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This third marathon was the marathon that wasn’t meant to happen.  Until it was.

I say this because, my first third marathon was really supposed to be the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco last October, but then I got a stress fracture two weeks before and couldn’t run.  My second third marathon was supposed to be the New York City Marathon this past November…but a little hurricane named Sandy threw a wrench in those best laid plans.

I do suppose the third time is a charm, however, because I ran the Philadelphia Marathon yesterday.  And I can for sure say that even though, up until the minute before the gun went off, I was certain that it absolutely was NOT the race I was supposed to run…as I crossed that finish line in 4 hours 11 minutes and 48 seconds…I knew it was.

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What made me most anxious about this marathon was that everything was thrown together at the last second, from hotel reservations to travel plans to figuring out how to train for the two weeks in-between NYC and Philly to packing and getting out of my apartment on Saturday morning so that The.Boy. and I could catch our BoltBus out of the city and I couldn’t help but feel that at some point, the other shoe was going to drop and that everything was going to fall apart.  That I would sprain my ankle walking down the street or forget to pack my sneakers.  That I would oversleep on the morning of the race or have severe gastrointestinal issues.  Something was going to keep me from this race, I could feel it.

But all of a sudden I found myself in Philly.  And all of a sudden The.Boy. and I were waking up on Sunday morning at 4:30AM.  And before we knew it, my friend Allison and her husband were picking us up at our hotel and driving us over to the race start.

And then we were there.  Me, Allison, and Kate.  My running partners and now sure-to-be lifelong friends.  My Team in Training girls.  We had trained together, sweated together, and laughed together all season long.  And now we were going to run a marathon together.

Really, against all odds, it was going to happen.

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The first third of the race sped by for me.  I was with my girls, we were laughing and running through downtown Philly, checking out all of the stores that we passed, commenting on other runners and trying to hold ourselves to the 9:30 minute miles that we swore we were going to stick to, at least for this first leg.  Thankfully, because the streets were narrow and because the way Philly works is that the half marathon and full marathon start together, it was crowded enough that we couldn’t have gone much faster even if we’d tried.

The second third was trying.  My legs were starting to cramp up in weird ways and I made us stop to stretch twice.  A lot of the streets in Philly are pretty heavily slanted and I was pretty sure that had something to do with the fact that my left hamstring was tight and my right IT band and hip flexor felt like they were about to stage a revolt.  But still, we stuck together. The.Boy. jumped into the race from miles 13 to 16 and just his being there propelled me through those three miles.

And then came the final third, which is always the hardest.  But as we hit mile 19 at the 3 hour mark, I knew there was no way we weren’t going to finish strong.  At that point, it would hurt more to stop and have to start again than it would to just keep going.  So we pushed each other through.  Every time one of us said we were hitting a wall, the other two would chime in with some serious motivation.  As each mile passed, we would compare the remaining miles to the equivalent loops in Central Park, which we had run and conquered countless times.  And I know that if I hadn’t had those two girls next to me to keep me strong, I would have thrown in the towel much earlier.  I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to run a marathon without them again.  Having them there was just too much fun.

The three of us stayed together until mile 24.5, when Kate hit a major wall and The.Boy. stopped running with us to walk with her.  Allison and I kept on together and then at mile 25 I walked through a water stop and told her to keep running if she wanted.  But then I picked it up, booking it in that last mile with an 8:58 minute mile.  And it was at that moment that I knew we had run this race well.  I had something left to give, and I was so grateful for it.

In the end, all of us finished within about a minute of each other.  And I think I can speak for all of us when I say that I loved every second of the race.  I loved the moments when I felt strong and the moments when I felt like I was going to give up, but didn’t. I loved how we pushed each other and held each other up.  I loved how we kept our morale high by cheering for other Team in Training members as we passed each other.  It was just a great race.  And, without a shade of doubt, it was the race that I was meant to run.

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They say that running a marathon is, in a sense, like having a baby. While you’re in the moment, you swear to yourself that you will never do this ever again.

But then the endorphin rush when it’s all over is enough to convince you otherwise.  All I can say about that is, we’ll see.

I once said something similar about making gnocchi, and well. Here we are.  My first ever batch was made at the beginning of this blog and they were dense, heavy, and not the pillows of potato perfection that they should have been.  So I wrote them off as something better bought than made at home, and moved on.

Then came this week’s Food Matters Project recipe for whole wheat carrot gnocchi.  Enough time had passed since my previous potato gnocchi debacle that I thought, “hey. I can do this.”

And so I did.  Unlike my previous attempt, these were magical.  Almost lighter than air and so much better for you than your standard potato gnocchi since they are infused with beta-carotene rich carrots. I paired them with roasted butternut squash, peas and a ricotta sauce.  A meal to be reckoned with for sure and the perfect week-leading-up-to-the-marathon fuel.  (Or you know…the perfect vegetarian Thanksgiving entree.  If you’re into that kind of thing.)

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If you want to see how the other Food Matters Project participants prepared their gnocchi, then check it out here!

And…if you want to participate in this week’s 12 weeks of winter squash, then enter your link here:

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Whole Wheat Carrot Gnocchi with Peas, Butternut Squash, and Ricotta
Serves 4, adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1 lb carrots, cut into large chunks
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
  • black pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 cup ricotta

Instructions

  1. Put the carrots in a pot with water to cover and a pinch of salt. Bring th ewater to a gentle bubble and cook until the carrots are quite tender, about 30-45 minutes. Drain well. Return the carrots to the dry pan, cover, and dry them over the lowest possible heat, for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the flours in a small bowl.  Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil (for testing the dough) and salt it.
  2. Puree the carrots until smooth using a fork, potato masher, ricer, or food processor. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir to combine. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes. Sprinkle the carrots with 3/4 cup of the flour mixture and stir gently until it is just incorporated. Pinch off a piece of the dough and boil it to make sure it will hold its shape. If it does not, knead in a bit more flour and try again; repeat as necessary.  The idea is to make the dough with as little additional flour as possible.
  3. When enough flour has been added, sprinkle a little all-purpose flour on a clean, smooth work surface and roll a piece of the dough into a rope 1/2-inch thick, then cut the rope into 1-inch lengths. As each gnoccho is ready, put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Don’t allow the gnocchi to touch and if you run out of room, put a layer of parchment over the gnocchi already on the pan and start another layer on top.
  4. Cover everything with a towel and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours. You can also freeze the gnocchi for up to three months. To do this, put the whole baking sheet in the freezer until the gnocchi are frozen solid and then transfer them to an airtight container or bag. Do not thaw before cooking.
  5. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 and roast the butternut squash chunks for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
  6. When you’re ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  A few at a time, add the gnocchi to the boiling water and gently stir.  A minute after they rise to the surface, the gnocchi are done.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a bowl.  When all are done, add the frozen peas to the gnocchi water.  Cook according to package directions.
  7. Reserving 1/2 cup gnocchi/pea water, strain the peas and add them to the bowl with the gnocchi along with the butternut squash.  Toss with the ricotta, adding pasta water as needed to turn it into a sauce.

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You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at http://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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84 Responses to Whole Wheat Carrot Gnocchi with Peas, Butternut Squash, and Ricotta {the food matters project}

  1. Pam says:

    I can not imagine doing something I enjoy for 4 hours, much less running! I am so proud and in awe of you!

  2. Amazing. I know I’ve said this before, but I am totally in awe. I don’t know how you (and other runners) do it. Congratulations! And this gnocchi sounds awesome…lovin’ that it’s made with carrots.

  3. i didn’t even know you could make gnocchi with carrot? Once again- genius and once again I’m inspired! Love this and cant; wait to have dinner one night and not know what to cook and see a carrot and think Ah-ha! Gnocchi:)

  4. Gnocchi and a marathon! Now that is something to celebrate! Congrats–I’m so happy it was a positive experience!

  5. Beth says:

    You are awesome, Joanne! Congratulations on running the marathon that wasn’t supposed to happen, and doing it with grace. I know very little about running, except that the extra two weeks must have been very difficult to train around.

    And gnocchi, too? You really can do it all!

  6. Congrats Joanne! I’m glad that after all the planning and then the change of plans, that this race was a great experience for you!

  7. Candace says:

    Congratulations, Joanne! I’m so happy that everything worked out for you to run this race. I know that it was important for you. This gnocchi looks amazing. I must try this. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  8. CONGRATULATIONS on your marathon! So amazing. It’s such a wonderful accomplishment, and you should be proud! One you’ll remember, for sure. 🙂 And I’ll also remember this gnocchi. Ummm, hello yummm!!

  9. Congratulations on your marathon!! I am so inspired by you! I need to whip my butt into shape and do a marathon or at least walk one! 🙂 Thanks for the recipe! Now I use for all those carrots that I keep getting from my CSA box!

  10. Amy says:

    Raise the roof! Let’s all hear it for Joooaaaaaaane! Yay. I have those feelings of torture and triumph after 4 miles 😀 And hey, I didn’t know The.Boy. ran marathons, too. You guys really are a power couple. Congrats, lady! So awesome.

  11. Tandy says:

    Well done and well run! Thanks for sharing the testing tip. Wish I had it yesterday when I made gnocchi as they didn’t hold up 🙂

  12. Nelly says:

    This looks nom and it makes me totally miss gnocchi. Almond flour just doesn’t quite do it. :/ I’ve recently heard good things about coconut flour, though. Wish me luck! Or, better yet, what’s your expert opinion on the subject.

  13. Foodycat says:

    I am so much in awe of people who enjoy running! This looks like a delicious meal to reward yourself with, too!

  14. Shannon says:

    i want those gnocchi!! and i love that you ended up having such an amazing marathon despite the trials and tribulations of what should’ve been your ‘first’ and ‘second’ third marathon. Love the support of The.Boy. too, can’t wait to meet him 😉

  15. Tandy says:

    Well done and well run! I wish I had your tips yesterday when I made gnocchi as they didn’t hold up 🙂

  16. Congrats on the marathon, I’ve never ran a marathon, reading your experiences motivates me.

  17. Saguna says:

    Amazing! Congratulations on the marathon, it sounds as if the three of you were amazingly dedicated and ran like beasts!

    I’ve generally been afraid of making pasta at home, but I’m totally tempted by your gorgeous pillow-y orange clouds of gnocchi.

  18. kelsey says:

    hmmm I have all these ingredients…

  19. marie says:

    What a simple recipe for such a yummy dish, I thought it would be way more detailed. I’ve actually never tried gnochhi but this looks so interesting and healthy.

    Congrats on finishing the marathon, Finally!!!!! So glad it all worked out, you should be so proud.

  20. Danielle says:

    Congratulations – so inspiring – almost makes me want to get out and run a marathon….or at least a 5k.

  21. london bakes says:

    Love the idea of making carrot gnocchi – I eat enough of it that I should mix it up from time to time!

    And I have to say, your description of the marathon almost makes me want to sign up for one myself. Congratulations girl, you did an amazing job!

  22. A wonderful idea and I am sure quite delicious too.

  23. Aww I love that you ran this race with friends! And your boy is so nice for taking part as well. I’ve never run a race with anyone else!!..another reason why I’m so excited for New Orleans!! So glad everything ended up working out in the end – you rock!

  24. What a fantastic combination of flavors. I have been wanting to try carrot gnocchi.

  25. SallyBR says:

    CONGRATS!!!!! I knew you would do it, and had a blast reading about your big adventure!

    a little jealous, wish I could pull another marathon, but hey, in life you must go with the flow and enjoy the ride… 😉

    Great recipe too, very unusual and creative!

  26. Joanne,
    I’m so glad you did this recipe. I have his book and never even noticed this recipe. I’ll be making it for sure!

  27. Congrats Joanne!!!! What an inspiring and challenging experience! And, I love how The.Boy stepped in and not only ran with you but was supportive to one of your running partners – he is for sure a keeper! So proud of you girl 🙂

  28. I have never wanted to run a marathon – I have always thought everyone was crazy who thought that was a good idea. But girl you made it sound thrilling, bonding and fantastic. What an awesome team you had. And I love gnocchi!

  29. congrats on finishing the marathon
    and I mean that
    I know how hard that is
    and I know you love your marathons even though I think you do too much running and wish you would slow down a bit.
    And this carrot gnocchi is BRILLIANT!

  30. Katerina says:

    Congratulations Joanne for the marathon! I love gnocchi and these carrot ones look very very tasty!

  31. I’ve seen carrots popping up in all sorts of fun places lately, but this is the first time I’ve seen carrot gnocchi – yum!!! This sounds fantastic.

    Congrats on the marathon. I can NOT imagine spending 4+ hours running… you are insane (in a good way!)

  32. You are amazing. I think I’ve mentioned that I really have no desire to run a marathon. With that being said, I’m always so impressed when a friend does it. You should be so proud of yourself!

    And, well, I can’t think of a better thing to eat after a marathon than a huge plate of gnocchi, which looks freakin’ awesome!

  33. Guru Uru says:

    Congratulations my friend how absolutely inspiring 😀
    I love this gorgeous salad and sure it kept you going :

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  34. Congratulations! It is my goal to take a part in a marathon. Your gnocchi looks delish.

  35. I could totally see how running a marathon and having a baby are alike. Congratulations to you all! What a terrific job. I felt the same way about gnocchi as you but, maybe I too will give it a try again. You never know right? 😉

  36. Eileen says:

    Hooray marathon! Good for you! I also have had a few gnocchi failures–but I am always game to try another one. Carrot sounds like such a fresh & wonderful central ingredient here!

  37. Emily says:

    Congrats! A marathon & gnocchi? You’re definitely ambitious!

  38. I am so glad it worked out. Sometimes it feels like we should doubt ourselves when, unbeknownst to you your mind really new all along you’d be great. Congratulations. The one vegie my son will eat is carrot. These would thrill him no end

  39. This looks amazing. I’ve been making pumpkin gnocchi lately but I’ll definitely be trying this one ASAP.
    Stress fracture. . . tell me about that. I think I have a stress fracture that will keep me from running in the Seattle Half this weekend. ARGH.

  40. Pam says:

    Congrats on your marathon! And your gnocchi sounds fantastic!

  41. CONGRATS on your marathon! I bet you are going to celebrate with a huge Thanksgiving feast for sure ;)!

  42. Mazel on the marathon!!! You’ve earned your carbs girl. Go hard! 🙂

  43. Congrats on the marathon!!! What an awesome time 🙂 And how cute/sweet of your bf to run part of the way with you! Love it.

  44. Chris says:

    Great write up Joanne, it was so exciting to read through your words. Congrats and so glad it all came together finally!! You rock!

  45. OohLookBel says:

    Congratulations to you and your friends on a massive effort. Your writing is great, and made it feel like we were there with you (but without the pain). And I love gnocchi and love this recipe, too.

  46. daphne says:

    congrats on finishing it! You must admit it feels good despite it probably hurt like hell during the race. So proud of you!

    And the gnocchi isn’t that bad either! Pass me the fork because I love to have that bowlful.

  47. Way to go, Joanne! I still think that anyone completing a marathon is a winner. 🙂

  48. I envy your strength Jo! I can barely run 5 minutes let alone the mammoth effort you put in. AND you have conquered gnocchi? Is there anything this girl cant do ladies and gentlemen?? Hell no! 😉

  49. Gloria says:

    wow!!! Joanne look really delicious!!!!

  50. Congrats on the marathon!! And that looks absolutely delicious!

  51. Lexi says:

    Great Pick! And of course over the top! Love it.

  52. Katie says:

    Oh, congrats! So glad it worked out for you to travel down to Philly for the marathon!

  53. That’s amazing Joanne. I am truly happy for you, even though I an a few thousand miles away. I wish I could give you a big hug!

  54. What an interesting analogy about running a marathon/having a baby. I don’t know anything about running a marathon but I do know something about having a baby so I get it! Congratulations to you! I’m so glad you didn’t forget your shoes or have anything interfere with this experience. Oh, and great recipe too 🙂

  55. Karis says:

    I’m so happy the marathon ended up being a great experience for you! Can’t imagine doing it myself, but I welcome the challenge to make gnocchi 🙂

  56. Suddenly, my bowl of beef stew doesn’t look as good (and healthy) as this gorgeous dish. You know, I admire anyone who runs a marathon. It’s more than my battered knees can handle. Congrats!

  57. Congrats on the marathon, and thanks for hosting this week!

  58. Blond Duck says:

    I’m totally different. I have to force myself to quit running. Of course, I’ve never done over a 10-K

  59. So proud of you Joanne – you kicked butt in that marathon – it was meant to be!!!!

  60. Kari says:

    Ohh, congratulations!! That is so exciting – I am delighted you finally got one in (and The One in, by the sounds of it). Brilliant news, and this looks like rather a good dish for post-marathon re-fueling too 🙂

  61. congratulations on the run miss joanne! you are amazing… how the hell does your body handle all that? i ran 3 miles today because you inspired me and i found it to be very tough. LOL! i loved how this turned out… mine was more of a pasta than gnocchi but still so good. i wanna try to make the gnocchi for reals though… someday soon.

  62. You are AMAZING, Joanne!
    The carrot gnocchi and butternut…a fantastic combo. You eat really well.

  63. That Girl says:

    Congratulations on the marathon that was!

  64. So clever. Totally going to give this a try, carrot gnocci. Perfect for a cool evening and a good glass of red wine in my house.

  65. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with carrots (childhood forcefeeding and all), but this looks like one way I could really enjoy them – I definitely need to give this a try. Haven’t conquered gnocchi either – so that’s another reason to give these a go.

    Congratulations on finishing your marathon, and for such a wonderful team effort, sticking together and supporting each other through the hard miles.

  66. Lynn says:

    I was waiting for the race post and loved hearing about it. You made me feel it. I admire you so much for doing that.

    Love the colors in that dish!

  67. Hotly Spiced says:

    What a journey. A huge congrats from me, Joanne to you and your friends who ran with you and who ran so well. Good on you for overcoming all the adversity with the cancellation of the NY marathon and all you’ve had on and your personal issues and then there’s been the increasingly cold weather etc. I think you’ve done amazingly well but I have to say, making gnocchi is so much easier! xx

  68. You are just seriously amazing. And I LOVE that Mike ran some with you, that is just perfect.

  69. this looks awesome. congrats on the race!! marathons are tough (my 3rd was the hardest by far) but you’re right- you just keep doing them. oh, endorphins.

  70. Geni says:

    What a race…so great that you managed to keep each other going. Support seems to be the key to any “insurmountable” task. This gnocchi looks fantastic! 🙂 I have never seen carrot gnocchi before…how unique and wonderful. The whole dish would be a perfect addition to any Thanksgiving table.

  71. grace says:

    carrot gnocchi! this is a first–beautifully done, joanne! i love the peas in there too.

  72. Reeni Pisano says:

    Congratulations Joanne! You rock! I still haven’t made gnocchi. My intentions are good I just keep putting it off. Love the idea of a carrot gnocchi! Perfect with ricotta!

  73. Did your first gnocchi recipe include egg? It seems like the eggless recipes tend to trump the rest.

  74. Laura says:

    Congrats on the marathon! I won’t pretend to understand, but… 🙂

    That dish is gorgeous! Those peas! I love bright green, not at all overcooked peas! Yum!

  75. I’m so happy that this marathon happened for you! Congrats! And you know you’re totally inspiring me to give the marathon a try, right? At least the half-marathon. I would love to have training buddies and someone to run with too – how fun would that be? 🙂

    Oh and this gnocchi is amazing. I’ve been on a huge butternut squash kick so this here is just perfect for me!

  76. Johanna GGG says:

    onya for running this marathon – seems fate works in mysterious ways – gnocchi is still a bit of a mystery to me – I’m not much into boiling stuff anyway and have only had one attempt at boiled fresh gnocchi on my blog – it wasn’t awful but the amount of time for the return didn’t really convince me to go back – I needed more endorphins!

  77. Congrats on the marathon! I love that you made your own gnocchi! I made pumpkin gnocchi a couple times now and it’s wonderful. I bet this carrot version is absolutely delicious!

  78. Congrats on such a stellar marathon time!! I love the idea of carrot gnocchi… makes me excited for the sweet potato gnocchi i have in the fridge for tonight! (Store bought so not as impressive as yours!)

  79. I’m so glad you were able to run a marathon after all! I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I thought Philly put on a GREAT race. Congrats on your time!

  80. Hannah says:

    Carrot gnocchi is such a smart idea. I’ve been scheming up ways to make pumpkin gnocchi, but quite frankly, these sound even better.

    Hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  81. Great work on the marathon! And I love the addition of squash and peas, looks delicious 🙂 Thanks for hosting this week!

  82. You are basically my hero.
    For the marathon and for this gnocchi…which basically speaks to my soul.

  83. […] year ago…Whole Wheat Carrot Gnocchi with Peas, Butternut Squash and Ricotta, Miso Harissa Delicata Squash and White Bean Salad with Swiss Chard Sesame […]

  84. […] they were out. We did find one we looked at, but only sort of followed the recipe. You can see it here, but it’s significantly […]

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