Recipe: Butternut and Parmesan gnocchi with sweetcorn chowder
PUBLISHED: 15:57 05 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:18 05 October 2020
At the weekend I hosted a socially distanced lunch for three friends in the summerhouse my husband (handily) put up at the height of lockdown. It was, if you like, a makeshift restaurant. Only there was no flooring (as yet), the tablecloth was creased, music came via Mr J’s grotty work radio, the only choice of drink was sangria, oh, and it was blowing a flipping gale outside.
It doesn’t sound like the height of sophistication, but when you’re entertaining friends (and who knows how much longer we’ll be able to do so), they/you shouldn’t be worrying about table decorations, and fancy pants food. It’s about the company. In this case, four frazzled mothers who’d recently shipped their kids back to school.
There was homemade pizza for mains. A honey and lemon treacle tart with thyme roasted peaches for pud. And, to begin, feeling my mates could all do with a bit of love, a more luxurious starter than usual. In fact, we rarely have a starter at our get togethers, unless you count a giant bowl of crisps.
Sweetcorn is abundant at the moment, and its sunshiny kernels provided a last glimpse of summer, delivering, in a creamy chowder, a much-needed gastronomic hug. On top were fat Italian potato dumplings, perked up with butternut and lavish with Parmesan. Finishing flourishes of a Parmesan crisp, crunchy seeds and pungent spring onion oil all made it an impactful, tasty bowl (if I do say so myself), that had a hint of cheese and onion crisps about it...not so far away from our ‘usual’ at all then.
While it looks like quite a list of ingredients, you’ll likely have many of the components for this kicking around in the cupboard or fridge. A large drained tin of supermarket sweetcorn will do the trick if you can’t get hold of fresh. And if you can’t be bothered to make the spring onion oil, substitute with garlic oil.
Butternut gnocchi with sweetcorn chowder
(serves 6 as a starter or 4 as a light lunch/main course)
For the gnocchi:
275g butternut squash peeled and seeded but left whole
950g roasting potatoes, skins on
100g grated Parmesan
100g plain flour
Seasoning to taste
Pinch ground nutmeg
Oil for cooking
For the chowder:
1 large onion, finely chopped
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4 cobs of corn, removing the flesh from the cob
1 clove garlic, crushed
300g potato, peeled and roughly chopped
500ml vegetable stock
3tbsps thick double cream
Oil for frying
For the spring onion oil- or substitute for garlic oil:
1 bunch spring onions, cleaned and roughly chopped
Light olive or rapeseed oil
50g grated Parmesan
2tbsps pumpkin seeds, toasted
I’d begin the day before. Pop the butternut and potatoes on a large tray and roast at 200C for about 35-40 minutes until a knife pushes through easily. Allow to cool. I often do this before I go to bed and leave the potatoes out on the side overnight.
On the day of cooking for the chowder place about 1tbsp oil in a saucepan and saute the onion over a low heat until very soft but not coloured. Add the corn, garlic, potato and stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool then add the cream and process in a blender until smooth (or a little chunky if you like it that way). Season to taste and set aside until you’re ready to eat.
For the gnocchi remove the flesh from the potato skins and crush alongside the butternut with a masher or potato ricer until smooth into a large bowl. Add the other ingredients and knead to a dough. Cut the dough into three pieces. Take one and on a lightly floured surface roll it out to a 3cms wide long sausage shape. Cut 1cm pieces from the ‘sausage’ and press the tines of a fork on each piece gently to get the pattern. Place the gnocchi on a lined tray as you go.
Prepare the garnishes. Line a baking tray and sprinkle the Parmesan onto it in four piles. Pop under the grill and toast until golden and melted. Allow to cool.
Pop the spring onions in a blender with a couple of pinches of seasoning and blitz, gradually adding oil until you get a thickish, mayonnaise-consistency paste.
To serve. Warm through your chowder gently. Heat a frying pan and brush with a little oil. Pan fry the gnocchi, a few at a time, turning after about 30 seconds until golden on each side. You can transfer them to a tray and keep in a low oven while preparing the rest to keep them warm.
Dish up a little chowder into each bowl, topping with the gnocchi, a sprinkle of toasted seeds, a Parmesan crisp and a trickle of spring onion oil.
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