Friday, 20 January 2017

The Color Purple - Caramelised Beetroot garlic and sage gnocchi with 3 cheeses

I am currently in the enviable situation of having the time to experiment with developing new recipes and updating some old ones.This one has allowed me to put a new spin one of my old favourites, and indulge myself in one of my many guilty pleasures, which is playing with the colour of food.Bright colours can make food look so appetising as well as being fresh and healthy.Isn´t it strange that when you walk past the health food aisle or are browsing in the local health food store you are faced with an onslaught of crackers, cookies, cereals, bars, and other convenience foods completely lacking in vibrance, fragrance, and colour.  It seems that that anything labelled gluten free seems to don some sort of unappetising shade of brown Keeping abreast of a healthy diet can sometimes feel like a full-time job. Eat more kale, cut out meat, cut out sugar,no salt, eat this fat not that fat, eat some carbs but not too much, read the labels, watch your calories... the list is endless. Now, we are on the brink of a new health fad,and one that is so simple - just use purple vegetables in your favourite recipes.Purple is the new green.
One of the more colourful food trends of the new year is "purple everything",  purple asparagus,purple carrots (if you can get them) purple cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli and purple potatoes, among others. 
 I love the colour purple, and having recently made orange coloured gnocchi with sweet potato, I could see no reason why gnocchi could not don a coat of many colours. 

Caramelised Beetroot and sage gnocchi with 3 cheeses 
makes approx.48

250g baby beetroots,trimmed and halved
550g mashed potatoes
5 cloves garlic unpeeled
half cup fresh sage leaves
1 tbsp brown sugar 
1/4 cup (2 fl oz) olive oil 
Flor de sal and cracked black pepper
200g  Requeijao / ricotta cheese  
100g flour  (you’ll most likely need an extra 1/4 cup flour).
1 beaten egg yolk (optional) see note below*
Take a small baking tray with sides and tear a  sheet of aluminium foil slightly larger than the tray.Trim the beetroots and place them in the bowl with the cloves of garlic
sage leaves ,sugar and olive oil.Toss well to coat everything.Tip the contents of the bowl into the foil and pull all the sides of the foil together to make a tight parcel.Put the baking tray in the oven and bake at 200C for at least 45 minutes or until the beets are cooked.If they are not soft to the tip of a sharp knife continue cooking until they are.Alternatively leave them in the oven and turn the oven off.When the beets are cool enough peel the skin off with your hands.It should come away easily.Squeeze the soft roasted garlic from its skin and put it along with the beets and sage in the food processor and blitz until you have a smooth paste.


FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE
25g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour 
150 ml milk
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
120g chevre
Melt 25g butter in a pan over a medium heat then stir in 1 tablespoon of flour. Slowly add 150ml milk, stirring all the time until the sauce is smooth and all the milk has been added. Bring to a simmer and add the cheeses.Stir the sauce well until all the cheese is well incorporated and completely melted.

While the beetroots are roasting peel the potatoes  and cut them into large 3cm pieces and steam them; this will take about 20 minutes.Put a large pan of boiling salted water on a high heat. Drain the potatoes, allow them to steam dry for a couple of minutes to get rid of as much moisture as possible.( I put them flat on a baking tray and dried them for 20 minutes on a very low heat in the oven then mashed them well with a potato masher).
Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour on a clean counter or cutting board, and knead the potatoes with it, add the ricotta and beetroot purée sprinkling in the remaining flour, until the dough just comes together. Pinch off a piece of the dough, and boil it to make sure it will hold its shape. If it does not, knead in a bit more flour (no more than necessary), and try again; the gnocchi will float to the top and look a little ragged when ready.
Roll a piece of the dough into a rope about 1/2-inch thick, then cut the rope into 1/2-inch lengths. Score each piece by rolling it along the tines of a fork; as each piece is ready, put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper; do not allow the gnocchi to touch one another.
Add gnocchi to the boiling water a few at a time, and stir gently; adjust the heat so the mixture doesn’t boil too vigorously. A few seconds after they rise to the surface, the gnocchi are done; remove them with a slotted spoon or mesh strainer, and finish with the

cheese sauce 

*THE TRICK:
Make sure your gnocchi mix is really dry before you mash it and add the rest of the ingredients.
Another option is to add an egg, which makes success more likely, but  people disagree about this —  it makes the final product a tad heavier.You want pillows not pebbles.
Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe you can start messing around with other vegetables in combination with potatoes. Carrots,sweet potato and spinach are all terrific — especially for their colours. Cook them in olive oil until soft, purée them in the food processor and mix them into the cooked potatoes — because the vegetables carry some extra moisture, you’ll most likely need a little more flour.

Spinach Gnocchi

Roughly chop 8 ounces spinach. Cook in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat, seasoning to taste and stirring, until soft and wilted, about 5 minutes. Rinse under cold water and squeeze dry. Transfer to food processor and purée until smooth. Stir into the mashed potatoes in recipe above (you’ll most likely need an extra 1/4 cup flour)

 

 

Carrot Gnocchi

Peel and grate 1/2 pound carrots. Cook in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat, seasoning to taste, until very soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to food processor and purée until smooth. Stir into the mashed potatoes in recipe above (you’ll most likely need an extra 1/4 cup flour).

Variations on a theme of sauces

While butter and cheese make a great topping for gnocchi, there’s a plethora of ways to finish the fluffy,airy pillows. piquant tomato,bacon and cream,

                                                 butter sage and parmesan,Piquillo pepper and roquefort

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