This week the temperatures have been warm again and I’ve been out enjoying the last bits of sunshine. Since we had so much prep at the start of the year just to get our garden usable, there were a lot of spring and summer crops we missed out on. Because of this I’ve been trying to extend the season using our greenhouse, where our tomatoes and peppers are mature but still green. It’s pretty common at this point in the year for gardeners to basically give in, harvesting their bounty then closing the garden down for the winter. That isn’t me.
I‘m determined to reach a point where we able to eat something from my garden every day of the year. Yes, this does mean preserving our food, but it’s also about growing for all the seasons. Succession planting of crops is something I’ve been learning a lot about and it makes total sense, avoiding the sudden glut that results in either more chutneys than you could ever use or fruit rotting on the vines. Neither of these is a particularly appealing prospect.
I’ve started a late sewing of some summer and autumn seeds such as herbs, carrots, radishes and beets, as our first frost shouldn’t come until December. Along with these we‘re also giving over much of our outdoor beds to kales, cabbages, sprouts and all other ‘greens’ (although many of ours are purple!). Then we have the old fashioned British staples of potatoes and carrots - unusual varieties of course! We’ve even got our over wintering peas, beans and garlic in the ground ready for a super early crop next year. There’s something very cosy and comforting about knowing that, while we start to cosy up on the sofa with blankets in the evening, there will be little seedling working hard under the piles of fallen leaves.
Speaking of cosiness, nothing feels quite as cuddle-by-the-fire to me as something creamy, oven baked and a little stodgy. Gnocchi, chilli, creamy sauce, toasty sweet corn - the perfect combo!
Cheesy Chilli Corn Gnocchi
¼ cup butter of choice (I used a sunflower plant based vegan one)
2 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 chilli (as mild or hot as you like), chopped
½ a medium courgette/zucchini, halved & sliced
A handful of chopped kale
1 corn cob's worth of kernels, cut from fresh corn
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
A few fresh sage leaves
½ cup shaoxing wine or sherry
1½ tablespoons flour (I used whole spelt)
3 cups milk of choice (I used sweetened soy - if using an unsweetened milk, add ½ teaspoon sugar or sweetener)
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons soy sauce
500g (two servings) package of gnocchi
Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 220c (430f)
Heat half of the butter in an oven safe pan over a medium heat.
Fry the garlic and chilli until softened but not browned.
Add the the courgette, kale and corn.
Increase the heat and fry until slightly coloured.
Add the paprika and sage and fry for 30 seconds.
Pour over the rice wine and stir to deglaze the pan.
Once the wine has almost evaporated, reduce the heat to medium and stir in the flour.
After frying for another 30 seconds, very gradually add the milk, stirring vigorously. This needs to be done bit by bit to avoid a lumpy sauce.
Stir in the yeast and soy sauce and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the consistency of a good cream sauce.
Stir in the gnocchi and remove from the heat.
Dot the top with the rest of the butter and place the whole thing in the oven.
Bake until the top browns, around 20 minutes.