Spring is here!
You’re probably thinking “wait…its April. Spring has been here for a couple weeks.”
Clearly you’ve never been privy to a Vermont spring.
It was snowing on St. Patrick’s Day, and there was snow on the ground until last week. Today was the first day that’s it’s been 50 degrees or warmer since who knows when (the weather channel says the official high for the day was 49 degrees, but close enough). Anyways, I decided to celebrate spring with a fresh, light savory dish.
It’s been a recent obsession. The little potato dumplings are so cute! I’ve never eaten real gnocchi before, so what’s it’s supposed to be like is beyond me, but my boyfriend said that today’s concoction was pretty darn good. He did hesitate to refer to it as gnocchi, but when you’re going for a dairy-free, eggless, grain-free version, expecting something identical is not realistic.
But hey, as long as it’s tasty, who cares?
Lemon-Thyme Cauliflower Gnocchi
1 small head cauliflower, cut into pieces (makes about 1 1/2 cups once run through colander)
2 TBSP milled flax seed + 6 TBSP water
1 TBSP honey
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1 cup fava/garbanzo flour plus more for dusting
3 TBSP olive oil
5 large crimini mushrooms
2 cups spring snap peas (I was going to use asparagus, but the co-op didn’t have any. If you have an easy time finding asparagus, feel free to use that instead!)
1/4 red onion
3 oz prosciutto
Clean and slice the mushrooms. Cut the ends off of the snap peas and remove the strings that go along the spines (this isn’t essential, but a nice touch. Time consuming though). Dice the onion. Shred the prosciutto and zest the lemon.
Cut the cauliflower head into medium-sized pieces and throw them in a large pot with about 1″ of water in the bottom. Cover and steam on medium heat until the cauliflower pieces fall apart easily, about 25 minutes. Strain the cauliflower. Make sure to get rid of as much water as possible!!! Then comes the tricky part…tradition says to put potatoes through a ricer in order to make gnocchi. But I don’t have a ricer, nor were any potatoes involved in all of this. So I took a metal colander, put it in a bowl, and started pushing the soft cauliflower through the holes with a clean dishtowel. If your colander has feet on it, it may be easier to place it on a plate and let the cauliflower pieces fall onto the plate. Regardless, use a clean dishtowel to protect your hands from the hot vegetables, and start shoving the cauliflower through the colander. It shouldn’t take long. If you end up with a few buggers that simply won’t go through, just pull them out and throw them into the dough.
Note: Although you don’t need it yet, put a large pot of salted water on the stove now, so that it’s ready and boiling for your gnocchi.
Dump all of the cauliflower into a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the fava flour, 1 TBSP of olive oil, the honey, flaxseed slurry, thyme and salt. Mix together really well with your hands. The dough should be pretty thick and sticky, like banana bread dough. Add up to another 1/2 cup fava flour if the dough isn’t holding together easily. Roll it into a large log.
Here is the tricky part, round 2: Dump the log onto a floured surface. It should be about 2.5″ wide. Cut the log in half lengthwise. Roll each half over 90o. Then cut each half lengthwise down the middle again (see pictures!). Roll each of your four mini logs in flour. Then, with a clean knife, cut 1/2″ pieces off of each log. These are your dumplings!
Once the water is boiling, dump your gnocchi dumplings (you can do 2 batches) into the pot on the stove. After 2-4 minutes, they should start floating. Pull them out with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl for safekeeping.
While the gnocchi are cooking, put a large skillet or sauté pan on the stove on medium heat with 2 TBSP olive oil (I used my trusty cast iron skillet) and throw the sliced mushrooms in. After 4 minutes or so (about when the first batch of gnocchi is done), add the peas.
Cook the second batch of gnocchi. When they’re done, throw all of the gnocchi into the skillet with the vegetables. After about 2 minutes, add the prosciutto, onion, and the lemon zest. Squeeze the all of the lemon juice into the pan and cook for about 4 more minutes.
The dumplings should start to brown a little bit. Then you’re ready to eat! If you can tolerate dairy, I think a soft goat or sheep cheese would go splendidly with this dish. If not, it’s wonderful without the cheese!
It almost looked like snow was falling a few minutes ago…my winter coat is laying on my floor in perpetual limbo until this confusion between winter and spring gets sorted out