Welcome 2018. This morning I woke up in our little apartment in Seattle to darkness. Being a bit jet lagged after a lovely holiday on the East Coast with my family I walked sleepily into the kitchen, and through the window there it was; an almost full moon setting over the crest of the Olympic mountains. It was breathtaking, beautiful, and oh so symbolic. As I watched the moon vanish behind the peaks I thought of things I would like set with it and leave behind in 2017; expectations, indecisiveness, and self doubt. As the pink dawn broke I thought of all the things I would like to welcome in this new year; joy, presence, gratitude.
To me it has always made sense that in order to let go of certain things in life, the space they leave behind should be filled with something else, something better, something nourishing. This is particularly true when it comes to our food. For example strict “no” diets such as “no sugar” or “no carbs” are often frustrating because they only focus on taking away, which can leave us feeling empty and unbalanced. Thus why I have a bit of an issue with extreme New Years resolutions that are all about eliminating and nothing about contributing. What we really need, in our diets and life, is more good stuff.
What if this was the year of more? More flavorful veggies, more celebration, more home cooked meals, more creativity, more decadence, more simplicity, more sumptuous fruits, more trips to the farmer’s market, more kindness, more time spent outdoors, more tea, more travel, more music? More of anything that makes you smile, sigh, giggle, and forget about your phone for a few moments.
So here’s to a year of being fully present and alive. Let’s kick it off with sweet potato gnocchi and kale bathed in browned butter and sage, shall we? This time of year as snow blankets the gardens and farms of the Northern Hemisphere, it’s easy to mistake this season for a veggie wasteland, but looks can be deceiving.
For starters there’s kale. It actually gets sweeter after the leaves have been kissed by frost. Then there’s sweet potatoes, these tubers are harvested in Autumn to nourish us all winter long. In this dish the pungent leafiness of the kale pairs perfectly with mellow earthiness of the sweet potatoes. They are both bursting with immune boosting nutrients such as Vitamin A & K to keep us healthy in the depths of winter. Although when you eat this dish you won’t be thinking of it’s nutritional content, you’ll be too engulfed in flavor and too busy marveling at your new found prowess as a gourmet Italian chef.Gnocchi is a bit of a labor of love. These little fluffy potato pillows are easier than you might think (and this is coming from someone who once thought gnocchi was exclusively a “restaurant food”) they just require a bit of time in your kitchen. So pour yourself a glass of red wine, put on some music, dance around your kitchen, and embrace the year of more!
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Kale
- 2 to 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 bunch of kale leaves, de-stemmed and torn into small pieces
- 6 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp cup heavy cream
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 6 or 7 sage leaves
- 1/4 cup parmesan
- 1 tsp salt
- Bake sweet potatoes at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until easily pierced by fork.
- Allow to cool completely, cut in half and scoop out flesh.
- Combine sweet potato, ricotta, & salt thoroughly, using a fork or the back of a spoon press down on the sweet potato mixture until smooth.
- Adding half a cup of flour at a time, begin to gently knead the dough.
- Once the dough comes together in a ball place it on a lightly floured work surface.
- Using a pastry cutter or knife cut off a slice of the dough as if you were cutting into a loaf of bread.
- With your hands roll out the dough until is is long, skinny, and rope like.
- Cut the dough into 1 inch pieces and gently press the gnocchi across the broad side of a fork to create indents.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook gnocchi like regular pasta until they float, this means they are ready! Set gnocchi aside on a plate lined with a paper towel.
- In a saucepan melt butter on medium low heat until liquid, add garlic and saute for a few minutes until the garlic is fragrant, then add sage and salt, saute for another minute.
- Add heavy cream, allow to simmer for a few minutes.
- Continue to simmer for a few more minutes until sauce thickens.
- Add kale to sauce, stir for about a minute or until softened.
- Add gnocchi to sauce and allow to cook for about two more minutes to allow gnocchi to reheat and soak up all that delicious sauce.