Monday, October 18, 2010

Rainbow Chard Gnocchi

What a jampacked weekend! Went shopping for kid's presents (it's almost as much fun buying 'em as I remember it was playing with the toys), had way too much fast food, met up with an old varsity friend and reminisced over cocktails (aaaah the cocktails...), begged for secondhand boxes at the supermarket, packed a substantial portion of our kitchen cupboard contents and gave the insides of the cupboards a fresh lick of paint. Industrious, right?

We also attended the very first birthday party of little B (aka TheGodson) and became privy to the good news that number two is on the way! I'm hoping for a little girl that I can play dress up with spoil rotten practise my hair plaiting skills on, but mommy dearest is hoping for another boy. Time will tell I suppose (girl girl girl!). *ahem*

But to kick off the weekend, I headed to the kitchen. My happy place. To shake off all the week's woes and recollect my thoughts. I wanted to make gnocchi. But not your run-of-the mill gnocchi. I wanted to stuff it with greens and cheesy goodness. And just look at my pretty veggiebox loot! Golden potatoes (so yellow! *love*) and chard with stems all the colours of the rainbow. Well two of them at least. 

And so I set out mashing the potatoes, chopping the chard (but reserving the colourful stems - I just couldn't bear to throw them out) and getting out a hunk of caraway seed studded cheese. The dough was formed into little balls, then stuffed with a pinchful of chard and a tiny square of cheese. I brought the ends of the dough together and ended with pretty little round potato balls. Who would guess just by looking at them, that they had a surprise yum-factor on the inside?

The stuffed gnocchi was looking fairly awesome, but I needed a topping. Nothing too elaborate, just something to round the gnocchi off and complement the flavours already present. What better candidate than onions? Sauteed with minced garlic in a pool of macadamia nut oil and butter. I'm telling you, nut oils are a revelation. If you haven't tried them, you're seriously missing out. I fried those onions up until soft, then let them caramelise ever so slightly - this really brought out the creamy nuttiness of the oil. Which can't be a bad thing, can it? 

Something was still missing though. The dish looked terribly pale. Suddenly I remembered the reserved rainbow chard stems, full of promise in their bright magentas and blazing yellows. Chopped up and sauteed briefly, they formed the perfect finishing touch. Rainbow in a bowl! With a side of cheesy goodness. Time consuming,  yes. Worth it? Without a doubt.

Rainbow Chard Gnocchi
Serves 4

This is not a quick weeknight meal by any stretch of the imagination (although it could be if you made the gnocchi ahead and froze it), so choose a day when you have enough time to not be rushed, put on some relaxing music and settle in with only your thoughts to keep you company while you stuff and roll the gnocchi. You will end up with a clear head, relaxed attitude and happy belly.

For the gnocchi:
7 smallish potatoes (or use 4 medium sized ones), boiled in their skins, then peeled
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
250g rainbow chard 
60g semi-firm cheese, broken into small chunks

For the topping:
2 tbsp macadamia nut oil
2 tbsp butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
semi-firm cheese, broken into small chunks (optional)

1. Mash potatoes into a large bowl, then add egg, salt, flour, baking powder and pepper and mix thoroughly, making sure the flour is fully incorporated. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, start prepping the chard, reserving the stems and chopping the leaves finely. You'll only need about a quarter of the leaves, so store the rest for later use.
3. Taking about a tablespoon full of dough at a time, form into a ball, then flatten with your thumb and place a little bit of the chopped chard on top, followed by a small chunk of cheese. Bring the sides up and together, enclosing the filling within and forming into a little ball.  The dough will be fairly easy to work with and should enclose the filling without any hassles. I did find that my hands got sticky after a while, so had to rinse them once or twice during the process.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, heat macadamia nut oil and butter in a small frying pan over high heat, and add onions and garlic. Fry for 1 - 2 minutes, stirring frequently, then turn the heat down and cook another 5 - 6 minutes until soft and starting to caramelise. Chop the chard stems finely and add to the onions, cooking another 2- 3 minutes or until softened.
5. When the water has come to a rolling boil, add gnocchi in batches, ensuring that the pot is not overcrowded as this will lower the temperature and interfere with the cooking process. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm. 

When all the gnocchi is cooked, rinse with hot water, then divide amongst serving bowls, topped with the sauteed onions and chard stems. Top with cubes of cheese, if desired, and serve warm.

You can use any cheese for this - I used a semi-firm cheese studded with caraway seeds, but I think blue cheese would be fantastic too.


Vegolicious on October 24, 2010 3:16 am said...

This looks so colorful and delicious!

I’d love for you to submit one of your beautiful photos, and a link to your post, to my new vegetarian food photo gallery showcasing beautiful and flavorful vegetarian food.

Marisa on October 24, 2010 3:16 am said...

I know! My mind is racing with other stuffing ideas...

Marisa on October 24, 2010 3:16 am said...

Definitely not scary, just strangely calming. Give it a go!

Joanne on October 24, 2010 3:16 am said...

i wish I had some small children to buy presents for. Or that I was going to be an aunt sometime soon (AHEM to my brother).

I love the idea of stuffing gnocchi! Wow you have just opened up a world of ideas to me. Biting into that mass of vibrant green chard must have been awesome. Great idea.

Megg @ PopArtichoke on October 24, 2010 3:16 am said...

This looks fantastic! It's so serendipitous.. I just got some lovely rainbow chard at the farmers market yesterday and was trying to think of unique ways to use it. I recently made some gnocchi so I'm a bit gnocchi-ed out right now, but I'm definitely going to add this to my list of recipes to make! Thanks for sharing!

Prerna@IndianSimmer said...

I don't know why but Gnocchis always scare me and I've never tried making it myself. The recipe looks great and not so SCARY :-)
Thanx 4 sharing!

Jane-Anne on October 24, 2010 3:17 am said...

Love the colours and flavours in this dish. Beautiful.

Arnold on October 24, 2010 3:17 am said...

This looks so good it should be framed and hung on the wall. Well done.

Marisa on October 24, 2010 3:17 am said...

It not only looks impressive, but tastes impressive too.

Juanita said...

That's some impressive gnocchi!

arcadia said...

Dit lyk heerlik. En is rainbow chard nie net te pragtig nie?

Claudz on October 24, 2010 3:17 am said...

Looks delish!
I'm going to make gnocchi tonight. You and LadyRaven have inspired me :)

Marisa on October 24, 2010 3:17 am said...

The stems add such lovely colour! So glad they were in my veggiebox.

Marisa on October 24, 2010 3:17 am said...

I aim to please... ;-)

Marisa on October 24, 2010 3:17 am said...

Time-consuming, but great to bite into that pocket of cheese and chard. :-)

Sharon said...

Dit lyk en klink heerlik!!! Jy weet ook net hoe om my honger te maak!!!

Nina - My Easy Cooking said...

How clever to stuuf those littel babies. The Best Meatless Monday recipe I have seen today!!!!

Tandy said...

nut oils are amazing! congrats on the baby to be :) those swiss chard stems made so much difference - something to look out for.

Faith on October 24, 2010 3:23 am said...

What a fun, unique twist on gnocchi! I would love to make my own gnocchi sometime!

Marisa on October 26, 2010 7:57 am said...

Thanks for letting me know, will be checking out your site.

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