Showing posts with label fall foods. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fall foods. Show all posts

08 November 2015

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sausage and Thyme

Apple chunks, raisins, walnuts and a topping of sharp cheddar add a taste of autumn.
Last fall I was couch ridden, thanks to a painful leg injury. After several months of physical therapy followed by almost-daily workouts, I ventured into the kitchen to try my hand at meal preparation again.

I've made some incredibly tasty meals, mostly old favorites and comfort food, but I felt ready to tackle something new this fall.

Like hords of others, I love the seasonal flavor of pumpkin, and although I'm not ready for pumpkin spice everything, when I saw a package of pumpkin-potato gnocchi at the supermarket, I thought I'd give it a whirl.

It's not the easiest pasta to work with, as it happens.

I followed directions on the package. Pre-boil about five quarts of water, salt it, add gnocchi at full boil and continue two minutes after gnocchi rises to the surface, then drain.

I tasted. Bland. A bit paste-like. Perhaps I overcooked?

Now what?

Here's what I came up with:
  • 1/1 17/6-ounce package gnocchi
  • 2 medium or one very large sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 links of apple-chicken sausage, sliced about a half-inch thick
  • 1 chopped apple, any variety, but choose one that holds up when heated
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/8 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • salt and pepper to taste (lightly on the pepper)
  • 1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Prepare and measure all ingredients in advance. With gnocchi, one must move fast to keep it from getting mushy.

While gnocchi is boiling, sauté onions until carmelized, adding sliced sausage, apple and thyme. Use a large skillet, so you can add gnocchi when thoroughly cooked. Lower heat, add walnuts and raisins, Stir gently, so as not to break open the gnocchi.

Serve with grated cheese on top.

A few things tips and things I learned:

  • Use onions, not shallots, for more robust flavor.
  • Undercook the gnocchi, just a bit.
  • Go light on the pepper. Just a dash.
  • Add more butter, if you wish.
  • Try a pinch of brown sugar at the very end.
  • Consider a healthy dash of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
  • Thyme may be increased, according to individual tastes.
  • Pair with warm spinach salad and cornbread. Serve with hard cider.
I'm not sure I'll try this again. Too carb-y and tasteless on its own. But with some additions and some trial and error, the dish was good, especially with a side salad that added a bit of tartness and freshness.

08 September 2008

Caramel Apples: The Sweet Rituals of Fall

I heard gunshots this morning, an early sign of the approaching season.

Every September they begin (It's always hunting season in Wisconsin, it seems), just about the time I am tumbling out of bed and shuffling downstairs for the strong and hot cup of coffee that will nudge me into the shower and eventually propel me out the door. I am no fan of guns, but these shots remind me of the welcome rhythms of the season (and in any case, they are coming from the other side of the river or perhaps the wetland a quarter mile away, known in the old days as Hunter's Slough).

There are other seasonal markers to appreciate: The smell of woodsmoke at night, the pumpkin stands along the highway, the skeins of geese that fly overhead at dusk, our sudden preference for red wine and hearty stews and soups. And caramel apples in the grocery store. We have made our own a time or two, but it has become tradition for me buy the first one of the season as an offering to my husband.

I bring it home and present it to him with a small bit of ceremony, a smile, a slight bow, a kiss. It might be silly of me, it might not be, but it is a ritual I enjoy and I think he does, too. We are adults with all too many responsibilities, but our relationship is based on a million silly little gestures, too. I like them, all of them. They, too, are part of life's rhythms.

Caramel apples, succotash, pumpkin pie, apple cider: The first taste of each in the fall is a marker of sorts, an essential rituals that provides us with a measure of security and sweetness.

It is early in the season yet, and there is much ahead to savor and appreciate.

What is your first culinary ritual of the fall?