And so begins the first of my experiments in making pasta with Jerusalem artichokes. Although you can buy the flour at some health food stores for an exorbitant price, there are still few recipes out there which use it. It seems that, so far, its only use is to take it as a remedy or food supplement rather than treat it as a worthwhile food in its own right.
So I made gnocchi, with the flour, and with gluten-free (rice) flour. Of course, you can use wheat flour too, which in fact would make the rolling process a little easier, but I wanted to make sure that a gluten-free version was feasible, and even tasty.
Jerusalem Artichoke Gnocchi
2 cooked potatoes (about 10 oz)
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup Jerusalem artichoke flour
1 tsp. salt.
Mash the potatoes thoroughly. Add the eggs and beat or at least stir vigorously. Gradually add the flours and salt and mix until all the dry ingredients are blended in. Knead it a bit until it sticks together well.
Roll out about a lemon-sized bit of dough at a time into a rope, and cut the rope into pieces of about 3/4 of an inch.
Cook a few at a time in boiling water. When they come to the surface (it only takes about a minute) spoon them out with a slotted spoon.
To make the sauce, I heated a little oil and butter in a frying pan, added some onion or shallots, garlic, fresh thyme and sage, and after a couple of minutes added the cooked gnocchi and fried until the gnocchi were lightly browned.
Any other pasta sauce would work well. They would be good I think with either a tomato or cream sauce with lots of herbs, olives, cheese etc.
I served mine with crusted squash slices, based on a recipe I used from Yotam Ottolenghi, which he calls Crusted pumpkin wedges with sour cream. I made a few changes, which is why my picture looks different from his, i.e. much darker. For bread crumbs, I used purple bread, which is something I will explain in a future post, but if you don’t have any of that handy, just use bread crumbs of your choice. I also used powdered sumac instead of zest of 1 lemon, but in case you have run out of sumac, feel free to revert to the lemon.
For the squash, I used a peanut squash. This was the first year I grew that variety. I like it because its little peanut shapes all over the skin are amusing, but you can use any kind of squash you like.
Another variation on Ottolenghi’s recipe is that I had some corn husks on hand instead of aluminum foil. He recommends that if the crust starts to get overcooked before the squash is done, place some foil on it. Without wanting to sound too sanctimonious, I do not like using aluminum, so I have frozen some steamed corn husks for purposes such as this. They are compostable, water-proof, and free. However, there was no need for it after all, but I just wanted to share this tip with you. You could use, should you have them, any non-toxic leaf, such as grape leaves.
Recipe for crusted squash
1 1/2 lbs squash, skin on
1/2 cup grated parmesan
3 Tbsp dried breadcrumbs
6 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 1/2 tsp finely chopped thyme
1 Tbsp sumac powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and white pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut the squash into 3/8 in. thick slice and lay them on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment.
Mix together the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme, sumac, garlic, salt and pepper.
Brush the squash generously with olive oil and sprinkle with the crust mix, making sure the slices are covered with a nice, thick coating. Gently pat the mix down a little.
Place the pan in the oven and roast for about 30 min, or until the squash is tender.
I served the gnocchi on a bed of steamed malva and dandelion leaves, taking advantage of the last days I was able to pick greens from the garden. By tomorrow, they will all be covered in the white stuff according to the weather forecast. To accompany the squash, I mixed fresh chopped dill with plain yoghurt instead of sour cream.