Cheesy Vegan Pumpkin Gnocchi

A creamy vegetable-packed vegan ‘cheese’ sauce with just a handful of ingredients but eat-by-the-spoonful-delicious flavour.

Sometimes going about something with no or low expectations is the best you can do. Or at least that’s what I can say about this recipe. It’s one of those dishes you prepare without much thinking. Just adding some of this, some of that, and, oh, hey, that tastes really good.  Do you like to surprise yourself while cooking? I do. Unfortunately, some of these dishes aren’t a real eye candy, either, though, as is the case here. But I’ve said it before and will say it again: taste beats appearance.

There are one million recipes for mac and cheese out there and probably at least half as many vegan variations. Don’t make me guess the number of either using pumpkin, too. The combination of cheesy taste and pumpkin was clearly meant to be.

Pumpkin gnocchi

So I didn’t reinvent the wheel here – and you wouldn’t want me to because … is not my forte.  but since it was seriously delicious and we agreed that blogging is mostly for y ourself I’ll be completely honest with you: When I post recipes it’s not selflessly. No. Rather, I’ve come to realize I’m the one benefitting most. In other words: my blog has become my personalized cookbook
Way back I used to print out recipes I enjoyed or jot down measurements of dishes I created on loose sheets. All stuffed into a practical not pretty blue folder. Do I really need to tell you what happened?  Well, first it got completely overstuffed and I lost overview. And then I lost the whole folder when moving years ago. Awesome.

Pumpkin Gnocchi_2

That’s where blogging comes in handy. My WIAWs are often a collection of others’ recipes and how I liked them so I’ve made one or the other dish more than once already. And when I can’t quite remember all ingredients in a meal I created I can look through my recipes. Which actually happens on the regular but who am I to complain? You could probably call my blog my external hard disk. That’s actually what I jokingly referred my notebooks to be years ago. How times changes. And tastes of humor…

Pumpkin-cheesy gnocchi

Mine were in fact double-pumpkin because I bought a package of organic pumpkin gnocchi at the store. If you have some extra time on hand and feel fancy you could obviously make your own gnocchi but I was happy to find these sketchy-ingredient-free storebought ones.

Cheesy Vegan Pumpkin Gnocchi

A serving of storebought gnocchi [I used 125 g/ 4.5 oz ]*
1 cup of cauliflower, chopped into florets
3/4 cup of butternut squash, chopped**
about 1/4 cup of unsweetened non-dairy milk
3/4 to 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp onion powder***
a pinch of garlic powder
Salt and pepper

1/4 cup green peas
Cherry tomatoes

Prepare the gnocchi according to package directions but when you drain it, reserve the cooking liquid.

Put the cauliflower and butternut squash into a small saucepan and add water until they’re just covered. Boil until soft. I usually just bring the water to a boil, then turn off the stove and let it cook for a few minutes.

Blend the vegetables with the remaining sauce ingredients. Put the sauce back onto the stove and let thicken a little.

Add the gnocchi, peas and cherry tomatoes to the sauce and heat through. Serve with a generous amount of parsley sprinkled on top or mixed in.


* This dish is gluten-free if using a gluten-free variety of gnocchi. A quick search brought up brands like DeLallo and Aurora for those of you living overseas.

* *You could sub another type of winter squash like kabocha.

**If you’re German you might be skeptical of the onion powder in the ingredient list. Or at least if – like me – you grew up clueless of its existence. But trust me it’s what makes this dish. Without it the sauce doesn’t have that ‘authentic’ [and in this case: delicious] boxed mix taste.

Maybe you already know I’m not one to claim authenticity on my recipes. Growing up in Germany I’ve never had either the infamous blue box nor the homemade mac ‘n’ cheese variety [unless ‘Nudeln mit Käsesauce’ is the same but just a less snazzy way of saying it]. But what I know for a fact is that it’s seriously good in its own right – and that’s all that matters to me.

Authentic or not I’m convinced a good recipe pleases everyone so I’m joining the celebrations of deliciousness via Laura, Kierston, Tasty Tuesdays#FoodieFridayReal Food Wednesday, Recipe of the Week, Allergy-free Wednesday, the Real Food Recipe Roundup, Gluten-Free Wednesdays and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Happiness inducing today: Turning around a corner and squinting because of the sudden intensity of the sunlight. Followed by a huge smile on my face.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living



Did you grow up eating the blue box? A homemade variety? Or mac ‘n’ cheese-less?

Were peas a typical childhood food for you? In which combinations? Clearly carrots, peas and the occasional kohlrabi [still not a fan], sometimes in a bechamel-type sauce were my mum’s favourite way of getting us to eat them. Usually alongside homemade ‘Frikadellen’ [think burgers but without the bun] and potatoes.

Simply perfect [Brussels Sprout Chili with Cauliflower Couscous]

There are recipes that come together on a whim and are so simply they hardly seem worthy calling a recipe. However, when thinking about the type of recipes I prefer on other blogs and in cookbooks it’s actually just this kind that I’m most likely to try. Yes, the fancy stew that calls for roasting vegetables, at the same time multitasking the homemade vegetable broth on the stove and baking your own biscuits to go along with it is tempting.

Giant white bean chili

Taking it away right here: this recipe isn’t anything like that. Let’s be honest: who has the time and patience for a dish that takes more than twice as long to prepare as eating it does? At least on a weekday afternoon or night? If you need any more convincing of how easy and fast this is the day I first tried this I had just come home ready to chew my arm off. Granted, there may or may not have been a spoonful of peanut butter and some cereal to tide me over while the chili cooked on the stove. But it still isn’t too much work to whip up on a weekday – and even less if you’re doubling the serving size.


Don’t be surprised by the random odds and ends coming together in this dish. It’s just what happens when I’m working on another produce stash that has grown into large dimensions without me noticing. And sooner than I’d like I’m faced with the task of using them up as soon as humanly possible. Or sooner.

Chili VI

When deciding what to have for lunch I knew I wanted creaminess but also a tomato-y element. Out of soy creamer I knew tomato sauce alone wasn’t going to satisfy and when I spotted the tiny remainder of butternut squash in my fridge it seemed worth a try. And it was a good try.

Brussels Sprout Chili with Cauliflower Couscous

  • ½ cup passata/tomato sauce
  • ½ cup cubed butternut squash
  • 1 heaped tbsp of salsa
  • 1/2 cup [100 g] kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup [50 g] giant white beans
  • A handful of Brussels sprouts, washed, outer layers removed and sliced thinly into disks
  • 1 cup [100 g] cauliflower
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dark cocoa powder

1. Heat the passata in a pot over medium heat with the cayenne pepper and oregano.

2. Add the butternut squash and let simmer until it is tender.

3. Blend the butternut squash and passata to create a thick sauce. Add about 1/4 cup of water if it’s too thick. You’ll want it to be more saucy than like a stew before you add the beans and Brussels sprouts. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the salsa.

4. Meanwhile, process the cauliflower in a food processor until it reaches couscous/rice consistency.

5. Add the cauliflower couscous to the chili. You might need to add some more water at this point as the ‘couscous’ absorbs some of it. Cook for about 2-3 more minutes so the cauliflower softens slightly.

6. Stir in the cocoa powder, add salt and pepper and adjust seasonings to taste. It tastes best when left to sit for a while before serving to let the flavours mingle a little.

Serve whichever way you like to eat your chili. I enjoy adding a dollop of plain soy yogurt on top and a spoonful of peanut butter mixed in.


Because I hope others agree there can never be enough easy and quick recipes in my opinion I’m linking up with Laura, Kierston, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays and Wellness Weekends. Head over to all of them for even more meal inspiration.

Have a delicious and happy Friday!

Happiness inducing today: One of my articles for the newspaper being accepted right away – and it was even for the Sports department which really isn’t my specialty.

Keep in touch:
Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

What’s your favourite way to eat chili? With some crusty bread for dipping? Yogurt? Hot sauce?

Are you more intrigued to try simple or more involved recipes?

Getting flaky with phyllo [Balsamic Butternut & Kale Pastry for one]

Waste not, want not – that’s actually how my current obsession with phyllo dough pastries started. In an effort to use up the leftover sheets of dough from making the Kale Surprise Pastry Pie for our family dinner.  While the pie was really delicious I wasn’t fond of preparing the same dish already again and having to eat it for several days in a row. Fingers crossed I got experimenting once more despite not feeling the creative juices flowing that day – and was positively surprised.*

*That’s not to say I expected an awful result but I just wasn’t ‘feeling’ the phyllo that particular day. Okay, that and the fact I came up with some unsatisfying lunches in previous years.


Unlike recipes puff pastry which – who would I kid here – is fantastic in all its buttery, rich glory this dish will leave you satisfied not stuffed. Phyllo dough steps in as a beautiful replacement delivering the flaky, crispy and, well, doughy element while not sitting heavy on your stomach afterwards. There’s a time and place for that, too [think Christmas dinner]. But if I plan on doing anything just slightly more active than turning over book pages while lying on the sofa within the next hours after a meal puff pastry might not the best choice.


Phyllo is where it’s at then. The best part of this kind of dish is its versatility: sub the butternut for another kind of squash or carrots, the kale for spinach, kidney beans for chickpeas … you name it. Or go for a completely different filling using whichever leftovers you have. Let your imagination go wild 🙂 – and then come back and tell me which amazing variations you’ve created.

dished up

Treating ourselves is an important part of self-care and while I’m all about finding ways beside food it’s nice to have this easy everyday route, too. The pastry is simple and quick enough to prepare on a weekday but feels almost like eating at a fancy bistro. It’s a way to make an ordinary day feel just that smidgen more special.

 Balsamic Butternut & Kale Pastry [serves one]

  • 1 sheet phyllo dough [see note below]
  • 1 small red onion, diced finely
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup of kale, sliced into thin strips
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp of soy cream [I used Alpro Soya brand]
  • ¼ cup kidney beans
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Sauté the onion in a small pot until translucent. Add the garlic and stir-fry until fragrant.
  2. Add the butternut squash and a few tablespoons of water. Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium. Let the squash simmer until tender.
  3. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, thyme and cayenne pepper. Mix in the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the kale, letting it wilt.
  5. Stir in the 1/4 cup of soy cream, kidney beans and season with salt and pepper to taste. Readjust spices to taste, too.
  6. When the filling is assemble your phyllo dough like shown in the second picture, add the vegetable mixture and cover with the overlapping edges of the dough. Brush the top with the remaining tablespoon of non-dairy cream.
  7. Bake the pastry in the preheated oven [350 °F] for about 20 minutes.

Phyllo pastry


Keep the phyllo dough in the freezer until ready to move. I’ve found it dries out quickly when exposed to air so wait until your filling’s done to assemble it in the casserole dish.

I’m linking up with Recipe Friday and Strange but good so get even more inspiration over there.

Not a math pro at all I hope I counted out your votes on Wednesday correctly by posting the pastry recipe first. Even if you didn’t vote for it I know you will like it. Because I say you do ;).

Happiness inducing today: Leaving work tired but content after a busy day.

Tell me your favourite pastry fillings or – if you didn’t have pastries before: what would you fill them with?

Have you worked with phyllo dough before?

Random Friday question: What are your plans for the weekend?

WIAW – fully baked [butternut, bars and pastries]

Wow, can I just say: WIAW?! It’s no secret what WIAW actually stands for. However, today it feels more like “Wait, it’s already Wednesday?!” to me. Time has flown by at lightning speed since last week. I won’t deny I enjoy seeing everybody’s latest culinary concoctions and get some meal inspiration. But I’ll admit there’s a slight pressure when looking through the photos I took since the last WIAW and feeling like there weren’t enough. Or if there are several then I might decide there aren’t enough good or interesting ones. Blogger problems?!  But good or bad, boring or interesting – as long as I keep showing some veggies I hope Jenn will approve. When it’s cold outside turning on the oven for deliciousness and additional warmth is totally necessary so here’s to a fully baked edition of What I ate Wednesday. Baked deliciousness in abundance.


Can we talk food obsessions for a bit? Ever since we had the Kale Pastry as a family dinner I’ve [re-]discovered the awesomeness of phyllo dough. Not to celebrate every tiny step on my path in recovery but this is another fear food overcome. I’d been eschewing any kind of pastry seeing it as unneccessary non-nutritious and not saturating calories. While I’d also argue the ‘not saturating’ label I can definitely say these are satisfying. There’s just something about flaky, crispy and slightly buttery pastry enasing whichever filling one chooses. This particular version was different from the original one but just as delicious. [Recipe coming soon.]

Phyllo pastry

Sometimes enjoying your veggies just a little too much can become a problem, too. Like when you can’t for the sake of it decide what to prepare for lunch on an unexpected day off from work with too much time on your hands. The choices, the choices … After countless nibbles on this and that, pulling my hair and the clock inexorably exceeding the ‘usual’ lunch time I finally settled on getting wild with some random cravings and loosely basing my dish on a recipe I’d seen at another blog at some time.


Luckily, fate was on my side and the dish turned out really good. It probably didn’t hold up as well as I’d hoped for but – as usual – taste beats appearance. Think butternut squash layered with Mexican-spiced kidney bean mix and baked with a vegan cheese sauce. Firm yet tender butternut squash, spicy beans and mild cheesy sauce it was another winning composition of different textures and tastes. I might not be an actual cheese fiend but I’m not exaggerating when I say vegan cheesiness has become a very regular in my meals. [Recipe for this dish also coming soon – I’d appreciate your input in which one to post first because I clearly can’t decide.]

baking pan

Knowing I hadn’t seen any newness in the snack department for a while, either, I decided to kill two birds with one stone [does anybody know a more vegetarian-friendly way of saying that 🙂 ??]. Just like in other parts of life I’m a creature of habit when it comes to snacks: why change a good thing. However, I’ve also noticed I tend to use this as an ‘excuse’ to stray from my usual and challenge myself with new foods. Second was the fact that like when it comes to actually trying recipes from my Pinterest board there are just as many recipes I see on other blogs and never get around making. All change starts with the first step so here’s mine: Amanda’s soft & chewy oatmeal bars.

Amanda's_oatmeal bars

The above is what you end up with when you run out of chocolate chips [who does that?] and have to sub chocolate shavings. Because you need a quick add-in and chopping up a bar of chocolate would take too long. Nevertheless, the bars are a delicious snack and – being generally fond of them in baked goods or bread – I really liked to see flaxseed in the recipe. Obviously adding the desired chewiness but also a special texture and nutty taste that I enjoy a lot. Even as a child I’d secretly [or not so secretly?] pick the flaxseed from the crust of the fresh locally baked whole-wheat bread my mum bought. She still does and I still occasionally pick but I’ve obviously stopped the bad habit. Clearly ;). Some things never change.

Happy Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today: My grandparents stopping by for a short visit.


What’s one of your recent food obsessions?

Are you a fan of snacks bars? What are your favourites [whether homemade or store-bought]?