What do you call a recipe that comprises of guidance more than an actual recipe with exact measurements? Recidea? Idecipe?
It is something that Nigel Slater has down to a fine art – he takes a piece of that, the end of a packet of this, then adds in whatever he has to hand and combines flavours to come up with a masterpiece.
It certainly is a more frugal way to cook – knowing how to adapt, what you can add, what you can substitute and what you can leave out is an essential skill for any domestic cook. I detest food waste and am an inveterate freezer; my deep freeze is filled with pots and jars of this and that, all of which get used. When cooking a regular weekday lunch or supper I partially judge the success of the meal by the number of empty pots, jars and packets it generates!
I was delighted to be approached by Voucher Codes and be asked to make a video of an affordable autumn dish – this is delicious, warming and very adaptable. It can be prepped ahead – poppped in the fridge then baked later in the day, and is perfect for a weekend supper on the sofa when watching your talent show of choice!
Recipe: Blue Cheese, Butternut Squash & Gnocchi Bake
1 Butternut Squash – Peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
Glug olive oil
500g bag Gnocchi
100g bag of spinach or other leafy green vegetable
Pinch dried herbs – oregano, thyme etc
150ml double cream
150ml vegetable stock
100g soft blue cheese
Preheat oven to 200C /400f/Gas Mark 7
Place the cubed butternut squash in a baking tray with a splash of vegetable oil and seasoning, give a good shake and put to roast in the oven for 15 minutes. When cooked, set to one side in a large bowl.
Put gnocchi in a pan of boiling water for around 2 – 3 minutes until cooked. The gnocchi is cooked when it’s risen to the top of the pan. Drain and then add it to the butternut squash.
Add the spinach, lemon zest and dried herbs to the butternut squash and gnocchi mix, stir and season. Put the butternut squash, gnocchi and spinach into an oven proof gratin dish.
Mix the cream and vegetable stock together and pour into the gratin dish. If needed add some more stock so the liquid reaches about 2/3 the way up the other ingredients.
Cut the fig into quarters and nestle in the gnocchi mixture, crumble the cheese and scatter over the mixture.
Place in the oven to cook for 20 – 30 minutes – when cooked the cream would have thickened and the top would have started to brown.
- Quantities are a guide – you really do not need to measure anything for this dish – adapt according to size of the squash, number of people and appetites.
- Spare roasted butternut squash can be kept in the fridge for several days, or frozen – use in curries, dals, soups and smoothies. You can also substitute pumpkin or other squashes.
- Gnocchi keeps for a good few weeks in the fridge in an unopened packet. Once opened use within a few days, or freeze and cook from frozen.
- Any leafy greens would work in place of the spinach – chard, kale, cavolo nero.
- If you do not like blue cheese, top with grated cheddar. Add some breadcrumbs to make a crunchy topping.
Fuss Free Flavours was commissioned by Voucher Codes to develop an affordable autumn recipe. I was compensated for my time spent filming and developing the recipe.