Oven-baked Squash Gnocchi with Sun-dried Tomato, Fennel and Spinach Pistou

Lee Watson

Vegan squash gnocci

Making gnocchi with coloured vegetables makes brilliant sense. Any quite starchy root works well: parsnip, sweet potato, purple potatoes, cassava, pumpkin . . . But the vivid orange of squash really electrifies the plate (and the palate). With its vibrant oranges, reds and greens, this dish is a feast for the eyes as well as the belly!

Gluten-free option: use chickpea flour or potato flour instead of wheat flour.

  1. 1 large squash, about 1.5kg (the more starchy varieties of summer squash are best, such as butternut) peeled and cut into rough chunks olive oil, for roasting
  2. a little sea salt
  3. 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced lengthways
  4. 240g firm tofu, well drained
  5. 300g unbleached white flour, sifted
  6. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  7. ½ teaspoon white pepper
  8. 1½ teaspoons dried sage
  9. 2 big handfuls of sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  10. 1x spinach pistou
  11. For the topping:
  12. 2 tablespoons roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Serves 4 – 6.

First make the spinach pistou (even better if you can make it the day before). Pistou is a Provencal version of Pesto – much lighter, without the cheese and pine nuts.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.

  • Place the squash on an oiled baking tray. Rub a little oil and salt over it and bake for 30 minutes, turning the pieces gently over once. You’re not looking for loads of colour here, just lovely soft, golden squash.
  • Toss the fennel in olive oil, place on a separate baking tray and scatter with a pinch of sea salt. Bake for 30 minutes, turning once, until it’s nicely golden and sweet. When the squash is ready, put it into a processor with the tofu and blend until smooth. Now, place in a large bowl and stir in the flour, salt, pepper and sage until a soft dough forms. Leave to cool down and firm up – it will be a lot easier to handle.
  • Using two teaspoons, make gnocchi shapes (lovely little flat oval dumplings) with the mixture and place on an oiled baking sheet, leaving about 5cm of space for each gnocchi to grow. Brush the gnocchi with a little more oil and bake for 20–25 minutes, until crisp and slightly golden.
  • Serve the gnocchi warm, on nice big plates, drizzled liberally with the pistou. Scatter the crispy fennel and sun-dried tomatoes on top with a little more pistou, and finish with some chopped roasted hazelnuts.

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