August 23, 2011

Recipe - Gnocchi in Pesto Cream Sauce

Dude. Life is stressful! We are on the hunt for a new apartment and it is backbreaking, soul-crushing work. I've spent more time on the subway the past few weeks than is prudent and our dinners have been suffering as a result. (Hello, Seamless Web!) However, I made up this lovely little dinner last week, back when life was still normal, and I wanted to share it with all my friends who I know are busy, too.

Johnny has been a bit obsessed with gnocchi these days (and I'm always obsessed with gnocchi) so I wanted to create the perfect sauce to go with those tiny little dumplings of joy. As a vegan, I really miss creamy sauces at times, and this fulfilled all my creamy fantasies (man does that sound wrong). I started by preparing my own pesto, intentionally making more than I would need in this recipe. Extra pesto kicks butt on sandwiches, roasted veggies, or on pizza. I also used packaged gnocchi to speed things up, but if you'd like to try your hand at making it from scratch there's a recipe for it here on Vegan Yum Yum.

One note: please use unsweetened non-dairy milk! I used plain Silk soy milk and my sauce was a touch sweet. I thought Johnny wouldn't like it, but he didn't seem to notice and happily cleared his plate. Just when I think I have him figured out...

I think fresh corn is the perfect side dish to any meal. Corn with a side of corn anyone?
Gnocchi in Pesto Cream Sauce
Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1 package mushrooms (cremini or button work best), sliced
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
3 tbsp vegan pesto (recipe follows)
1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (soy milk is preferable)

1 package prepared gnocchi

Get your gnocchi water heating in a large pot over high heat. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat, then add the onions. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the onions are softened but not browned, add the mushrooms and sundried tomatoes. Cook until the mushrooms start to give off their liquid, about 8-10 minutes. Add the pesto and soy milk and stir until well combined. Allow to simmer and reduce for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently.

When the sauce is about done, add your gnocchi to the pot of boiling water. They cook very quickly (2-3 minutes) and are done when they rise to the top of the water. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the gnocchi to the skillet with the pesto sauce and toss together. Serve with some basil and a sprinkle of vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.

Vegan Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

1 clove garlic
1 large bunch of basil, stems removed
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp salt
Dash of black pepper
1/4 olive oil

In a food processor, chop the garlic into tiny pieces. Add the basil, cashews, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and put the lid back on. Pulse until everything is combined, then drizzle in the olive oil as you continually process everything together. This makes a pretty thick pesto, you can thin it out with a few more tbsps of olive oil, a bit of veggie broth, or even water. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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