Guest Post – Erin makes magic with spinach!

Today I have asked my sister Erin, to write a post for me. She is a mad genius cook, vegetarian and very good gardener! She lives in the country with her hubby and son and is on the same sugar-free health kick as me. Take it away Erin!

 

I love cooking and I love gardening and growing vegetables. Oddly though when it comes to combining these two things I have been known to get a big fat ‘F’ for fail.spinach

My husband and I have been steadily producing delicious vegetables for five years yet only occasionally did these tenderly cared for delicacies make it on our plates. This must sound very odd, but quite often we would give the produce away or compost it, for us, the love of planting and growing things successfully outweighed our desire to actually make use of it – weird huh?! Combined with this I have always been a cook that cooks by tummy-desire not by what’s at hand, or in this case in the veggie patch, very unsustainable and naughty of me really.

About a year ago I decided that I had to stop being ‘home-grown lazy’ and get into preserving, freezing, saucing and seasonal cooking, and oh how happy it has made me! Chilli and balsamic onion jams, bags of broccoli, beans and cauliflower in the freezer, fresh corn soup, leek tarts, tomato everything, eggplant and squash curries, zucchini chocolate cakes, baked artichokes, the results have been bountiful and satisfying.

My sisters’ now bear the brunt of my ‘what I made from the veggie patch this week’ messaging and emails, in an attempt to not yabber on about it at playgroup, hockey, drinks and any other social occasion I am present at! finalSo that is why I am here, guest blogging about this week’s dinner – spinach, basil and ricotta gnocchi (ok I might have mentioned this one in the sandpit at playgroup!).

 

I have taken to buying fresh ricotta by the kilo as my son loves it and it adds lovely creaminess to a lot of dishes without the requirement of cream, shame really, I love cream. After a lovely spanakopita last week (it’s a spinach smack down around here at the moment) I was still hosting half a kilo of ricotta in my fridge that needed to be used, so finally I made the gnocchi I had been thinking about for ages.

I am an acknowledged recipe hoarder and food blog fanatic so I basically looked at about eight recipes and came up with this version for what was in the house and required the least amount of prep as it was late in the day.

– Eight huge leaves of home-grown fresh spinach – very finely chopped (no need to wilt)gnocchi

– Two or three stems of home-grown basil – leaves very finely chopped

– 400-500g fresh ricotta

– 1 tablespoon olive oil

– 2 lightly beaten eggs

– Approx 100g grated cheddar (I actually have no idea how much it was, I just grated what I thought looked good and added it)

– Half a cup of plain flour

– Salt and Pepper

Mix all of the ingredients and roll into gnocchi shaped balls, they should have a lovely light consistency and hold together easily. Leave to chill in the fridge and firm for about an hour (or four, whatever suits) before placing in boiling water. They will float when ready (about 2 minutes). This is seriously quick dinner.

I also had a pan on the go with asparagus, baby roma tomatoes, basil, olive oil, feta, a splash of gnocchi cooking water, the gnocchi once cooked, a knob of butter (I cant help myself, I like the gloss) and my other current favourite food from ‘the patch’ – beet leaves.

garden spinachBeet leaves are magic at the moment and completely a result of me not using my beetroot in season and sprouting new leaves after the lovely recent rain we have had. Oh how delicious these are when quickly sautéed in olive oil with some S&P.

So I always say the proof is in the carnivorous husband and toddler. My 16 month old (who hates spinach if discernible) gobbled this dinner up quick sticks and my husband even mentioned it again the following day. A winner all round and another use of my plentiful spinach, hurrah.

Now to my next home-grown cooking challenges – sixteen 15kg watermelons, nine pumpkins and a few thousand explosively hot chillies to use. Its going to be a busy weekend.

 

Thanks Erin, that sounds totally delicious and insanely easy to do! I totally think we should see more of you on the blog in future – who agrees?

 

Linley xx

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