As the Indian summer finally wanes, I am finding myself drawn towards warming, vitamin-enriched greens. Last night’s dinner was a broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage tofu stir-fry, and here’s today’s lunch, if you fancy some green goodness yourself…
Prepare the Pesto
Ingredients (approximate quantities):
- 1 cup basil
- 1/2 cup chopped kale
- 2 tbsp Parmesan (or veggie/vegan equivalent)
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 a ripe avocado
- a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- twist of salt and pinch of pepper
- 4-6 tbsp olive oil
Whizz ingredients in a blender, smoothie maker or food-processor to make a fairly smooth green paste. Preferably do this a few hours before use (or even the day before) to allow the flavours to mix and mellow.
Get going with the Gnocchi
Bake 1 medium sweet potato (around 200g). (I cut time by doing this in the microwave, but the potato did come about a bit stringy and overcooked.) Leave until it is cool enough to handle then place in a bowl, remove the skin and break up the flesh with a fork. Sift in 45g (3tbsp) strong brown flour. Add 1 egg yolk, a twist of black pepper and a small pinch of salt and mix lightly by hand until it forms a ball of dough. (I had to add a splash of water to achieve this – probably due to the fact the potato had dried out in the microwave.) Roll into a long thin sausage and use a sharp knife to cut it into bite-size pieces. Press down lightly on each piece with the prongs of a fork (this will give the gnocchi more texture so that it takes on more sauce). Boil in plenty of salted water for 2-3 minutes (when they bob to the surface, they’re done). Drain.
Stir-fry some veggie/vegan chicken-style pieces in a frying pan or wok (I used VegiDeli which are an excellent source of vegan protein) before adding a few generous spoonfuls of the pesto to heat through. Add the gnocchi to the pan and stir until they too are coated in the pesto. I served mine on a bed of lightly stir-fried kale and sprinkled with some whole pine nuts.
I used sweet potato with white flesh – as this was what I had in the cupboard – but the orange variety would definitely provide a more eye-pleasing and photogenic colour contrast. Next time, I will roast the sweet potato in the oven, rather than cheating with the microwave short-cut. This turned out fine today but I imagine that this extra effort would be more likely to produce the little fluffy pillows of joy that the best-made gnocchi can be.