Cooking is such a treat for the senses. Not only taste and smell, but also the texture, patterns and colours can be a real joy. That is why beetroot is a firm favourite of mine to cook with. I adore its rich pinky red colour and how it can make a dish look so much more dramatic. Here I was inspired by the eastern european flavours of beetroot, cabbage and caraway in a gnocchi bake that, for me is comfort food for the eyes and stomach. It feels warming and indulgent but is also packed with vegetables and low in fat. Making your own gnocchi is much easier than you’d expect, and although they may be a bit lumpier and more mishapen than the shop bought variety they are full of flavour and allow you far more creativity with the combination of vegetables in the gnocchi.
Gnocchi with beetroot and caraway sauce
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes preparation (30 -40 minutes if you make your own gnocchi), 20-30 minutes cooking on the night
Dietary info: vegan (if you use the gnocchi recipe here, if not check whether the gnocchi are vegan)
- 1 packet gnocchi (about 350g), or see gnocchi recipe below
- 4-6 leaves of savoy cabbage, sliced
- 2 onions, chopped
- ½ tsp sugar or sweetener such as Stevia
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 beetroot, chopped
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp mild chilli powder (I used ancho chilli)
- Juice and zest of 1 small orange
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Put the onions in a pan with the sugar / sweetener and salt and enough water to cover and simmer them until they are just starting to soften.
- Stir in the beetroot, spices and orange zest and continue simmering until the beetroot is also soft, stirring occasionally and adding more water if it starts drying out.
- Blend the onion and beetroot mixture to smooth sauce in a liquidiser, adding water to make it a thick but pourable consistency.
- Season with the orange and lemon juice and salt if wanted.
- Steam or microwave the savoy cabbage until just tender (7-9 minutes).
- Boil the gnocchi (or bake if using homemade – see below) according to the packet instructions, and drain.
- Mix the gnocchi and cabbage with enough sauce to coat (maybe 4-6 tbsp) in an ovenproof dish and bake at 160C fan for 20-30 minutes until the top is starting or get a little bit crispy. Serve with lemon juice, the remaining sauce and salad.
A few tips to prep ahead :
- The sauce can be made in advance and kept for ~6 days in the fridge.
- The gnocchi and cabbage can be cooked, and the bake assembled and kept in the fridge for a few day.
- Then you just need put the bake straight into the oven and heat through the sauce (~3 minutes in a saucepan or microwave) on the night.
Some tasty little twists…
I used homemade wholemeal potato and onion gnocchi for this recipe (very similar to my “squacchi” recipe but replacing the squash with potato and onion), which I find tastier and a bit lighter than the shop bought all potato variety.
However, if you want to take advantage of the lovely beetroot colour even more then you can use my recipe for “squacchi” and / or add in ~200g butternut or queen squash, diced into bite size pieces, steamed for about 5 minutes until just starting to soften and roasted at 160C fan for 20-30 minutes until starting to caramelize. The combination of the reddish pink beetroot and golden orange squash makes me think of a glorious sunset.
Potato and onion gnocchi
This recipe makes double or triple quantities depending on how many people you’re feeding, but it freezes really well and goes with lots of sauces so I like to make a large batch.
- 425g onions, diced
- 425g potatoes, washed and chopped (no need to peel)
- 500g wholemeal flour, or 250g wholemeal and 250g spelt
- 1-2 tsp salt
- seasoning optional e.g. 2 tsp ground paprika, 2 tsp garlic powder, and/or 1 tsp caraway seeds
- Steam or boil the potatoes until soft (a fork should go in easily), and drain if boiling rather than steaming (about 10 minutes).
- Cook the onion in a covered saucepan in a little water until soft and the water has mostly evaporated (also about 10 minutes).
- Mash the poato and onion together (you can do this in a food processor) until smooth (though a few pieces of onion are fine) and mix with the flour, salt and seasoning. I find the easiest way to do this is in a food processor in two batches.
- Take fist sized balls of the dough and roll them into long cylinders about 1.5-2cm across, using a bit of flour on your hands and surface of the dough is too sticky.
- Slightly flatten the cyclinders with a fork and cut into 1.5-2 cm lengths, putting the squacchi on baking parchment or clean tea towels to dry.
- Divide the gnocchi into 2-3 portions (3 portions probably feed 3 people per portion, 2 portions probably feed 4 people per portion) and freeze whatever you don’t want to use that week. To freeze, layer the squacchi on baking parchment to stop the sticking together before you put them in a box for freezer bag.
- The gnocchi will probably be a bit soft to boil like normal gnocchi so spread them on a non-stick, or lined, baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, until firm on the outside but not dried out.