Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Kale Pesto and Cashew Cheese

I’m a little obsessed with squash at the moment and I’m always looking for new ways to prepare it. Gnocchi is traditionally made with starchy potatoes, eggs and white flour, and can sit quite heavily on the stomach. So of course I leaped at the chance to create a more nutritious version that is also vegan and gluten-free! Using butternut squash instead of potato is a great way to make gnocchi a little lighter, add an extra boost of nutrients and incorporate those Autumn flavours.

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The Kale Pesto and Cashew Cheese go perfectly with this dish and add a healthy dollop of vitamins and minerals. Kale is abundant and flavourful at this time of the year and is one of the healthiest vegetables around – it’s an excellent source of vitamins K, A and C, and is virtually fat-free. It also contains lots of calcium, which makes it especially useful for vegans and people on dairy-free diets.

These are a little trickier to make than potato gnocchi as squash carries more moisture and less starch, so I’ve tried to make this recipe as simple as possible.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Kale Pesto and Cashew Cheese (VE, GF)

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Serves 4
Cooking time: 1.5 hours

Ingredients

For the Gnocchi:

  • 250g puréed butternut squash
  • 200g rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or Italian mixed herbs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseeds* with 3 tbsp warm water – left for 5 minutes to congeal)

For the Kale Pesto:

  • 150g organic green kale, stalks removed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 50ml olive oil
  • A pinch of salt and pepper

For the Cashew Cheese:

  • 150g cashew nuts, soaked for at least 2 hours
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 50ml water
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast**
  • 1/2 tsp salt

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Method:

To make the Kale Pesto: simply blend all the ingredients together in a food processor.

To make the Cashew Cheese: blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.

To make the Gnocchi:

  1. Roast the butternut squash for appox. 25-30 minutes until soft.
  2. Once the squash is cooked through allow it to cool for a bit. Whilst you wait, mix together the dry ingredients for the gnocchi in a large bowl.
  3. Once the squash has cooled down, blend/mash into a purée before adding it to your dry ingredients, along with your flax egg. Mix until it forms a dry dough. Use your hands to mix the dough until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Divide the dough into sections and roll each section into a long tube, about 2cm in diameter, before cutting the tubes into gnocchi pieces.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Gently place the gnocchi into the water and cook for around 2-3 minutes until they start to float to the top. Remove from the water and drain.
  6. Serve with dollops of Kale Pesto and Cashew Cheese!

Ingredients explained:

* Flaxseeds (also known as linseeds) are a rich source of omega fatty acids, especially omega 3 which is usually found in oily fish and helps keeps your heart healthy. You can find them in most health food shops, such as Holland and Barrett. You will need the ground version to make flax eggs.

** Nutritional yeast is a vegan’s best friend! It’s deactivated yeast sold in flakes that makes everything taste cheesy. It’s packed with vitamin B12 (which most people, vegans and meat-eaters alike, are deficient in), folic acid, selenium, zinc and some protein. You can find it in most health food stores.

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