, and add in the shopped greens, stirring to coat. Pop on a lid or cover with foil and let the greens start to wilt. Add in the gnocchi, stirring to mix, and cook with a lid or foil for a further five minutes. Uncover the dish and  crumble in the Roquefort cheese or grate in the grana padano cheese. Pop under a hot grill/broiler if you like (we don’t bother) or  allow the heat of the dish to melt the cheese into gooey unctuousness. Serve this slurpy veg and pasta dish immediately, with extra chilli flakes and sage, as desired. By the way, this reheats very well but I have not tried freezing it.   Serves 4-6 (easily halves/doubles)

19 thoughts on “Greenslove: Greens and Squash Gnocchi with Chili and Roquefort

  1. Hi there!

    Thanks so much for mentioning (no hyphen)! The gnocchi recipe is actually rice-based. I’ve never made it, but my father’s neighbor supplies me with some often. I’ve watched her make it, and it is very easy! Great blog you have here! Keep up the great work!

    Carla Spacher

    1. Thank you Carla- you too 😀 it looks straight forward do I should take the time to make it someday.

  2. Thank you, Kellie. I’ve been wracking my Meatless Monday brain to no avail. I realized I have some sweet potatoes I need to use up. I think I’ll make a SP gnocchi using whole wheat flour, something that’s been rattling around in my head for a while. You gave me just the push I needed.

    1. Nice to be of some use! Hope you like it – however you make it 😀

  3. I’m really enjoying your whole blog page as it is really dynamic and always changing. My fav section is currently the ‘drink of the week’ because there is always time to make a quick juice/smoothie and I always feel so fired up after after the vitamin blast, so thank you!

    1. Thanks Miss Niki – you are now my official drinks tester 😀 I should send them through first for your blessing. I may ask Rachel to suggest a song to play while cooking or eating. No One Direction though!

  4. This looks great! Think I’ve found tomorrow night’s dinner. Appreciate the hint for those of us eating gluten-free….

    1. Thanks Kelli 😀 Did you get my email? You won my cookbook giveaway and I need your address. Get in touch!!!

      1. I did get your e-mail and replied. How exciting! My current address is 2813 Putnam St, Los Angeles, CA 90039. I’ll be here for another 5 weeks…..

        P.S. 2/3 kids loved the gnocchi… 🙂

      2. Yay for the gnocchi! And thanks for address. I’ll zap it in the post tomorrow. I hope you enjoy using it – it’s a keeper.

      3. Thanks, Kellie. Take care.

  5. Jen says:

    this looks amazing…I want some!



  6. I’m definitely excited about the green tea passionfruit & lime cake, they are my 3 favourite things! My fave greens recipe is Chargrilled Broccoli with Chilli Garlic & Soy, it’s been a while actually! And at the moment I’m all about the rocket, my organic veg box this week had a big bunch of fat peppery rocket, so it’s featuring heavily on the menu this week. Your Mothering Sunday sounds perfect btw…

    1. Ooh, I love chargrilled broccoli with Asians bits too! I could eat that as the whole meal 😀 And as for rocket I chuck it in almost anything that’s not sweet. You & I have very similar palates, judging from your blog posts. Savoury over sweet – unless there’s a homemade cake on offer… Posting the passion fruit cake today

  7. thespicyrd says:

    Such a great recipe for a gnocchi lover like me, and so glad you linked it up to #greenslove! Your Mothering Tea sounds delightful. I will be celebrating Mother’s Day in May at a horse camp with my daughter and my Girl Scout troop 🙂

    1. Sounds more healthy than a Scottish afternoon tea. Have fun. I like looking at horses but they always sense my innate fear!

  8. Oh my goodness, this looks like an amazing recipe, I LOVE gnocchi and this sounds like such a flavourful combo. Thanks for link up to Family Friendly Fridays! x

  9. Okay yes you are not kidding .This recipe looks so beautiful and delicious. Gnocchi makes me think of being in high school and it being one of my favorite meals that I could never pronunce! Now that I am a little older and wiser… (really?) I can pronounce it a little more successfully and it’s still a fave.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.