Roasted Pepper, Sausage & Summer Squash Gnocchi

Things I love tonight:

A husband eating raw almonds for a midnight snack.

The sounds of guests inhabiting our guest room.

Sitting on the front porch as the day closes, phone warm against my ear with the voice of a dear friend on the line.

The intermittent sigh of sleeping cupie-dolls echoing in the hall.

Late night texts that say “We love you.”

Windows open for bedtime.

Shopping list hung on the refrigerator door.

Pulling a deep breath of air into wanton lungs. They’ve so missed summer.

I feel wistful and grateful tonight for a thousand non-reasons.

In preparation for summer vacation, we redecorated the kids rooms, hanging dozens of posters across their walls with sayings that remind them to “Think Big,” and remember that “Your character becomes your destiny.” One poster, hung just right of center on the wall struck me the most with its simplicity.

We are grateful.

How powerful it is to acknowledge in all times, at all places, the deep gratitude you have for even your humblest blessings. When you stop and say them, take time to speak them aloud, you can somehow lay deeper claim to them. They are more yours than ever before, because you have said the words. You have opened your mouth and paused your mind and taken hold of those fleeting pieces of perfection.

Several weeks ago, on a long and lazy bus ride across the farmlands of Monterey, California, I asked Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen about the overriding belief that governs her life.

“I believe in abundance,” she said. Her eyes smiled.

Last week, her words rang in my ears as I drove past a man, begging at the intersection of a local grocery store. He held a sign that said, “Family of Four. Anything helps.” I glanced away from him as I usually do. There are programs to help you, please go find a job, I whispered in his direction. I’ve heard a hundred times that help never actually helps a beggar. They spend it all on booze and drugs, say the officials.

But, there was a word on that sign that stuck with me. Family.

Family.

What if he really did have a family?

We have a family. And, more times than I’d like to count, we’ve been that family in need. The family worried about groceries. The family wondering if we’d make our mortgage payment. The family to be helped.

I reached for my purse, fumbled for a dollar bill. There was only one. A dollar.

Not enough, I decided. And so turned the car around and decided to run into the store and grab five dollars. But, once in the store, I realized a gift card for groceries might ensure the money was spent on what it was intended for. So, I grabbed instead a Kroger card and headed to checkout. I could spare $10 for groceries. Maybe $20. Yes, twenty would help more, I reasoned.

And then. Jaden’s voice reminded me “I believe in abundance.”

I thought of how abundantly blessed we have been in recent months. A reader noted this week that there’s been an increase of sponsored posts on Cheeky Kitchen. There have been. This little hobby of mine is turning into a blessed adventure…and business venture. What a gift it has always been. But now, it can become a gift. We have enough to spare, I thought. We have been so abundantly blessed.

There was the buzz of a new idea. A fifty dollar gift card. Yes, that was right. I don’t know why it was right, but the humming of my heart said it was so.

I asked for it, payed for it, wrote “May You Be Blessed” on it. Then, hopped in the car and drove back to where that man was standing. That family man.

I passed the card through the window. He nodded. I drove off.

As I turned the corner, I heard him scream, “Oh! Oh! My god!”

I smiled with my eyes.

Abundance,  gratitude, things to love. There are so many of them. I don’t always remember. I don’t always get it right. But, for the moments when the voice of a beautiful friend, a poster, the crunch of almonds from the pillow beside me remind me that life was never about me, but about all that is around me. I am grateful.

Abundantly, endlessly grateful.

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Roasted Pepper & Summer Squash Gnocchi

Farmers market stands and produce aisles are filled with an abundance of fresh summer vegetables. When I found precious baby pattypan squash and bite-sized sweet peppers on sale this week, I knew they had to grace the dinner table. The vibrant colors of mini summer squash and sweet peppers are enhanced with a good charbroiling in the oven. This process of roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the peppers, and cooks the summer squash to perfection. If you don't have access to baby summer squash, feel free to swap in yellow squash and zucchini, diced thick. Gnocchi is a soft, potato dumpling which can be found in the pasta section of most local supermarkets. Its thick, hearty flavor makes the perfect addition to the fresh taste of roasted veggies. This recipe makes enough to feed 6-8, or a table abundant with dear-darling friends.

Ingredients:

2 cups mini summer squash
2 cups mini sweet peppers
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced
salt to taste
2 (17 ounce) packages gnocchi
1/3 cup olive oil
1 pound Italian turkey sausage, cooked
1/4 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan or feta cheese

Directions:

Clean peppers and squash. Snip the top of each pepper and squash off. Slice the squash in half. Place all veggies on a baking sheet. Sprinkle shallot slices over the veggies. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the veggies. Place in an oven preheated to 500 degrees. Allow veggies to roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring them every 5-10 minutes.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Spoon 1/4 of the pasta water from the pot before draining the gnocchi. In a large bowl, combine the pasta water, sausage, vinegar, maple syrup, seasonings, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked gnocchi, then toss in the cooked veggies.

Sprinkle parmesan or feta on top (parmesan will give your dish a nice, classic taste. Feta offers an earthy touch of Mediterranean flavor to the meal).

Eat and enjoy!

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17 Responses to “Roasted Pepper, Sausage & Summer Squash Gnocchi”

  1. 1

    Keelie on June 6, 2011 at 6:45 am Reply

    Beautiful post. Delicious recipe. LOVE IT. :)

  2. 2

    Bonnie on June 6, 2011 at 8:04 am Reply

    Always a great reminder to share and acknowledge gratitude. I am a firm Believer that others needs are most often meet by those around them. I loved this post. You fed us spiritually as well as literally.

    • Brooke replied: — June 7th, 2011 @ 7:02 am

      Bonnie, I LOVE how wrote believer with a capital B. I’m a firm Believer, too. :)

  3. 3

    Kendra on June 6, 2011 at 8:59 am Reply

    Brooke – your post made my heart happy! Sometimes we need the help and receive it from strangers, and then there are times we are the strangers helping others. Paying it forward is one of the best feelings. Now off to the grocery store to find gnocchi!

    • Brooke replied: — June 7th, 2011 @ 7:02 am

      So true, isn’t in, Kendra! Hugs you!

  4. 4

    Maria on June 6, 2011 at 10:49 am Reply

    You are amazing and a great example to us all. Gnocchi is one of my all time favorite meals. Great recipe!

  5. 5

    Katrina on June 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm Reply

    So yummy! Love this!

  6. 6

    Jaden on June 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm Reply

    ::HUGS!!!::

    I can’t believe that we just met a couple of weeks ago….isn’t that crazy?! Our friendship is meant to be.

    xoxo jaden

    p.s. sprinkling you and your family with cheery confetti

    • Brooke replied: — June 7th, 2011 @ 7:02 am

      Thanks so much for inspiring so much, Jaden. You know I adore the crimeny out of you. XOXO

  7. 7

    Colleen on June 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm Reply

    Beautiful story…my heart is smiling!

  8. 8

    Betsy on June 6, 2011 at 1:24 pm Reply

    Oh, golly, Brooke, I am in tears. You are SUCH a good egg. And I have been surrounded by bad eggs all morning. Bad eggs that made me wonder if anyone even knew HOW to be nice anymore. And then I read this post, and it was like….a wave of relief. Someone DOES know! Thank you for sharing this -I so needed it.

    • Brooke replied: — June 7th, 2011 @ 7:01 am

      Betsy, you darling. There is good. We can be the force for change endlessly, always, abundantly. Bless you, darling. XO

  9. 9

    Michele Brown on June 6, 2011 at 7:20 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring experience of abundance! It touched me deeply ~ much love to you! Aunt Michele

    • Brooke replied: — June 7th, 2011 @ 7:00 am

      Aunt Michele! You read my blog?! How lovely of you! XOXO

  10. 10

    Jessica on June 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm Reply

    This sounds great! I recently got some Himalayan pink salt and organic peppercorns from Sustainable Sourcing https://secure.sustainablesourcing.com and I’ll have to try them out in this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  11. 11

    Amy Rene on June 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm Reply

    I lost my breath when I saw this recipe. It seriously combines 2 of my favorite things in the world! Gnocchi & roasted red peppers. I’m so excited to make this!

  12. 12

    Jamica WIlcox on June 7, 2011 at 10:49 pm Reply

    Oh Brooke! This just made me cry! From hand-painted buckets :), to gift cards to share! What an example of hard work and generosity! YOU, my dear, are a work of art! mwaa!

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