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Eating To The Tune Of Mother Nature

Staying connected and in-tune with our bodies within the world around us can be achieved by following the law of nature and its elements. Staying in-tune with the seasons offers us an ability to mimic these characteristics into our own lives and reap the benefits Mother Nature intended for us. Here are 4 seasonal recipes (I'll add these one at a time to the post) and your how-to-guide to move with the seasons.

AUTUMN

Once autumn arrives the downward shift occurs; the light lessens, days grow shorter, and energy descends back into the earth for the dormant cycle. We revert back to our kitchens for heartier meals and we find ourselves searching the back of the cupboards for lentils and other grains as our bodies call out for the starchy, more filling foods.

SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI WITH WALNUT PESTO & SAGE

Serves 4

Ingredients
For the walnut pesto

  • 400g (14oz/4 cups) fresh, shelled walnuts or raw ready-shelled walnuts if unavailable
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

For the gnocchi

  • 200g (7oz) boiled sweet potatoes, pureed
  • 300g (11oz/11⁄4 cups) chestnut puree
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 250g (9oz/2 cups) chestnut flour (or buckwheat flour if unavailable)
  • 2 eggs
  • Rice flour, for dusting

For the topping

  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs of sage
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Method

  1. To make the walnut pesto, preheat oven to 170°C fan/375°F/Gas 5.
  2. Place the shelled walnuts onto a baking tray (baking sheet) and roast in the oven until just golden. This should take 4–5 minutes. Remove from the oven and wrap the walnuts in a clean tea towel (dishcloth) and rub them together to remove their skins.
  3. Place the walnuts into a food processor along with the garlic, oil and salt and blend until smooth, adding a little more oil if needed to make a thick pouring consistency.
  4. Now make the gnocchi. Using the dough hook of your food processor, blend the sweet potato and chestnut purees, until combined, then add salt, nutmeg and a little of the chestnut flour at a time. Add the eggs, one at a time and process until dough is formed. The dough should be soft and elastic. If the dough is too sticky or dry add a little water or flour. (You can also mix it with a wooden spoon in a large bowl.)
  5. Divide the dough into 6 even portions. Wrap in Clingfilm (plastic wrap) and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the refrigerator and knead gently on a surface dusted with rice flour. Roll the dough into long, thin cylinders, about 1cm (1⁄2in) thick, then cut the cylinders into 2cm (3⁄4in) pieces. Roll each piece in rice flour, shaking off any excess. Now roll the pieces over a gnocchi board or press with a fork.
  7. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and add half of the gnocchi. In about 5–8 minutes, when the gnocchi have started to float to the top, cook them for a further minute. Remove to a plate using a slotted spoon and repeat the process with the second batch of gnocchi.
  8. Coat the gnocchi in the walnut pesto and spoon into warmed shallow serving bowls with a drizzle of olive oil.
  9. Quickly heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and add the sage leaves once the oil is very hot. The sage leaves should crisp and go bright green quickly. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
  10. Serve over the gnocchi.

WINTER

Winter is the dormant season, when all life force burrows deep into the bosom of the earth. It is a good time to reflect and replenish so that when spring comes, the gathering energy will burst forth with new growth. The cold weather makes us crave our own sense of internal heating and therefore we reach for warming spices and hot, cosy meals.

COCONUT CURRY PUMPKIN SOUP

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 650g pumpkin, chopped into large chunks with skin and seeds removed
  • 4 tbsp cold-pressed coconut oil
  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, de-skinned
  • 1 stem lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Place the pumpkin chunks onto the prepared baking tray and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until tender and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. Now sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large saucepan, over a medium heat. Cook until soft and translucent. Then add garlic cloves, lemongrass, curry paste and ginger. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.
  5. Now add the pumpkin and mix everything together. Break the pumpkin pieces down with a wooden spoon but before things start sticking to the bottom of the saucepan, add the vegetable stock. Allow the soup to come back to the boil and then remove from the heat. Allow the soup to cool for 5-10 minutes and then add the coconut milk, maple syrup and lime juice.
  6. Using a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.


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