by Charlotte van Praagh, 10th November 2021
Chilly autumn evenings cry out for comfort food, and this scrumptious yet quick-to-make gnocchi, leek and butternut bake fits the bill perfectly
As autumn turns into winter, eating fresh, seasonal food gets a little tougher as fewer British-grown fruit and vegetables are available. That’s when the humble leek comes into its own. At its best through the colder months, from November until March, this underrated veg is abundant and versatile, bringing taste and texture to an array of dishes.
The national emblem of Wales, leeks have been lauded by the Romans, are said to possess mystical powers and were worn by the Welsh into battle. Today they’re a powerful weapon in any chef’s arsenal as they can be baked, braised or roasted, chopped and lightly stir-fried to add bite to a recipe or slow-cooked to provide a fantastic foundation to a smorgasbord of sauces, soups and stews.
Why not try this quick and easy gnocchi bake which combines leeks with cheese, herbs and butternut squash for a comforting taste of the season?
GNOCCHI, LEEK & BUTTERNUT BAKE (serves 2)
½ tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp organic butter (or vegan alternative)
A pinch of parmesan (or vegan alternative)
½ butternut squash, diced
1 leek, diced
3 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp dried parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/. Chop the butternut squash and leek into 3cm thick pieces, add to a roasting tray with the olive oil, chopped sage leaves, salt and pepper. Toss together then roast for 35 minutes.
2. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add a little salt and the gnocchi and simmer for 3 minutes or until the gnocchi floats to the surface.
3. Drain off the gnocchi leaving a ladleful of water in the pot (around 250ml) and put the cooked gnocchi in a bowl to the side.
4. Add the butter, dijon mustard, garlic powder and flour to the saucepan and whisk together with the hot water until smooth. Add the gnocchi and stir together gently.
5. Once the leek and butternut is roasted, add the gnocchi and sauce to the baking dish and stir together. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle over the sunflower seeds and dried parsley then return to the oven for around 10 minutes.
6. Stir well and then serve, with a little more grated parmesan and black pepper, if you like.
Recipe and photography courtesy of British Leeks. www.britishleeks.co.uk