Two meat-free meals today, for a change. Gnocchi are potato-based pasta and there are a lot of good shop bought types available these days. If you cannot get a pumpkin, use butternut squash. The goat’s cheese adds a nice creaminess to the gnocchi. I was in Co Cork recently and visited Ardsallagh Farmhouse Cheese, another great family business. St Tola, made in Ennistymon, Co Clare, is another delicious one.

Balsamic vinegar is one of my cupboard essentials and Simply Better have a delicious three-year-old available which is made in Modena, Italy. Car enthusiasts among you will know that is also the home of Ferrari. When we were filming there, I had the thrill of being driven around a track in Maranello at speed by a professional driver – and then was allowed to do a few laps myself. My one and only time in a Ferrari, and it was very memorable.

Puy lentils are grown in Puy in Central France, and they are a favourite of mine. The aubergine is like a sponge and absorbs flavours. Aubergines are not as salty as they used to be. Feta cheese gives this a lovely saltiness. You could serve this lentil bake with couscous or bulgur wheat.

Happy Cooking,


Pumpkin and gnocchi bake with goat’s cheese

Serves four

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

4 tsp balsamic vinegar

4 tsp honey

½ tsp chilli flakes

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 small pumpkin, peeled, seeded and diced (you’ll need about 675g)

1 x 500g packet of gnocchi

3 small red onions, cut into wedges

225g shredded kale

1 x 125g log of goat’s cheese

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/gas mark 7).

2 Put the oil in a small bowl with the balsamic vinegar, honey, chilli, garlic and thyme. Season generously and whisk to combine. Tip the pumpkin, gnocchi and red onions into a large roasting tin and drizzle over most of the oil, reserving about a tablespoon. Toss until evenly combined, then spread out in an even layer in the tin and roast for 20 minutes.

3 Toss the kale in the remaining oil and use your hands to massage and wilt down slightly. Remove the tin from the oven and give everything a good toss to ensure it’s cooking evenly. Fold in the dressed kale, then roast for another four or five minutes, until the kale is starting to crisp up, the gnocchi are golden and the pumpkin is tender.

4 Crumble over the goat’s cheese, season with pepper and serve straight to the table.

Sweet Potato and Aubergine Puy Lentil Bake

Serves four

1 large aubergine, cut into 2cm chunks

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks (you’ll need 500g)

3 small onions, cut into wedges

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 x 400g tin of Puy lentils, drained

and rinsed

100g cherry tomatoes, halved

50g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained

and cut into strips

2 tsp sherry or red wine vinegar

100g feta cheese

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

40g wild rocket

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6).

2 Tip the aubergine, sweet potato and onions into a large roasting tin. Sprinkle over the smoked paprika and season generously, then scatter over the thyme and drizzle with the oil. Using your hands, mix until everything is evenly combined. Roast for 20 minutes.

3 Remove the roasting tin from the oven and fold in the lentils, cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. Roast for another 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have started to break down and everything is piping hot.

4 Drizzle over the vinegar and crumble the feta cheese on top. Scatter over the pine nuts and rocket, then serve straight to the table.

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