main dish

collard quiche with sweet potato crust

collard quicheWait! Come back! I know you’re about to click away. You saw the word “collard,” and it scared you. Maybe it brought back childhood memories of bitter, boiled leaves heaped in a sickening, faded green, shoved to the edge of your plate. Or maybe, like me, that’s what came to your mind, despite having never actually tasted that dreaded southern excuse for a vegetable.

Let me assure you: your fear is unfounded. Collards are like kale or swiss chard or spinach – perfectly palatable and delicious if you cook them right. If you boil them, not so much.

sweet potato quiche crustI doubt I would’ve ever escaped my sad ignorance of the versatility of collards, had I not asked Dad to pick up some swiss chard for me at the store. Ever absent-minded shopper that he is, he triumphantly presented me with a giant bundle of collards. So, I used them instead of swiss chard in the tart I was making. And you know what? They tasted just fine. No bitterness. No stringiness. Nothing. Deeeelicous! In fact, I’d say they were better than spinach, which tends to be mushy, and superior to kale, which can be a bit tough.

sweet potato crust

Indeed, I started eating sautéed collards as part my Whole30 breakfasts. Then I expanded to mustard greens and turnip greens. I’ve been having my own little renaissance of greens in the past several weeks.collard quiche with sweet potato crust

Naturally, quiche was the next step. As usually happens with recipes, I’d had an idea for one component floating around in my mind for a while: grated sweet potato crust. Mom makes quiche with shredded white potato for a crust sometimes when she doesn’t feel like dealing with making or eating a proper pie crust. Since sweet potato is the most scrumptious, sweet, versatile of starches, it was clearly an even better choice for a crust. Duh.collard quiche sweet potato

So, armed with my brilliant orange, crisped-edged super-crust, I browned some sweet red onions and earthy cremini mushrooms, mixed them my newly befriended collards, and added some eggs for cohesion. And there it was: one vegetable-packed, Whole30 compliant, dense quiche – with just a hint of rosemary. As I’ve said previously, I never eat quiche for breakfast; it’s a supper food to me. But I gladly ate this for both.collard quiche recipe

Appropriately enough, this is day 30 of my Whole30. It’s been a ride, but mostly an easy one. I made it through the extraction of all of my wisdom teeth, the mild temptation of all the normal food my family ate, and the boredom of the last couple days. But I did it. And I’m happy. My last official meal has been eaten, so now there’s just to wait for…

Tomorrow, tomorrow!
I love you, granola!
You’re only a night awaaaaay!

For now, I’ll have to content myself with sharing this quiche with you people. The directions look complicated, but really I’m just telling you to chop and sauté, chop and sauté.sweet potato crust quiche

Collard Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust

  • 1 ten-ounce sweet potato
  • 1 + 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion
  • 8 oz collards (~6 large leaves)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small package crimini mushrooms (also called “baby bella”)*
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a bit more here and there
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and some more here and there
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (nut milks would probably work, too)*

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Grease a 10-inch* pie pan with 1 tablespoon coconut oil.

Use a cheese grater’s medium-sized plane to shred the sweet potato. Don’t bother peeling it first; just wash it well. You should have about 3 cups of shredded sweet potato. Toss with the olive oil and a few dashes of salt. Press the sweet potato into the greased pie pan to form a crust. Bake for 20 minutes until the sweet potato is soft and slightly browned on the top edges.

While the crust cookies, dice the red onion into 1/4-inch half-moon pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a frying pan and sauté until browned and softened but not mushy.

As the onion browns, cut the tough ribs out of the center of the collard leaves. Slice into 1/2-inch-wide ribbons. Mince the garlic.

When the onions are finished, remove them from the pan and set aside. Add another tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan. Brown half of the minced garlic. Once the garlic is browned, add the collards and sauté until wilted and bright green, with a few dashes of salt. Set aside.

Slice the mushrooms into fourths or fifths. Add the final tablespoon of coconut oil and the rest of the garlic to the pan with the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are softened and browned.

Combine all the vegetables with the salt, pepper, and dried rosemary. Spread evenly in the crust. Whisk eggs and coconut milk together, and pour evenly on top of vegetables, being sure that the mixture gets distributed evenly. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until firm. Enjoy warm! Or cold – it’s marvelous leftover!

*Important notes:

  • You’ll have way too much filling and egg if you try to make this in a 8-inch pie pan. If you do, just leave out some of the filling and only beat 4 eggs or so. Eye it.
  • You could probably leave the coconut milk out entirely if you wanted to, but I think it adds a nice sweetness and flavor.
  • Substituting regular button mushrooms for the criminis would work just fine, I think.

thin pizza crust [gluten-free]

IMG_1344

One of the foods I miss most at college is pizza.

IMG_5162

I think I could start a dozen posts with that phrase: “One of the foods I miss most at college . . .” And every it would be true. I just miss food.

IMG_4049

Anyway, pizza. As with most dishes available in the dining hall, I refrain from consuming the pizza at school. Granted, the perfect circles of heat-kissed, unnaturally white crust bubbling with shimmering, pale cheese and creamy red sauce that emerge with astonishing frequency from gas-fired brick pizza ovens are well-presented. Sometimes they look downright alluring. Usually, though, I’m not tempted. I like my pizzas with lots of vegetables or fruits, often in somewhat odd combinations. So, I wait. One meal turns into ten and five days turn into five weeks, and I forget about pizza. And cheese.

IMG_4255

Once I come home and, in my rummaging through our cooking implements, am forced to shove aside our pizza stone several dozen times, I realize how much I have longed for a good piece of pizza. With cheese – any kind of cheese.

IMG_5124

Do you know how hard cheese is to come by on a college campus? Impossible. All that is available is feta crumbles and shredded soft cheeses for salads. Everything else is either a close relative of velveeta or already melted atop some greasy dish I don’t want to eat anyway. I think I’m repeating myself.

IMG_4250

Back at home, I make pizza. I’m one of those thin crust people. Actually, no. I’ll eat any sort of crust, but thin is what I make at home. Of course I don’t use white flour, so for the longest time I used a whole wheat pizza dough recipe that worked just fine. It consistently produced properly stretchy pizza dough sufficient for two pizzas. I used it as a base for several pizzas of  my own with reasonable success. But after a while I became discontent with how soggy the crust tended to become if I spread more than a thin layer of any sort of soupy sauce on it. I wanted a dependably thin and crisp crust. An impermeable crust. An impervious crust. A super crust!

IMG_4055

Pardon the dramatization. Pause for a second here and lower any expectations you might have. I like this crust; it’s good. But it’s really not a super crust. What it is is like eating pizza on a thick, slightly soft cracker. Perhaps that doesn’t sound appealing to you. Try it, though. I bet you’ll like it.

IMG_5126

Plus, it’s way faster than regular pizza dough. Forget proofing and rising and planning ahead. Want to make pizza? Go ahead. Now. You can mix together and roll out this crust in less time than it takes your oven to heat up.

IMG_5127

That it is gluten-free is incidental – a fortuitous bonus.

IMG_5131

Thin Pizza Crust [Gluten-Free]

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup soy flour (or more corn/flax meal or other flour; whatever!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons water

[Makes one average-sized pizza crust.]

Preheat your oven 400°F.

Place pizza stone or sheet in oven to heat. This is key. It’ll help the crust cook both on the top and the bottom and will make it crispy.

Combine all ingredients to make a moist dough with which you can form a ball. Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. Take the pizza stone out of the oven and lay the dough on the stone. The edges of the dough will probably be a bit rough; patch them if you like. Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges, before adding toppings. Bake again for 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted and toppings are heated thoroughly. Enjoy!

[Note about the flour: I’m not gluten intolerant, so sometimes I use some whole wheat flour because I can. But, I always stick to the base of the recipe: the 1/2 cup each of flax meal and cornmeal. That other half a cup of flour could be just about anything, I think.]

I’m trying something new and linking this post to Sunday School Blog Carnival at Butter Believer and Gluten Free Fridays at Vegetarian Mama.

roasted grape and strawberry pizza

I know, I know, it’s not strawberry season anymore. I’m in denial, okay? Don’t worry, though, I’m not so desperate that I would buy fresh, out-of-season strawberries just for pizza. No, no. This pizza is something I made in late May, during our strawberry season.

I haven’t the slightest idea why I never posted it. The poor recipe just sat, forlorn and alone, in limbo in my drafts section. Finally, it will see the light of day!

Of all the pizzas I have ever thrown together for Tuesday evenings – Tuesday being pizza night during the school year due to the minimal preparation required for the dish – this is the one of which I am most proud.

I certainly cannot say that of the photos I took of it, but no matter. Taste is the important part here.

And I think it tastes pretty good.

The concentrated sweetness of the roasted grapes and the flavorful, soft strawberries contrast excellently with the tangy goat cheese and warm spices of the pumpkin sauce. Mmm, yes. This is my favorite pizza.

Roasted Grape and Strawberry Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1-½ cups red seedless grapes
  • 1-½ cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1-½ cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 whole wheat pizza crust
  • 2-½ oz (weight) plain goat cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Toss the grapes and strawberry slices with the olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 40 minutes, until the strawberries are soft, the skins of the grapes have split, and lots of juice has been released.

Combine the pumpkin, sugar, and spices in a small saucepan. Add the juices from the roasted fruit. Bring the pumpkin mixture to a boil over medium heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the pumpkin thickens significantly.

Pre-bake your pizza crust. Spread the crust with the pumpkin sauce, distribute roasted fruit evenly on top, and drop large pinches of the goat cheese over the top. Bake at 450ºF for about 10 minutes, until the goat cheese has softened and the pizza is heated thoroughly. Enjoy!

massaman curry quiche

Quiche is a supper food.

Undeniably partial to sweet breakfasts as I am, it is inconceivable to me that anyone could stomach such a savory and clearly post meridian dish as quiche for breakfast.

I also don’t like eggs. Neither do my brothers, really. That’s why it’s so perfectly logical for us to have 18 layer hens. Duh.

It’s not that I dislike eggs entirely. I just don’t like their taste. Their texture, the concept of consuming them, their color, everything else is fine. But their taste is the same one I get in my mouth when I feel like I’m about to throw up. (Please pardon the disgusting reference, but the facts are the facts.) It’s uncanny. And gross.

Happily for me, though, egg flavor is easily disguisable. Mustard works best. Plus, I love mustard, so it’s a success all around.

Anyway, to compensate for our abnormally eggless breakfasts, we use lots of eggs in other dishes.

Quiche is by far the most effective way to consume mass quantities of eggs, rivaled only by souffle.

And the best part about quiche is that it’s essentially a blank, edible canvass ready to be filled with infinite combinations of tasty morsels.

So, turn a curry into a quiche? Oh yes.

Massaman curry has become one of Mom’s signature dishes lately.  I just made it into a quiche. I love massaman.

Yum.

This quiche colorful, fluffy, slightly sweet, and a bit spicy. And as quiche goes, I flatter myself that it is rather unique.

Massaman Curry Quiche

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • several dashes each of salt and pepper
  • 1 recipe of [whole wheat] pie crust
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 + 1/4 cups coconut milk [low fat or otherwise]
  • 1/2 cup swiss cheese
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons massaman curry paste
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel the sweet potato and cut it into bite-sized pieces, half an inch to an inch wide. Toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes, until soft.

Roll out your crust and place it in a pie pan. Pre-bake the crust for about 10 minutes.

Blend the corn, eggs, coconut milk, and curry paste (2 tablespoons for less spicy; 3 for more spicy) in a food processor until the corn is totally pulverized.

Stir the cheese into the milk and corn mixture, and pour it into the pie crust. Sprinkle the sweet potato chunks and peas (frozen or thawed; it makes no difference) on top of the soupy mixture in the pie pan. Stir the liquid a bit so that some – but not all – of the vegetables will submerge.Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the quiche is firm. Enjoy!

purple sweet potato gnocchi [+ excuses]

I feel like a blogging delinquent. Therefore, in my accordance with my ceaseless – and forever invalid – quest to come up with excuses for everything I fail to accomplish, I shall outline the nominal business that has invaded my life as of late. [Please note that in reality the lack of posts recently stems from nothing else than my own laziness. And lack of inspiration.]

I, along with my dear mother and youngest brother, took a four-day trip to Tennessee to visit Grandma M for Mother’s Day.

Less than a day after our arrival back home, both parental units hopped on a train and left. That is to say, they took an Amtrak to Baltimore for an ADD conference for the entire and extended weekend. Who does that? Trains exist in American? I was envious. And bored. There was no one to talk to. I aimlessly wandered the house reciting melancholy Shakespearian sonnets aloud to myself. [I wish.]

As soon as the parents returned, our house was invaded by five friendly red-heads, who had been abandoned by their own dear mother, who had herself arranged her cunning escape under the guise of “homeschool planning” at a beach house with various other mothers. Yeah right. The freckled bunch stayed for three days, give or take a few hours. We like them.

The very next day, after acquiring some oral (not aural, as on my first trip) antibiotics for an ear infection I somehow contracted from flying to Grandma’s house with a cold, Mother and I stepped foot into our brand new Whole Foods for the very first time! Our town became ten times better in my mind the minute I walked in that door. I always thought I could never live here for the rest of my life. I still do not think I would want to, but with Whole Foods in town and Trader Joe’s coming within a year, I think I would survive. I am in love with that store.

After that, we had my best friend and her family over for supper. Hannah spent the night, of course, so we could stay up until 1am watching the final episode of season two of Sherlock together. I am in love with that show. Watch it. You must.

Over the rest of the weekend the Stanleys came over for lunch, kayaking (yay, Mrs. Stanley!), and animal petting, and we attended a graduation party. They had blueberry cheesecake. It was delicious! And I do not like cheesecake.

Hannah and I spent nearly the entirety of Memorial Day shopping. I needed clothes. I still need clothes, but she was an invaluable asset and I purchased several items. I attempted shopping with Mother the next day, but it just was not the same. All I could find to buy was sweatpants and soccer shorts – comfort clothing; my favorite!

Then, yesterday, it poured for most of the day – the uninteresting side effect of sub-tropical storm Beryl (what kind of name is that?) dragging its decrepit, disorganized rain bands across our part of the sky. Everyone knows that international law requires that nothing can be accomplished during pseudo-hurricane conditions. One must press one’s nose against the nearest window, watch the rain, comment on the puddling – or flooding, as the case may be -, pray the power does not go out for more than an hour or two, and make hourly mad dashes out into the rain to unclog the drains. That is what I did, at least.

So, here I am, typing this blog post after spending the morning at the beach yesterday, writing a bit of this post in the afternoon, and feeling thankful for air conditioning after running at the beach this morning. It is humid out there, people.

All that to say that after a lengthy spell of blogging slothfulness and apathy, I have a recipe about which I am excited to post. And I owe it to Whole Foods, which made it possible.

I keep recipe ideas on sticky notes on my computer. As unromantic, impersonal, and classically 21st century as they may be, my blue notes never get lost in the piles of papers on my desk, and their marker felt font is reliably legible, something I cannot always claim about my handwriting. Several months ago – three at least, maybe even four or five or six; when I was in Peru? – I added purple potato gnocchi – you know, that Italian potato pasta that is supposed to be made by rolling dough across a fork. When I wrote the note to myself, I meant my gnocchi to be made from normal potatoes, not sweet potatoes. I recalled the cute, purple fingerling potatoes we grew with reasonable success last summer. However, Whole Foods changed my plans.

I have been unable to locate normal purple potatoes in our local grocery stores, so I had nearly given up. Then, while my hungry eyes flew gleefully around the wonderfully brilliant and varied produce section of Whole Foods during that fated first trip there, they paused on a sign for purple sweet potatoes. I had never heard of them before; naturally, I bought three.

I think I must have something of a fetish for purple vegetables. I love eggplant. We grew some white ones last year. They were ugly. Why eat a white eggplant when you can have a purple one? I want to grow purple cauliflower and green beans. Why bother with the normal varieties when purple is possible? Who wants red raspberries when black [really purple] raspberries exist? I really must find a purple tomato.

In any case, these purple sweet potatoes were a lovely deep violet hue on their lumpy, veined exterior and an incredible, almost fluorescent purple inside.My fears of a light-purple-almost-unappetizing-grey gnocchi fled the instant I peeled back their skin.  So beautiful! Even the red whole wheat flour I used to make the gnocchi could not contaminate the gorgeous coloring.

Being so pleased with my purple sweet potatoes, one would think that I would treat them well and make them into proper gnocchi. Nope. Rolling gnocchi one by one with a fork is one of the more tedious kitchen tasks I can think of. I take the lazy simplest approach: rolling the dough into long ropes and cutting them into bite-sized pieces. Hey, it gets the pasta to your mouth, and that is all that counts in the end.

The other benefit of cutting the gnocchi instead of rolling it is that it lends to being easily arranged in neat little rows on the counter, which produces what looks like acres of gnocchi and hours of hard work. Really, it takes no more than 15 minutes.

With such a stupendous time savings from cutting the gnocchi, enough time is left to boil them in smaller batches. Why smaller batches? So you do not waste as much milk! I boiled them in milk because [as I told my mother, altering my story until it arrived at the truth] that is what you do/that is what I read online you are supposed to do/that is what I read on one website you are supposed to do/that is what I read on one comment on one website online that you are supposed to do/that is what I read on one comment by one random person on one website online that you are supposed to do. I should have tried some in water to see if it made a difference. Oh well.

A sauce for my fancy milk-boiled gnocchi had to be considered. The logical choice for a sauce for such a dramatically colored and cooked gnocchi was, of course, a (normal) sweet potato sauce; in my mind orange is the opposite of purple. Also, I decided a tomato sauce, besides looking just wrong with the purple pasta, would not go well with the slight sweet potato flavor of the gnocchi, and I just made a pseudo-white sauce last week, so that was also out. Sweet potato sauce? Perfect.

I think the sauce did turn out quite well, if I do say so myself. Perhaps I should have added more milk, though. It might have been a bit stiff.

Regardless, I was extremely happy to have at long last made purple gnocchi. And I am going back to Whole Foods tomorrow for the third time. Wheee!

Purple Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sweet Potato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium purple sweet potatoes, cooked (I microwaved them)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (you may need slightly more or less, depending on the moisture of your potatoes)
  • 1 (normal) sweet potato, cooked (microwaved)
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 2 cups milk (maybe a bit more)

Smash the purple sweet potatoes well. Mix in the egg, salt, and flour to form a playdough-like dough. Divide the dough into four pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about an inch in diameter. Cut into pieces about 1/2 an inch thick.

Saute the onion and garlic in a small sauce pan with olive oil until soft. Place onions and garlic in a food processor. Add the normal sweet potato, sage, and parmesan. Puree.

Bring the milk to a boil in a small sauce pan (same one as the onions, for convenience). Toss the gnocchi – 10 or so pieces at a time – into the milk to cook. They will rise to the top of the milk when they are done. Fish them out with a slotted spoon and place them in a colander to drain fully and cool slightly. Save the cooking milk.

After the gnocchi are cooked, mix 1 cup of the milk into the sweet potato sauce. Serve while everything is still warm. Enjoy!

[Please, someone tell me I am not the only person who thinks Whole Foods is the best thing since whole wheat flour was re-invented?]

[I’m on a brackets, dashes, and parentheses kick. Can you tell?]

our spartan kitchen: grilled asparagus sandwiches

I had planned on making eggplant stacks.

But, alas, Food Lion – the odious grocery store at which I am sometimes forced to shop due to its proximity to our house – failed me. again. I unwittingly purchased a rotten eggplant.

 What is one to do when conventional grocery store produce fails? Turn to reliable, homegrown alternatives instead, of course.

Asparagus, in this case. I love asparagus season. It is like strawberry season for vegetables; the weather is still reasonably nice and cool, just perfect for browsing asparagus beds for spears of just the right height and maturity and strawberry fields for the berries of the deepest hue. Strawberries every day with breakfast and for snack. Asparagus every evening with supper. Life is good.

Speaking of good things, I recently, finally discovered a grocery store tomato larger than a grape tomato with a decent flavor! I know I am a horrible person for purchasing out of season tomatoes – from a grocery store, no less! – but I really cannot live without fresh tomatoes during the entire winter. I just can not do it. Anyways, these cocktail tomatoes are the best thing ever.

In my opinion, asparagus is most tasty cooked and drizzled in citrus juice of some kind. Sauce is unnecessary. Butter is too much. Olive oil does the trick. The point is to leave the asparagus flavor to speak for itself.

 Grill marks make most anything even more appetizing.

Oh, tomatoes. I do love thee.

Cheese, pesto, tomatoes, asparagus, and bread: my favorite foods combined. It could not get much better, unless perhaps some mustard was added. Hmmm.

Grilled Asparagus Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 40 spears asparagus
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 8 slices whole wheat sandwich bread
  • ½ cup pesto
  • 12 slices extra sharp cheddar cheese (just buy Cabot; there is nothing better in the US)
  • 4 whole cocktail tomatoes

Heat grill to medium heat, 350º to 450ºF.

Rinse asparagus and cut off woody, fibrous ends. In a small bowl combine olive oil with a few dashes each of salt and pepper. Using a basting brush, coat the asparagus spears in olive oil.

Place the asparagus on a grilling tray (to keep them from falling through the grill slats) or perpendicular to the slats on the grill. Grill until softened but not limp (or to your texture preference), about 10 minutes, turning halfway through. After removing them from the grill, drizzle the spears with lime juice.

Brush one side of bread slices with olive oil, and toast slightly on grill. Slice the cocktail tomatoes.

To assemble the sandwiches: spread one slice of bread with 2 tablespoons pesto, place 10 spears of asparagus on top of pesto, and top with slices of an entire cocktail tomato and 3 slices of cheese.

Cut sandwich in half and enjoy!

our spartan kitchen: spinach gnocchi with sundried tomato white sauce

I think I should have some claim to making gnocchi; after all, an entire fourth of my blood runs pure Sicilian olive oil. Then again, it is only a fourth.

I decided to put spinach in my gnocchi (which is Italian potato pasta, by the way) simply for aesthetic appeal. I could not taste it in the least, and it did not solve the blah aspect of the gnocchi’s taste. But is gnocchi supposed to have a delicious taste? I think not, but I cannot really remember. Oh well, at least it is pretty.

The sauce ended up pleasing me more. I love tomatoes, and sundried tomatoes condense all the wonderfulness of a tomato’s flavor into a smaller, intensified package. What a deal! Tomatoes are to sundried tomatoes as maple tree sap is to maple syrup, in my mind. The best part about the sundried tomatoes in our freezer is that they are from our garden, so I know what fungicides have been used on them! Ha! If we lived elsewhere, perhaps I could say they were organically grown in the pure soil of our backyard. Alas, tomato fungi and southern accents flourish equally in our humid, pine pollen-filled air, so we are forced to use fungicides and watch a weekly dose of Downton Abbey to stave off the ill effects. My consolation is that I know which chemicals have been used.

After the following excuse, I promise to actually present the recipe to which I keep referring.

I told myself – something I often do with the best, if most futile, of motives – when I started this blog, that it would not become an outlet for nonsense and trivialities of my life, including cooking. But! I have, of course, formulated a convenient excuse for allowing myself to bend my predetermined blogging principles: cooking is part of my gap year! Yeaaah, that’s it! Well, it is. People keep telling me I should be a food journalist “when I grown up.” I rather like that idea. Therefore, since the purpose of this gap year is to aid me in deciding or starting along the road to becoming what I want to be “when I grow up,” cooking – and learning how to cook more effectively, tastily, and healthily – falls into the scope of this blog. Now I have logically justified my actions. That feels better.

Okay. The recipe.

Spinach Gnocchi with Sundried Tomato White Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1-½ cup sundried tomatoes
  • 2 whole large russet potatoes
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole white wheat flour, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 2-½ cups milk
  • ½ cups grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1-½ teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper

Most of the ingredients.

Place the sundried tomatoes in a small bowl and with enough water to cover them. Leave them to soak.

Sometime during microwaving the potatoes, put the frozen spinach in a bowl with some water and microwave it along with the potatoes for a few minutes until it has thawed. Squeeze as much water as you can out of the spinach.

To defend the reputation of our chickens' eggs, I must inform you that the yolk was much, much more orange in reality.

Peel the cooked potatoes and place them in a large bowl along with the egg, spinach, and a few dashes of salt. Use a hand mixer on the lowest setting to the ingredients together until there are no chunks of potatoes left. If tiny potato bits remain, mash the mixture with a fork until they disappear.

On a floured surface, knead the 1 cup of flour into the potato mixture.

Divide the dough into 8 parts and roll each into a rope 8 or so inches long and 3/4 inch in diameter.

The Gnocchi Sea.

Cut the ropes into 1/2-inch segments.

Remove the sundried tomatoes from their soaking water. Using kitchen shears, cut them into small pieces.

In a medium saucepan whisk together the milk and remaining 3 tablespoons flour. Bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring constantly. Then add the parmesan. Reduce to a simmer and stir frequently as the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.

Please observe: the sauce has thickened and decreased in volume.

After the sauce has reduce by a bit less than half or has thickened to your liking, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, spices, and sundried tomatoes. Remove the sauce from the heat.

Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a pot. Add the gnocchi in batches. Remove them with a slotted spoon when they float to the top of the water; that is when they are done.