Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ Sage Pesto

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It is funny how the mind works. People often ask me “how do you come up with your recipes?” or “what inspires you most?” and those questions are never easily answered. I always say that it depends; whether it be a recent dining experience, a magazine article in the latest Bon Appetit, or a recipe that I once spotted on another blog, there is really no “one place” that the inspiration comes from. Sometimes, it happens from one single ingredient that I mull over in my brain until I think of all it’s possibilities for combinations. Recently, at our favorite wine bar, Kris and I had ordered the sweet potato fries that were topped with this incredible cheese; called Ekte Geitost. It is a Norwegian goat’s milk cheese that is heated until the sugars in the milk begin to caramelize (which gives it it’s signature brown color). This cheese is seriously heavenly. It’s a mild cheese that tastes sweet of caramel and almost has a nutty and buttery finish. It is melts incredibly and is super smooth. I honestly couldn’t get enough, and there was no way we were leaving without taking some home. We bought a small block and the wheels in my head began to turn.

I have been wanting to make pasta from scratch for quite a while, but the task always seems pretty daunting to me. I didn’t grow up with an Italian grandmother or in the heart of New York where I could witness the magic of homemade noodles. Shoot, the closest thing I have to Italy is Giada de Laurentiis. I have never met her but she is someone who inspires me whenever I watch her show on the Food Network. I once saw her make a sweet potato gnocchi and I thought “now, that seems like something I can do”.  Gnocchi do not take much time nor a whole bunch of utensils and equipment. They seemed pretty straightforward so I decided to give them a try and I was happily surprised with the outcome. The little pillows are soft yet al dente and have so much flavor. I decided to pair them with a healthy pesto to lighten them up a bit (I didn’t want a buttery cream sauce that I thought would make them too rich). Of course, I was saving the richness for the Geitost cheese. The gnocchi were perfect with just a few shavings of the cheese and I was so happy with the finished product. I definitely recommend that you try this cheese at some point and hopefully use it in this dish, because it is so worth it! 

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Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ Sage Pesto

Serves 4


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Prep Time
40 min

Cook Time
18 min

Total Time
1 hr

Prep Time
40 min

Cook Time
18 min

Total Time
1 hr

For the Sage Pesto
  1. 1.5 cups spinach, packed (the most spinach you can get to fit in the cups)
  2. 2 TBSP fresh sage leaves, packed
  3. 1 TBSP fresh cilantro, packed
  4. 2 garlic cloves
  5. 1 lemon, juice and zest
  6. 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  7. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  8. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  9. heaping 1/4 cup pistachio nut meats
  10. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Pumpkin/Sweet Potato Gnocchi
  1. 1 small sweet potato
  2. 1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
  3. 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta* (see note)
  4. 1 tsp sea salt
  5. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 1/2 tsp pepper
  7. 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  8. 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  9. Freshly shaved Ekte Geitost for garnish* (see note)
For the Sage Pesto
  1. Add all the ingredients into the food processor except the olive oil and pulse three times. Then, while the motor is running, add in the olive oil through the feed tube of the processor until everything is combined well. Set the pesto aside (there will be leftover pesto and I do not consider this a problem).
For the Pumpkin/Sweet Potato Gnocchi
  1. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a small baking sheet with foil and place the sweet potato on the foil. Poke a few holes in the potato with a fork and then bake for about 50 minutes until the potato is tender and fully cooked. Cut in half and let cool (It is important to let the sweet potato fully cool so that there is no more steam coming from the potato or else it will make the dough very wet). Scoop out the inside flesh of the potato and measure 1/2 cup before adding it into a large bowl. Add the pumpkin puree, ricotta cheese, salt, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg and blend until it is all mixed well.
  2. Using 1/2 cup of flour at a time, slowly mix in the flour with a spatula. Once you have added about 1 cup of flour, start using your hands to kneed the dough. Add the other 1/2 cup of flour and form the dough into a round disc. Lightly flour a surface and cut the dough in half, and then each half into thirds. Roll out each segment into a long rope (about an inch wide). Cut the rope into small 1-inch pieces (the gnocchi puff up a lot when cooking so if you want them smaller cut them into half-inch slices). Roll the gnocchi pieces over the tines of an upside-down fork to create the little grooves (this helps the pesto sauce stick to the gnocchi, but can be skipped if you are short on time).
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the gnocchi in 3 batches and cook until tender but still al dente (6 minutes per batch; taste and make sure the “raw flour” taste is cooked out). Drain the gnocchi using a slotted spoon and put into a bowl (tent the bowl with foil to keep the gnocchi warm while you are finishing the other batches). Add about half of the pesto to all the gnocchi and toss to combine. Serve immediately with freshly shaved Ekte Geitost. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. I highly recommend using the whole milk ricotta as opposed to skim milk ricotta. It is such a small amount in the batter (so you really aren’t sacrificing your waistline too much) and the creaminess adds a lot of flavor.
  2. Ekte Geitost is an incredible Norwegian caramelized goat cheese I found at our local wine shop. If you can’t find it use freshly shaved parmesan or pecorino.
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

French Onion Soup

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There are some things that take constant attention and patience to accomplish. There are other things that happen quickly, right before your eyes, and take hardly any effort. I feel that French onion soup is a combination of both statements. It is something that takes time but can be made from the simplest ingredients and the finished product is remarkable in taste and to the eye. It is looks fancy but isn’t meticulous like one would think. It fills the kitchen with this gourmet smell of caramelized onions and simmering broth which makes me feel all warm and happy inside. French onion soup is something my mother and I would make often when I was in high school. It was one of my favorite things to make as a novice cook because of the fact that it was so simple yet had just enough instructions to keep me focused on the task at hand and would never bore me. Today, I decided to change up some of the ingredients to fit a healthier lifestyle and experimented with some alternative flavors, and boy let me tell you, I am never going back to the old recipe. This soup is incredible. Possibly one of the most favorite things I have made yet and shared with you on this blog…seriously. There are a few things that I do want you to know before you bust out the giant pot; the soup takes some time (about 1.5 hours) and needs to be watched carefully at certain points during the cooking process. Caramelizing onions is one of the most flavorful ways to enhance any dish without adding any extra ingredients, but they can burn quickly if you do not keep a constant eye on them. Browning is easy (and shouldn’t frighten you) just be sure to stay focused (don’t let instagram/tv/your husband distract you!). I really hope that you share this with your friends or family because it makes a large pot and can serve up to 6 people. Happy soup making friends! Xo. 

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French Onion Soup

Serves 6


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Prep Time
10 min

Prep Time
10 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 large organic yellow onion, sliced thin
  2. 2 small organic sweet onions, sliced thin
  3. 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  4. 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  5. sea salt and black pepper
  6. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 1/2 cup of a dry red wine (you can use a dry white wine if that is all you have)
  8. 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  9. 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  10. A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  11. 2 quarts of broth (I used Trader Joe’s Miso Ginger Broth)** see note
  12. 1 sprig of fresh thyme, plus more for optional garnishing
  13. 2 bay leaves
  14. 12 slices of baguette, toasted (I toasted mine dry in a toaster oven)
  15. 8 oz shredded Gruyere & Swiss (Trader Joe’s has this already done in a bag!)
Instructions
  1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onions and 1/2 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and toss the onions so they are all coated in the butter and oil. Turn the heat to low and cover with a lid and let simmer for 15 minutes without opening the lid so that they can steam. Once the 15 minutes is up, take the lid off, and turn the heat back to medium.
  2. This is where you must pay attention and stand near the pot for the rest of the caramelization process. With a wooden spoon, stir the onions frequently (every couple minutes) for the next 30 minutes. Once they begin to brown and caramelize (about 15 minutes in), start scraping all those little brown bits off the bottom of the pot with the wooden spoon. The brown bits are flavor and you want them off the bottom of the pan.
  3. Once the onions looked browned and 30 minutes has passed, add the red wine, garlic, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and the Worcestershire. Cook for five minutes so that it can reduce. Add the broth, thyme, and bay leaves. Taste and season with salt and pepper (I added a tiny bit more of both). Bring the pot to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid partially (you want some steam to escape so that it can all reduce. Let simmer for the next 30 minutes (you do not need to watch the pot anymore, yay!).
  4. Preheat the broiler on high and move one oven rack to the top shelf. Line a baking sheet with foil. Ladle the onion soup into ovenproof bowls (or ramekins) and place onto the baking sheet. Top each bowl with two slices of toasted baguette and sprinkle the cheese right on the toasts. Place the baking sheet into the oven and broil until the cheese is browned, melted, and bubbly!
  5. Garnish with a small sprig of fresh thyme, serve immediately, and enjoy!
Notes
  1. Traditionally, French Onion Soup is made with beef broth which you may totally use if that is your liking. I like the Miso Ginger Broth from Trader Joe’s because it is vegan and full of so much flavor!
  2. You can always make one bowl at a time if you like too! Place the soup into an airtight container and store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat the soup and then place under the broiler with toasted baguette and cheese anytime!
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/