Thursday, October 23, 2008
Farmer's Market Bounty
If you are a blog reader, you are probably tired of being told you should shop at Farmer's Markets. Enough with the local and seasonal song and dance, you may say. But look at these radicchio. You can't tell from this photo, but they were the size of heads of romaine. They had dirt still attached to the outer leaves and they lived for four days in my refrigerator and still seemed as fresh as the day there were picked. I paid $4 each for these guys which is probably less than they would have cost in the supermarket, assuming I could ever find anything this gorgeous in the supermarket.
From the same farmer, I bought a type of squash that I had never seen before. It is a close relative of the delicata but with a rosier color and a rounder shape. Most importantly, it has that lovely thin skin that, when cooked, is entirely edible. These beautiful examples of fall produce starred in a gnocchi dish that I got from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Suppers cookbook. I made some big changes to the method but used her advice for ingredients. It feels almost sacrilegious to try and improve on a recipe that one of the all-time great vegetarians wrote, but I think my changes impart a little more flavor and allow you to do some steps ahead of time.
Gnocchi with Winter Squash and Seared Radicchio
Adapted from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen
If you can't find delicata squash, you can always use butternut, just be sure to peel it first. Per Deborah Madison, you can also make this with cheese ravioli or tortellini.
3 lbs. delicata squash
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp. maple syrup
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 large head radicchio
2 garlic cloves, minced
Big handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
12 or more sage leaves, finely chopped or 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 lb. potato gnocchi
Freshly ground Parmesan cheese and/or crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash(es) in half and remove the seeds and pulp. Slice cross-wise into 1/2 inch wide slices. Place on a baking sheet, then drizzle with a little olive oil, the maple syrup, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Mix well with your hands and bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven, turn slices over and bake another 10-15 minutes, until slices are nicely browned. Allow to cool, then cut into 3/4 inch pieces. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.)
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan and add the radicchio, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, tender, and no longer red, about 8 minutes. Add the squash, garlic, sage and parsley and cook for 5 more minutes, until the garlic is no longer raw.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the gnocchi and simmer until done, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove to gnocchi and place them in the skillet with the radicchio along with some of the cooking water. Add one or both cheeses and stir together, adding more cooking water as necessary to keep the dish moist. Season with salt and pepper as desired.