Winter is coming to a close….actually winter never really arrived here in Oklahoma. It has been a shockingly mild winter, with little rain and very little snow. I am hoping we don’t get dumped on with 2 feet of snow in the middle of March. However if it does I am ready with a yummy dish fitting for a snow day.
Not only is this dish that I am about to share with you delicious but with a little planning can be done ahead of time and finished last-minute. Making it also a great option for a make ahead meal.
If you are not familiar with gnocchi it is a little Italian potato dumpling that is often used in place of pasta. I have made gnocchi in the past but for this dish I decided to use a pre-made gnocchi for an easy weeknight dinner.
In my refrigerator I had bits of wintry vegetables and some gnocchi in the pantry. I thought that a winter vegetable gnocchi would be a great way to use up those vegetables.
Pre-heat oven at 400 degrees. Trim half of a cauliflower head into small florets.
I had about 1/4 bag of large brussels sprouts left, which was about 5 brussels sprouts. Because they were large I cut them in quarters if yours are smaller cut them in halves.
Finally I also had some pre-cut butternut squash hanging out in the back left corner of the refrigerator. My produce tells me that is a very exclusive spot in my refrigerator. Probably because it furthest from the scary leftovers. You will need about 1/2 cup of cubed butternut squash.
Divide the vegetables between two sheet pans, one sheet pan with cauliflower and the other with brussels sprouts and butternut squash. You want to do this because the cauliflower will roast faster than the squash and brussels sprouts. Drizzle both with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss until evenly coated, roast in 400 degree oven until tender and browned.
While you vegetable are roasting you can start to get your gnocchi ready.
Bring 4-5 quarts of salted water to a boil, also have a large bowl of iced water set aside. Once the water has come to a boil drop in the gnocchi, within 2-3 minutes that will float to the top.
When the gnocchi floats remove it with a slotted spoon and place in ice water. This will shock the gnocchi and stop the cooking process.
Drain the gnocchi and place on a sheet pan lined with paper towels.
By now your cauliflower should be tender and brown around the edges. My favorite way to eat cauliflower is roasted. I may have stolen a few florets.
Pull the cauliflower, squash and sprouts from the oven when ready and set aside, allow them to cool.
Gnocchi cooked & drained…check.
Vegetables roasted & cooling…..check.
Now moving on to the pesto. This part is up to you, if you want to use a pre-made pesto feel free ,if you want to make it fresh try this pesto. I wanted to keep in the spirit of wintry so instead of pine nuts I decided to use some toasted pecans and some parsley.
Pesto is so simple, combine all the ingredients in a blender and push the button.
Puree until smooth.
At this point you can move on and assemble everything or you can store it in separate containers until dinner time.
When dinner time does come around heat a skillet over med-high heat, because I live with a carnivore I cooked up some Italian chicken sausage to add to the gnocchi.
Once the sausage is browned add gnocchi and vegetable to the skillet.
Add pesto and mix together until gnocchi and vegetables are hot.
Start a fire and spoon yourself up a heaping helping of deliciousness into a bowl, or take the skillet with you to the sofa and eat it straight out of the skillet, no one is watching.
Trust me roasting vegetables and tossing them in pesto is a great way to get your family to eat their vegetables. Those of you out there that have an aversion to cauliflower or brussels sprouts, pick yourself up by your bootstraps and give this dish a try, I believe you will converted.
Winter Vegetable Gnocchi (Serves 4)
- 1/2 cauliflower head, cut into florets
- 1 cup of brussels sprouts, half or quartered
- 1/2 cup of cubed butternut squash
- 16 oz package of gnocchi
- 3 links of Italian chicken sausage, sliced
- 1/2 cup of fresh basil
- 1/2 cup of fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup of toasted pecan pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- juice from 1/2 a lime
- salt & pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Divide vegetables between two sheet pans, one with cauliflower and the other with brussels sprout and butternut squash. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables until tender and browned, stirring once. About 10 minutes for cauliflower and 15 for squash and sprouts. Remove vegetables from oven and set aside and allow to cool.
While vegetables are roasting bring a 5 quart pot of salted water to boil, also have a large bowl of ice water ready. Add gnocchi, boil for 2-3 minutes our until the float to the top. Remove gnocchi from pot using a slotted spoon and place in ice water bath. Once gnocchi has cooled drain and place on sheet pan lined with paper towels.
Combine pesto ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. At this point you everything can be done 1 day ahead.
Heat a large skillet over med-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Add chicken sausage to skillet and cook until brown. Add roasted vegetables, gnocchi and 2 tablespoons of pesto or desired amount to skillet, mix together until well combined and hot.
Serve and enjoy!