Creamy Parmesan Gnocchi with Kale
Creamy Parmesan Gnocchi is one of the only recipe where I can get my guys to eat kale without faces of pure disgust. The menfolk in my house are not fond of kale or any other bitter greens regardless of how it is prepared. You can simmer those greens with pork, butter, and salt for years and it still isn’t tasty enough. So this is a challenge since dark leafy greens are good for you.
While I like all sorts of greens, be it not often prepared in a healthy manner outside of spinach, I want to get more greens in my family’s diet outside of salads. In the summer, salads are wonderful, but in the winter something warm and hearty is needed.
Fits the Bill
This is where Creamy Parmesan Gnocchi fits the bill. It is a one-pot meal with simple ingredients. Outside of kale and maybe gnocchi – and I’ll come to that in a minute – are pantry items. All it is veg broth, minced garlic, milk, butter, white beans, and chunk Parmesan cheese. My pantry has an array of canned white beans such as Northern White, Cannellini, and butter beans. Use whatever you have in your cabinets. The final texture may change, but do what works best for you. Shock your pantry with bottled minced garlic and veg broth. I always have “real” butter on hand to cook and bake with in my kitchen. Don’t skimp on the Parmesan cheese. Buy a chunk and grate it yourself. One it is cheaper and two it is real cheese.
You can buy various types of gnocchi today. I admit there are three packages of potato gnocchi in my cabinets along with penne pasta. I decided last winter I was going to make homemade gnocchi. As I continue to evaluate my relationship with processed foods, I look to make my food from wholesome ingredients. I have to say that homemade gnocchi is amazing compared to the store-made. Just a level of fresh and taste. While it is simple, there is a process in making them well. If you want to make homemade gnocchi then go here.
This a family favorite even with the kale in it, but when kale isn’t available then I use spinach. It is a quick vegetarian meal for a busy weekday night.
- - 1 tablespoon olive oil
- - 4 teaspoons minced garlic
- - 2 cups veggie broth
- - 1 cup milk
- - 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- - Salt and pepper, to taste
- - 16 ounces gnocchi
- - 3 cups chopped fresh kale
- - 1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained
- - ? cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- - Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.
- - Add garlic; stir constantly for 1 minute until fragrant.
- - Add broth, milk, butter and a few dashes of salt and pepper.
- - Add gnocchi; stir to combine.
- - Cook, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes until gnocchi is soft and cooked through.
- - Stir in kale, beans and Parmesan cheese.
- - Cook until kale is just wilted.
- - Serve with more grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
Nothing Beats Homemade Gnocchi
Being Irish with the DNA test to show I have no southern European genes, pasta came out of a box and the sauce from a jar growing up. Fresh pasta was unknown. In the late 70s and early 80s, my mom learned how to make tomato sauce and meatballs from our Italian-American neighbors who wanted to share their love of food with us. That was the beginning of the love of Italian food.
Fast forward 30 or so years, I got the nerve to make pasta. I have been making my own sauces for years so it shouldn’t be too much of a leap for me to make my own pasta. Gnocchi is a versatile pasta working with many different sauces and soups. It is a potato dumpling.
The Gnocchi Process
Gnocchi is easy to make if you follow the recipe. There is a process to this humble food. Make it a family affair getting kids in involved in making their dinner.
Here is the low down on making them:
- The potatoes are key. Boil them with their skins on until fork tender about 20 minutes. This helps the potato not to absorb access water. Remember dry potatoes are good and water potatoes are bad. Over-boiling the potatoes causes them to become mushy.
- Invest in a potato ricer. I wish I did. I mashed my potatoes and they weren’t fine enough leaving the gnocchi lumpy.
- When you go knead the dough, be careful not to over-knead. Also be careful at this point of adding flour. By adding too much flour will give you hard gnocchi.
Maybe I will attempt to make another type of pasta.
Gnocchi Making in Photos
- - 2 1/2 lbs. of potato, approx. 4 lg. potatoes
- - 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup or more for working dough
- - 1/2 tsp. salt
- - 1 egg
- - Boil potatoes with their skins on a large pot with just enough water to cover them, boil potatoes with their skins on for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Don't over-boiling will cause potatoes to become mushy and too wet.
- - Drain the potatoes well allowing them to cool in a colander.
- - Peel the potatoes removing any brown spots that might be below the skin.
- - Using a potato ricer, rice the peeled potatoes.
- - Mound riced potato on the middle of a wooden board or a clean, dry countertop. Top with flour.
- - Sprinkle with salt.
- - Make a well using your hands, scoop out the center of your mound.
- - Add the egg into the center of the well the beat the egg with a fork.
- - Incorporate ingredients using the fork, slowly start to pull in flour and potato to mix ingredients.
- - Begin to form the dough using your.
- - Knead the dough by pulling together ingredients and knead to form dough. Be careful not to over-knead. Be weary of adding flour at this point. Too much flour will give you hard gnocchi.
- - Shape the dough into a long, wide rectangle for cutting.
- - Cut dough into 8-10 pieces, about 4 inches long.
- - Roll into ropes by gently pushing with fingers spread.
- - Cut dough ropes using a pastry cutter or non-serrated knife into 1-inch pieces then cut ends at an angle.
- - Ridges or indents using a fork to create ridges or indent gently with your thumb.
- - Cook the gnocchi until they float to the top in a pot of boiling water for about 2-4 minutes. Gently remove them with a slotted spoon, drain very well. Toss them in a saucepan with your favorite sauce and cook together for about 2 minutes.
Quick and Easy Black Bean Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Attempting to lead hardened meat-lovers towards a plant-based diet is difficult. Black Bean Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes goes a long way in getting them to stop saying, “some chicken would taste nice in this.” That’s a huge hurdle is jumped.
Moving folks closer to a plant-based diet is hard. The biggest issue is the mindset. When I was a vegetarian over twenty years ago, I have to admit, vegetarian food was boring and tasteless unless you ate Indian. There was salad, potatoes, pasta, and cooked veg — western European food without meat. I would go into the local co-op buying canned soups and chili, and honestly, they weren’t delicious. Add in fact, that people believed it isn’t going to be filling as meat and that it is expensive, it is a tough sell.
Times have changed.
With an influx of spices, veggies, and cooking techniques from around the globe, vegetarian food has become more robust with flavors and textures. One of my goals in writing Well Worn Apron is to share with folks that plant-based meals are just as tasty, filling, and affordable as meals incorporating meat. Don’t be afraid to use spices, onions, and garlic in your cooking. In my kitchen, I use a lot of chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, thyme, dill, rosemary, gram masala, and curry powder. Pack your fridge with bottled minced garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. I keep spice mixes such as Montreal and Lemon Pepper seasonings. And eating more plant-based meals doesn’t have to be expensive if you stock your pantry. Buy lentils, beans, coconut milk, and veggie broth in bulk then add in the fresh veg or frozen veg. Slow cookers are great for vegetarian meals.
Black Bean Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes is an excellent recipe to sample as a yummy vegetarian meal. Even though my photo doesn’t do the meal justice. It tastes pretty darn good.
Black Bean Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- - 6 small sweet potatoes
- - 1 cup cooked quinoa
- - 1 tablespoon olive oil
- - 1 yellow onion — diced
- - 1 red or yellow bell pepper — diced
- - 1 jalapeño — cored, seeded, and finely chopped
- - 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- - 2 teaspoons minced cloves garlic
- - 2 teaspoons chili powder
- - 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- - 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- - 1 (15-ounce) can black beans — rinsed and drained
- - 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
- - Juice from 1 lime
- - 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- - Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- - Line rimmed baking sheet with foil.
- - Scrub sweet potatoes, pat dry, and prick sweet potatoes with fork.
- - Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake until fork tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size.
- - Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. Leave the oven turned on.
- - Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to package instructions. You should have about 1 cup cooked total. Set aside.
- While the sweet potatoes bake and the quinoa cooks, prepare the filling.
- - Heat the olive oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium.
- - Add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, and salt.
- - Cook until the vegetables soften and the onion begins to brown.
- - Add the garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika, and cumin.
- - Stir to coat the vegetables in the spices, then cook until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- - Stir in the black beans and quinoa. Remove from the heat.
- - Stir in the sour cream/yogurt, lime juice, and 1/2 cup cheese.
- - Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.
- Assemble the meal.
- - With a fork, make a split then open the split and lightly fluff the insides to make space for the toppings.
- - Place the sweet potatoes back on the baking sheet, then stuff with the quinoa–black bean mixture - Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, then return the sweet potatoes to the oven.
- - Cook until the filling is heated through and the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.
Cranberry Chutney – A Multipurpose Condiment
Most American holiday tables from Thanksgiving to Christmas have some sort of cranberry dish. I grew up the jellied kind that came out of a can. Just slice it up and serve it. Sometimes my Mom would make a cranberry mold. All of it was good. It felt like I was eating dessert with my main course.
I never got my Mom’s cranberry mold recipe before she passed and she never wrote her recipes down so I had to make my own way. And maybe why it is important to me to write this blog for my son’s sake. I want to preserve and share family favorite recipes. I want my son to be able to have access to them to make for his friends and family when I am gone hopefully passing them on family traditions.
In our first year in Newport, we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. And what is a Thanksgiving dinner without a cranberry product? Not Thanksgiving that’s what.
As I wandered through BJ’s, I came across a huge bag of cranberries from New England. On the back of this bag of Cape Cod Select cranberries was a recipe for a cranberry chutney. Why not I thought. Let’s just go for it. The huge bag of cranberry was in my cart.
This is a super easy recipe. A tart apple like a Granny Smith is best, I use Gala or whatever apples I have on hand. I recently made a batch and added overly ripe pear with the apple to the mixture. And very versatile. While you can serve this with turkey, you can serve it with other food. Warm some brie up and top it with this cranberry chutney. You can serve it with roasted pork. Top plain yogurt for an added punch to breakfast
- 4 cups cranberries
- 1 large apple
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1. Chop up an apple. A tart apple is recommended, but use whatever you have on hand.
- 2. Combine all ingredients in saucepan.
- 3. Bring to a boil stirring along the way.
- 4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Apple should be tender and the mixture thickens.
- 5. Serve warm or chilled.
Turkish Eggplant Tomato Casserole
One of my favorite vegetables is eggplant. I am always looking for new ways to cook eggplant. I can never eat enough of Turkish cuisine. It is one of the cuisines I hope to explore more of in the future to cook.
So when I came across Imam Bayildi or Turkish Eggplant Tomato Casserole, I had to make it. While this is a simple recipe, it is time-consuming. About an hour and a half so it isn’t a quick weekday meal, but a leisurely weekend one. Do not let the time scare you off, It is worth making it.
This dish is nice year round. It can be served warm or at room temperature. I have served it with hummus and pita or a cucumber salad. It also would go nicely with roasted or grilled meat.
Imam Bayildi Turkish Eggplant Tomato Casserole
- 2 pounds of medium-sized eggplant (I prefer Japanese eggplant, but Italian will do) thinly sliced
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1-4 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
- Dash of cinnamon
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 1 Preheat the oven to 350F.
- 2 Lightly salt the eggplant slices and allow to stand for 20 minutes. Pat the slices dry and set aside.
- 3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil.
- 4 .Pan fry the eggplant in batches over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Add more oil as necessary between batches so the eggplant doesn't burn, but try not to have too heavy a hand - the pan just needs to be greased.
- 5. Remove the eggplant to a plate.
- 6. Add the onion to the skillet and saute over medium heat until soft.
- 7. Add the garlic, chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and cinnamon. Cook for one minute more, until fragrant.
- 8 Add tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in half the parsley.
- 9. Spread a layer of tomato sauce in an oven proof casserole dish. Layer eggplant and sauce.
- 10. Cover with foil or casserole lid and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft and the sauce has reduced.
- 11. Let it stand for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
- 12. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.
Years ago, a friend made me granola. It was amazing and she shared the recipe. I made it a lot then life got busy and it had quite a few ingredients. I just couldn’t keep up with keeping the ingredients in the kitchen and making it. I abandoned it.
Fast forward a decade or so, I am sitting a Girl Scout Women of Distinction breakfast in Providence, Rhode Island. The breakfast starter was granola, plain Greek yogurt, blueberries, and honey. It was divine! It got me thinking about granola again. What a nice change for breakfast would it be outside of my usual of Wasa crispbread and cheese or homemade bread and cheese. I went to the grocery store looking for granola. While there was a huge selection, none of them seem to work for me. I don’t know if it was all the ingredients with some I could not pronounce or the sugar or fat content, but I walked away empty handed. Off to the Internet, I went to seek out an easy simple granola recipe. I found it on The Live Fit Girls blog.
Granola Made Simple
The recipe was super easy and quick. Only six ingredients needed to make this recipe and you can make it in about 30 minutes. The key to this recipe is the quality of ingredients. I used organic and local products. They are worth seeking out especially the honey. That said if you can not find organic and local then buy what you can. I couldn’t find raw local honey, but I did buy some organic at the grocery store. As for my rolled oats, I went with Bob’s Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats Whole Grain. Bob’s Red Mill products are always good quality. And they haven’t paid me to say so.
The preparation could not have been easier. Chop almonds and mix with oats then toast in the oven. While the oats mixture is toasting, you mix the wet ingredients. Once the oats are done then drizzle the honey mixture over the oats then pop by in the oven. The important step is in the toasting. You toast first at 350F then complete the toasting with the oven off. It makes the granola less likely to burn.
I made this recipe at night after a crazy day. Only took me 30 minutes. I let the granola cool overnight and it was ready for breakfast the next day. Recently I have been making this once a week and when I make my bread. Trying to use my time efficiently. Plus the house smells amazing… the sweet smell of toasted oats, almonds, and honey then the next day the house smells of freshly baked bread. Good to live in my house.
This recipe is really a winner at my house especially with my son who is not a breakfast eater and he loves this granola. It is fresh, flavorful, and you can pronounce all of the ingredients. We have it with blueberries, plain Greek yogurt, and local honey. It will keep you going the whole day. It even tastes yummy with just milk if you run out of yogurt. As for yogurt, use a good Greek yogurt. I’d recommend Fage or Chobai and I buy the fat-free versions.
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup raw almonds, chopped
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 2 teaspoons melted coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix dry ingredients in a glass baking dish and toast them in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the oats are toasting, combine the wet ingredients.
- After the oats are toasted (they should be very aromatic), drizzle the honey mixture over the oats. Stir until well combined.
- On a baking sheet lined with wax paper form a single layer of the oat mixture.
- Place the baking sheet back in the oven and turn the over OFF. This will allow the granola to finish toasting without burning. Let it sit in the oven for 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.