Gnocchi with vegan pesto cream sauce and shiitake mushrooms

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Last night I had a serious craving for comfort food. It has been really hot this week where I live (I think it was close to 100 degrees yesterday and even hotter the day before) so soups and casseroles are not sounding good just yet. It had to be a different kind of comfort food!

I had some packaged whole wheat gnocchi and some fresh basil, so I decided to throw together a cashew-based pesto cream sauce. I also sauteed some shiitake mushrooms to top it off and the result was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! So, so good!

I typically avoid packaged foods, but I do have a few things in my pantry for occasionally throwing together dinner when I want something different. I found egg-free whole wheat gnocchi at Trader Joe's.

Gnocchi is an excellent "vehicle" for the pesto cream sauce. The textures are perfect together. The shiitake mushrooms add an extra dimension of flavor, texture, and richness- I love them! I also sauteed some kale to go on the side and the meal couldn't have been better!

Gnocchi: Cook according to package directions. This typically means boiling for about 2-3 minutes.

Mushrooms: Slice and saute in Earth Balance margarine (or olive oil) until browned and the smaller ones are beginning to get a little crunchy.

Kale: Saute 2 minced garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil until beginning to brown. Add kale (washed and chopped) and saute until it is bright green and the thicker stems are somewhat tender. I season mine with red pepper flakes, a squeeze of lemon juice, and gomasio (lightly toasted sesame seeds processed in the blender with sea salt until it is a course powder like ground parmesan cheese).

Pesto cream sauce
Serves about 3 to 4 people

1 cup water or unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/3 cup raw cashews
~1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp gomasio (or 1/4 tsp sea salt and 1 tsp tahini)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1-2 cloves garlic
Dash of fresh cracked pepper

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Taste and add more sea salt, if necessary. To serve, place the hot gnocchi on a plate and top with the cream sauce then add the mushrooms over the top.
My husband and I enjoyed this delicious comfort food with a very smooth glass of zinfandel from Parducci Winery. Ahhh, the perfect way to kick off a long weekend!

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