We went to the garden on Sunday – for about half an hour. It was sunny but very cold and since the soil is still completely frozen, there was little to do but walk around a bit and discuss some plans for this season. This time last year, I had my broad beans planted and was picking varied salads from the garden and harvesting the first blanched rhubarb. This year’s ‘spring’ is very different though and it seems to be the same way for many of you.
Which is why we quickly headed back home and I spend most of the day baking. Our kitchen is the coldest room in the house so my strategy in this weather is to have the oven on as much as possible, making the kitchen a little more hospitable.
This weekend, I decided to bake our last butternut squash (in case you thought we grow way too many winter squash, I assure you we eat them all!). After baking it for about 50 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius (400F), I scraped out the flesh and mashed it with a fork. First, I used the puree to bake a simple butternut squash cake (family’s favourite), then pumpkin cinnamon rolls and lastly I made a double amount of the butternut squash ricotta gnocchi from the archives.
For dinner, I baked the gnocchi in tomato sauce because more oven time! Gnocchi are very much a comfort food, but even more so if baked in tomato sauce with lots of mozzarella. The recipe is very simple and quick, especially if you were to substitute store-bought gnocchi. I made it that way before and it was delicious too. Any leftovers make a cosy lunch next day.
Baked gnocchi in tomato sauce
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
700 ml (3 cups) passata di pomodoro (sieved tomatoes)
1 tbsp roughly chopped rosemary (you can substitute basil)
Salt , pepper
500 -600 g gnocchi, homemade or store-bought
3 balls of mozzarella
A handful of grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 F).
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion. Sautee for about 5 minutes, then add the passata and rosemary and season with salt. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, then check the seasoning. Meanwhile boil the gnocchi.
Stir the gnocchi into the sauce, add chunks of mozzarella and sprinkle the grated parmesan on top. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is deliciously melted.