Gluten-Free Winter Squash Gnocchi

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November 23rd, 2015

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These gnocchi are one of my favorite fall dishes to make for company. The process of gnocchi-making is fun and gratifying, and the result is always a tasty, light and unmistakably autumnal crowd pleaser. These gnocchi are gluten-free (and can be vegan if ghee is substituted with coconut oil), with nutritious buckwheat flour and sweet winter squash acting as main ingredients. Even without eggs, these have a nice pillowy texture, thanks to the softness of pureed squash.

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The great thing about this recipe is that it can be interpreted and adapted based on the produce you have on hand. There is a variation on these gnocchi in The Vibrant Table, where I use beets and sweet potato in place of squash.
I went for the classic earthy combination of sage and squash for the herbal pairing here, which is hard to beat. I also like to serve these gnocchi alongside chimichurri, one of my favorite simple herb sauces.

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I like to make homemade sprouted buckwheat flour for this recipe, but you can also use store-bought flour, which is darker in color and has a slightly denser texture, but also a more distinct nutty flavor.

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I created this recipe as part of a healthy recipe package for Food & Wine online, see the detailed recipe here.


I want to take this opportunity to wish all U.S. readers a very Happy Thanksgiving and express my immense gratitude for your readership and support!
Here are a few Thanksgiving table ideas:
Sorghum Pilaf with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cranberries and Grapes
Warm Salad of Roasted Cauliflower, Grapes and Black Rice
Shaved Brussels Sprout, Pomegranate and Lentil Salad
Roasted Parsnip and Apple Soup with Radish Greens
Gingery Pear Rutabaga Handpies
Parsnip Cake with Candied Kumquats
Butternut Squash and Cranberry Cookies

Tags: buckwheat, gnocchi, kabocha, sage, squash

Squash Noodle Soup with Healing Turmeric-Ginger Broth, Roasted Carrots and Beluga Lentils

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November 4th, 2015


I recently came back from a short stay in NYC with Masha (older daughter and Golubka photographer), where I was happy to get a glimpse of autumn with its turning trees and crisp air. Fall is something I miss a lot after being a resident of almost seasonless Florida for so many years.

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All the falling leaves and a minor sniffle got me thinking about comforting soups, which are the best answer to being under the weather or any general cravings for warming, healing food.

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This soup is simple in preparation, but full of powerful flavors and anti-inflammatory properties. I started with a play on chicken noodle soup, the classic ‘get well’ food, by using roasted spaghetti squash in place of noodles and making a nutritious broth. The broth is infused with the best of the best – turmeric, ginger, garlic, lemongrass and plenty of lemon. The sweetness of roasted carrots balances out the tartness and spiciness of the broth. Puy lentils complete the soup with body and substance. If you can get your hands on kaffir lime leaves, which can be found frozen at Asian markets, do not hesitate to include them, you’ll be in for a real treat.

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I created this recipe as part of a healthy recipe package for Food & Wine online, see the detailed recipe here.

Tags: carrots, garlic, ginger, kaffir lime, lemon, lemongrass, lentils, soup, spaghetti squash, turmeric

Summer Vegetable Saute

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September 11th, 2015


It’s been a month since we came home from our stay in Russia. School is back in session (second grade for Paloma), and the vacation seems like a long gone dream. Now that we are all situated, I’m finally finding the time to talk about Sochi – the last stop of our trip, where we had a chance to fully relax.


I’ve been visiting Sochi every summer, with small breaks here and there, ever since I can first remember myself. My aunt and cousins have an old, wooden house there, built on the slope of a hill, dating all the way back to the 1940s. The narrow street, on which it stands, is shaded by dense growths of cypresses, palm and fruit trees, which are abundant all over the city. To me, Sochi is a magical place. There is something special about the mix of sweet mountain air and salty Black Sea breeze, tropical vegetation, clear and refreshing seawater, pebbled beaches and busy ethnic markets that surround one at all times. I can never can get enough.

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Last year’s winter Olympics brought about major updates to Sochi. The old house on the hill, however, remains the same. The city has been threatening to demolish that whole street for decades, as the houses there have seen their better days, but to our delight, the family house is still there, as welcoming as ever.

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Traditionally, generations of cats guard the house. They are tough and self-sufficient like street cats, but also social and friendly like house pets. Each one has a big personality, and all are treated with much respect. Paloma was in heaven, playing in the charming courtyard at the footsteps of the old garden surrounded by cats of all sizes, just like I had done as a kid. And although we live on the beach in Florida, Paloma can’t stop talking about Black Sea beaches, where she would not leave the water for longer than two minutes at a time, turning into quite the little mermaid.


I’ve talked about food from the Caucasus region last year here and here. The markets there supply a wealth of colorful pickles (pictured above on the yellow table), endless fermented dairy and pretty treats like churchkhela. Local cuisine is rich in herbs and spices, and the vegetables are commonly cooked and served whole, or in large chunks, as opposed to Russian cooking, which favors mincing and shredding everything very finely. In the summer, eggplant is present at any table, and there are hundreds of ways to prepare it. The most common and simple eggplant dish is a mixture of vegetables charred over open fire or hot coals, dressed with tons of fresh herbs and garlic. The dish is smoky and fresh at the same time. In the absence of open fire, the recipe below is an alternative way of showcasing eggplant and other summer vegetables in a vegetable dish to complete any table.


Summer Vegetable Saute

3-4 small eggplants – sliced lengthwise, 1/4-inch thickness
2-3 bell peppers – seeded and sliced lengthwise
1-2 onions – sliced lengthwise
about 7 small tomatoes or 2 cups cherry tomatoes
coconut oil or other vegetable oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper – to taste
3-4 cloves garlic – minced
good amount of fresh herbs – parsley, dill, basil, mint

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat and fry eggplant slices in batches, on both sides, until golden brown. Add oil as needed and sprinkle with salt and pepper as you go. Remove eggplant slices from the pan onto paper towels to absorb excess oil, set aside.
2. Saute peppers until soft, add salt to taste, set aside.
3. Saute onions until golden, add salt to taste, set aside.
4. Increase the heat to high. Add whole tomatoes to the pan. Let them sit for about 2 minutes, until they begin to  blister, stir and leave to sit for another 2 minutes or longer, until cooked through, but with a bite remaining. Add salt and pepper.
5. Arrange vegetables on a large platter. Top eggplant slices with onion and pepper, finish with tomatoes. Sprinkle with garlic and herbs, more salt and pepper, if desired. Alternatively, you can mix them in a bowl.

Tags: eggplant, pepper, side, tomato