Homemade pasta on St. Patrick’s Day? At first, I thought it almost blasphemous and considered posting this recipe on another day. You see, where I come from, folks take their ethnic heritage very seriously. To my family and friends who fall into this category and are reading this post, please forgive my transgression.
I grew up in a very small, old, coal-mining town in Northeastern Pennsylvania–near the city of Scranton (for those who watch “The Office”) and not too far from Philadelphia. The area has a distinct brand of old-fashioned charm. The people are warm and friendly. And some believe very strongly in staying close to their roots–so much so that, in the main square of the town where I grew up, there flies an Italian flag next to the American flag because most inhabitants are of Italian descent. My father’s family included.
And you know how Italians feel about their food. My Italian grandmother was the first person who tried teaching me how to cook. (Ironically, she was also the first person to give me wine, sneaking me sips at holiday dinners when my mother wasn’t looking–and sometimes even when she was. A fearless woman, to be sure.) When I was a child, I did not understand why my grandmother always wanted to be in the kitchen. I couldn’t relate to her passion for food. What I did know was how delicious her meals were. Even though my grandmother passed away seven years ago, I still say (and probably always will say) that her scratch-made food was the best food I’ve ever eaten.
So, on this St. Patrick’s Day, when I was deliberating over what to conjure up for dinner, and pasta came to mind, I chuckled to myself. My nana would have been so proud. (I can assure you that neither shepherd’s pie nor corned beef and cabbage ever passed through her lips.) And she would have been over-the-moon-excited that I decided to make it myself. Gnocchi. From scratch.
Of course, my version is gluten-free, and I added veggies where my grandma would have added meat. But what really matters is that my pillowy little homemade gnocchi turned out to be delicious! As did the thyme-lemon butter sauce I drizzled over them.
You can certainly prepare this dish with any veggies you like. To make it even more substantial and add some extra protein, I recommend adding chickpeas, to serve.
Gnocchi with Roasted Butternut Squash, Mushrooms, and Asparagus in a Thyme-Lemon Butter Sauce
2 medium-large russet potatoes
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sorghum flour/tapioca starch blend (Depending on the size of your potatoes, you may need a little more or less than 1/2 cup flour. I mixed 1/4 cup sorghum flour and 1/2 cup tapioca starch together in a small bowl and measured my 1/2 cup portion for the gnocchi from there. I reserved the remainder for dusting my cutting board.)
2 cups cubed butternut squash
6 asparagus spears, ends trimmed, cut into thirds
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms (I used cremini.)
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Thyme-Lemon Butter Sauce
2 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp minced shallot
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
lemon zest, for serving
Preheat oven to 400, and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. Poke holes in potatoes with a fork, and roast for 40-45 min., or until tender. Let cool for 25-30 min.
Peel potatoes. In a large mixing bowl, mash potato flesh, salt, and olive oil together with a fork. Be careful not to over-mix. The potatoes should still be a little chunky–not smooth like mashed potatoes. Add the flour blend, and work the mixture into a dough using your hands. The dough will appear thick, dry, and smooth.
Roll the dough into ropes using the palms of your hands. Dust your cutting board with flour, and cut the ropes into 1/2-3/4-inch dumplings.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil dumplings in small batches–no more than 12-15 at once. After 1-2 min., the dumplings will begin to float. This means they are finished cooking. Remove them from the water promptly using a slotted spoon. Place the gnocchi on a flat dish so they are not stacked on top of one another.
On a parchment-lined sheet, season squash, asparagus, and mushrooms with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil, and mix. Roast for 20-25 min.
Melt vegan butter in a small saucepan. Add garlic and shallot, and sautee for 2 min. Add thyme, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2-3 min.
Pour sauce over vegetables and gnocchi, and sprinkle with lemon zest to serve.