I am absolutely obsessed with mushrooms. They are tasty, meaty, chewy, flavorful and come in very distinct varieties so you can’t get bored. Eating a mostly-plant based diet, incorporating mushrooms has been crucial to helping me get over moments when I really want a cheeseburger. The texture and caramelization mushrooms achieve are everything ♥ ♥
When some of the San Diego MasterChef contestants and I were invited to present a dish on FOX 5 San Diego before the show premiered, I knew I wanted to bring a pasta dish but didn’t want to do the same bolognese dish I’ve done before.
I went straight to my holy grail Donna Hay cookbook and started scouring her pasta and veggie sections. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular but when I found this gnocchi recipe – I knew I had found my morning news show-worthy dish.
Because I like to experiment by making traditional dishes vegan and vegetarian, I decided to give this awesome recipe a few of my own little twists. I omitted eggs from the actual gnocchi and used fresh cashew cream in place of the heavy cream for the sauce. If I had a little more advanced notice, I might’ve also substituted the parmesan cheese with a homemade vegan type but I just picked up some grated parmesan from the store for this version.
If you love comforting, dreamy and creamy, mushroomy dishes, you’ll love my almost vegan version or Donna Hay’s original version of this gorgeous pasta. Enjoy!
Porcini Mushroom Gnocchi in Vegan Cream Sauce
500g starchy potatoes (I used Idahos for this recipe)
13g dried porcini mushrooms
1/4c or 20g grated parmesan cheese
1/3c or 50g of all-purpose flour
Couple tbsp. water
Couple tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, sliced very thinly ( I love garlic so I picked some medium-large cloves. You can also only use 1 clove if you’re not a big garlic fan)
150g of brown mushrooms like cremini or baby bellas, sliced
1/2 cup or 125ml cashew cream (instructions for this below)
salt and pepper
***Note: I LOVE using kitchen scales for baking and cooking and utilized mine a lot for this recipe as the original recipe is given in the metric system. I use this scale and I’m obsessed with it. If it was practical to weigh out my cereal to milk ratio every morning I would probably use it for that! But regardless of where you get your scale, just know that it is one of the best investments you can make for your kitchen. Go get one!***
For the cashew cream, there are tons of tutorials online but if you need something quickly, blend 1/4c cashews and about 1/2-3/4c water. Blend for a good minute (less if you have an awesome blender) to get the cream as smooth as possible. Soaking your cashews beforehand helps get it smoother as well but I was short on time. Once the cream is blended, set to the side and feel free to add a little more water if it’s too thick. It will thicken a little as you cook it.
Tell me that doesn’t look awesome!!
I don’t always follow recipes exactly as I should (I’m getting better though!) so I’ll explain exactly how I made my gnocchi. If you have suggestions on how I can make them even better, please let me know in the comments! I weighed out the right amount of potatoes and then placed them into a glass baking dish after poking them with a fork. Donna Hay’s recipe calls for baking the potatoes on rock salt, I’m assuming to prevent browning and maybe promote even baking? I didn’t have any on hand so I just baked like normal on 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Just keep checking on them.
After I let them cool enough for me to handle, I cut them in half and scooped out the fluffy potatoes. I think I could’ve cooked mine a tad bit longer but they were fine. I mashed my potatoes with a fork, being careful not to over mix and cause them to become glue-y. I think a ricer is the traditional way to do this so once I own a ricer, I will for sure do that. But until that day, a fork it is!
On to the mushrooms! Yasss. I found these dried porcini mushrooms at my out-of-the-way Vons so if I could fine these, I would say they’re probably available at most stores, especially more “foodie” stores. They were kinda expensive, in my young recent-grad mind, but the flavor is too special to skip this part.
I weighed out the right amount and reconstituted them in hot water. This water will be important later because we’ll add it to the cream sauce to both thin it and reinforce that umami mushroom flavor. I think you should save about 1/4-1/3c of this. I feel like my cashew cream thickened a lot and I wish I had saved more porcini liquid.
After they had plumped up, I lightly squeezed them in my hand to get out some of the moisture and then chopped them up finely to go into the gnocchi. Yum yum yum! They look so beautiful and smell delicious. Kinda looks like ground meat, huh?
Now let’s mix up the gnocchi! And prepare yourself for some pretty (in my opinion) shots of my little gnocchi babies. They’re so cute ♥ I felt like I was gazing into a pasta nursery and these were all of the newborn gnocchi! Too weird?
Anywayyy, add the flour, parmesan cheese, chopped porcini mushrooms, and a little salt and pepper. I skipped the eggs and added a little water to hold it all together. I think my dough was a tiny bit loose without the egg but the flavor and cooked texture was awesome to me.
Be careful not to overwork the dough so gluten doesn’t form too much, you want little gnocchi pillows. I think this dough looked gorgeous with the flecks of porcini running through it.
I’m not super precise with the length of my ropes but I did try to roll them out to pretty identical thicknesses. I cut a few pieces and then used them to compare my remaining pieces with. They weren’t all perfect but I still loved them!
Next, chop up the garlic cloves and fresh mushrooms. Make sure to clean off the mushrooms with a damp cloth, rubbing off any dirt. You don’t want to rinse or dunk them in water as mushrooms are very absorbent. I discard the stems but I think some people use them too. I guess it’s up to you!
I sliced the garlic pretty thin and you could totally mince the garlic if you’re not super into it. I like chunky, textural mushrooms so I didn’t slice mine too thin. I wanted a little bite. Thanks for bearing with all of these mushroom closeups 🙂 I just love them so much! The next pictures at least feature cream and mushrooms haha
As the gnocchi rest, heat up a pot of salted water and get to work on the creamy sauce. Pour a little olive oil into a pan and heat. Then, toss in the garlic and warm the slices until fragrant. Add in the mushrooms and cook down.
Once caramel-y and perfect, add in the cashew cream and porcini liquid. Stir until it begins to boil and allow it to reduce slightly. As it begins to bubble, you can start cooking the gnocchi in batches. They should firm up a bit and float to the top.
Mmm mmm – that mushroom-y brown color does it for me! You can take out the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon and add them to the sauce. Toss gently to coat.
I love how filling and fulfilling a dish made almost entirely from plants can be! It was so comforting to make and eat – we were having pretty dreary days that week, even on the day of filming the morning show, so these gnocchi were perfect.
I hope you enjoyed this little visual journey of mushrooms and gnocchi with me 🙂 I loved making them and I’m so grateful I was able to share something I love to do with the local San Diego audience and you. I had a blast hanging out with Bill and Ashley and can’t wait to keep working through more of Donna Hay’s recipes!