This month, the challenge was to create a vegan dish inspired by a meat or animal-product-heavy meal. I drew inspiration from one of my very favorite fattening things: gnocchi slathered with plenty of butter and Parmesan cheese.
To make this vegan, my gnocchi are eggless, and my "cheese" is made from a blend of raw cashew nuts and miso, flavored with roast garlic, white pepper, salt, and a bit of lemon juice. Does it taste like Parmesan? No, but it does have a rich, tangy, nutty flavor that Poppa Trix and I both enjoyed.
Doesn't look vegan, does it? But it is!
The yellow miso that I used gave it a tangy, cheese-y flavor, the roasted garlic (two whole bulbs!) imparted earthy umami, while the lemon juice brightened the whole thing up. A bit of white pepper and a pinch of salt and my "cheese" was ready for noshing.
Ah, but my no-egg gnocchi were not, alas, as drama-free. Now, I have successfully made gnocchi many times before, but I've always used egg. In theory, you make vegan ones the same way - Russet or Idaho potatoes put through a ricer, flour, salt - except you omit the egg.
I am not sure if my potatoes had too much moisture, or if I didn't use enough flour, but the blasted things were turning to mush when I plopped them into boiling water. Unacceptable. I was ready to throw them all into the trash, when Poppa Trix suggested that I bypass the boiling part and just try to bake them.
Against my expectations, it actually kind of worked. I say kind of because they didn't end up with a soft, pillowy, gnocchi-like texture; instead, they crisped up on the outside and got fluffy on the inside. Sort of like a cross between a mini potato croquette and a Tater Tot. Not a bad thing, to be sure.
To serve, I pan fried them in a bit of olive oil, tossed in some of the cashew "cheese," and topped it all with lemon zest and basil.
Leave it to me to make a vegan dish that's probably even more fattening than its cheesy counterpart.
Oh well - worth it. On January 28, Joan is going to post the round up on her blog - 24 delicious vegan recipes for you to try, so don't forget to check it out!