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Best of both seasons in sheet-pan meal

Recipe: Butternut squash plus tomatoes plus gnocchi for the win

Potato gnocchi roasted with vegetables and sausage makes an easy one-pan meal.

Potato gnocchi roasted with vegetables and sausage makes an easy one-pan meal.

Kathy Morrison

So it’s cool enough to cook dinner in the oven, but still nice enough that I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. Garden things to do outside, you know.

The solution: A sheet-pan meal, in which all the ingredients roast together in the oven.

This dish is a riff on a recipe from thekitchn.com. Substitutions are easy: I had Juliet tomatoes but no mushrooms, so into the pan they went. Broccoli cut small would work or green beans or whatever, but don’t forget to include onions.

Gnocchi cooked in the oven is far superior in flavor and texture to boiled gnocchi. It puffs up and gets just a bit crispy – delightful.

Sheet pan gnocchi with vegetables and sausage

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Bowl of gnocchi with red onion half, several small tomatoes and a butternut squash
The tomatoes are optional.

1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks

1 small or ½ large red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks

8 ounces mushrooms, quartered, or 8-12 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes 

1 package (1 pound or more) shelf-stable potato gnocchi

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

8 to 16 ounces uncooked hot or sweet Italian sausage, in casings or bulk

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions:

Arrange two oven racks to split the oven into thirds. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

On a large rimmed baking pan, combine the butternut chunks, the onion and the mushrooms or tomatoes (or use both!). Sprinkle the rosemary over the vegetables, and add the gnocchi to the pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the pan, then sprinkle with about ½ teaspoon of salt and grinding of black pepper. Toss to coat. 

Remove the sausage from its casings and drop bite-size chunks of it all over the vegetables and gnocchi.

Gnocchi and veggies on sheet pan
Gnocchi and veggies are the first layer.

Place the sheet pan on the lower rack of the oven. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring after about 15 minutes. The sausage should be cooked through, the gnocchi plumped and the butternut chunks tender.

Move the sheet pan to the upper rack and broil on High until the gnocchi are lightly brown and crisp. This happens quickly, about 3 minutes, so don’t walk away.

Serve in large bowls and topped with grated Parmesan, if desired. A salad and a glass of zinfandel are perfect accompaniments.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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