Spinach, Wild Mushroom and Pea Gnocchi

I made vegan gnocchi for the first time in college.  It was during the time I was studying the Italian language, and it was an epic fail.  My gnocchi were too wet, and fell apart in the water.  The ones that didn’t fall apart clumped together on the bottom in one big, oddly shaped ball.  I didn’t understand using a colander or boiling them in smaller batches.  For several years, I declared them “too hard to make”, which now, seems ludicrous.  I just needed a bit more direction and technique.

I’m proud to share that my gnocchi game has become much more solid over the years.  Today’s recipe takes a bit of time, but it’s worth it for these delightful, Italian potato dumplings.  Shiitake mushroom, crimini, and oyster mushrooms sauté in a vegan butter with garlic cloves.  Add some fresh spinach and frozen peas, and you’re on your way to creating a memorable, home-cooked, spring meal.  For a variation, enjoy these gnocchi with marinara sauce, or get creative and add herbs and spices to the gnocchi before rolling them out to slice.  

Spinach, Wild Mushroom and Pea Gnocchi

Gnocchi Dough

2 large russet potatoes, boiled whole with the skin on

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (plus more to adjust dough and to flour surface)

Salt, to taste

Olive oil, to coat gnocchi

Gnocchi Sauce

4 Tbsp vegan butter

2-3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

⅓ cup nutritional yeast

4 ounce package of fresh assorted mushrooms (I used a mix of shiitake, crimini, and oyster)

2 cups fresh spinach, packed

½ cup frozen peas

Salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

2 Tbsp-¼ cup lemon juice

1. Peel boiled potatoes.  The skins should just slide off very easily by hand.  Mash the potatoes with a fork or your hands until 90% of the lumps are gone.

2.  Add all-purpose flour and a dash of salt to mashed up potatoes.  Smash with your hands until it forms a fairly elastic dough.  If too wet, add a little bit more flour.  

3. Fill a large heavy pot with water, and bring it to a boil on the stove.  While you are waiting for the water to boil, flour a working surface, and roll dough into a long log.  Cut with a butter knife into 1 inch sections.  Place the pieces on a dry plate.  Repeat until all the dough has been cut.  

4. When the water has come to a boil and all the gnocchi are cut, place a small batch of gnocchi in the bottom of a colander.

5. Submerge the colander in the rapidly boiling water.  Boil for 3 minutes or until the gnocchi float to the top.  Then, strain and put into a large mixing bowl and toss with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking to each other.  Repeat this process until all the gnocchi are done.  Do not cover, or they may stick together.

6. In a large skillet, melt vegan butter over medium heat and add nutritional yeast, garlic, salt and black pepper.  Saute for 2 minutes.

7. Stir in mushrooms, and allow to saute over low for 10-15 minutes.  The mushroom juices should release, and they should cook down.

8. Stir in spinach and frozen peas.  Saute until spinach breaks down (~1-2 minutes).

9. Stir in gnocchi and lemon juice.  Saute for 3 more minutes, taste, adjust seasonings, and then, serve.  Top with shredded vegan cheese or nutritional yeast.  Serve with lemon wedges on the side or crushed red pepper.

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