Gnocchi is an Italian pasta made from potatoes. I love gnocchi, it’s so yummy, and there are some delicious freshly pre-made packages out there! Be sure to check, though, because some varieties do contain eggs. There are so many ways you can make it, too. In the spring, I love making it with fresh basil pesto and toasted pine nuts!
This savory mushroom and spinach version is simmered in a rich and creamy Cashew Béchamel! It is a perfect weeknight meal taking only 20 minutes and a handful of ingredients! Yup! Folks will think you spent all afternoon on it! I won’t tell if you won’t! 😉 I will be working on a simple, from-scratch sweet potato gnocchi in the next week, so stay tuned!
1 teaspoon each dried parsley, sage, thyme, and rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup raw unsalted cashews
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black ground pepper
Add cashews to a sauce pan and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
While cashews are boiling, clean mushrooms and cut into 1/2 slices.
Peel and slice onion in half widthwise, and then Julienne.
Peel garlic clove, crush with the back of a knife and mince.
Warm skillet over medium heat. When warm, add oil. When the oil has warmed to a shimmer, add onion and garlic. Sauté over medium heat until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add sage, parsley, thyme, and rosemary. Sauté until mushrooms have softened and onions are translucent. Add spinach and cook until spinach has wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, add gnocchi to boiling water and cook until gnocchi begins to float, about 3-5 minutes.
While the gnocchi is cooking, add cooked cashews to a blender with 1 1/4 cup water. Add garlic powder and salt. Blend until smooth.
When gnocchi is done, drain water and add to onion/mushroom mixture, add cashew béchamel sauce. Simmer over medium heat until sauce begins to thicken. Taste for seasoning.
I am in love mushrooms, but my favorite mushrooms are big juicy portobellos. Add in some thyme, red wine, and onions, and I’m all yours.
When immature and white, this mushroom may be known as common mushroom, white mushroom button mushroom, cultivated mushroom, table mushroom, and champignon mushroom. When immature and brown, it may be known variously as Swiss brown mushroom, Roman brown mushroom, Italian brown mushroom, cremini/crimini mushroom,chestnut mushroom, and baby bella.
When marketed in its mature state, the mushroom is brown with a cap measuring 4–6 inches. This form is commonly sold under the names portobello mushroom, portabella mushroom, and portobella mushroom. Thank you, Wikipedia. Who knew?
I wanted to add a portobello mushroom recipe to my cookbook but lamented on the best way to prepare them. I got out my handy dandy cast iron, but then I remembered that I had my little-used Cameron stovetop smoker. Within minutes I had fired up my gas stove, added some portobello mushroom caps and cherry wood chips, and 25 minutes later, I was floating in mushroom heaven. And no worries if you don’t have a smoker. If you have a medium pot with a lid, a steamer basket, some foil, and some wood chips, you’re set! Just so you know, there may not be a lot of variety, but you can buy wood chips at almost any grocery store.
Finally, I went back and forth between topping it with a simple red wine sauce, or a cabernet demi-glace, aka a Marchand de Vin Sauce. I opted for the latter. It didn’t disappoint, either. With just a tang of the sherry vinegar marinade shining through the cherry wood’s mild and fruity smoke, it was the perfect balance of flavor. I didn’t make my own demi-glace, but you certainly can. I will work on that recipe next!
Whisk marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Add mushrooms to a shallow baking dish or a gallon size ziplock bag and top with marinade. Set aside and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
While mushrooms are marinating, make the demi-glace.
Warm a medium-size sauté pan over medium heat.
Add butter. When butter begins to foam, add shallots, salt, and white pepper and bouquet garni. Sauté until shallots have softened, about 5-7 minutes.
Add vegetable stock, demi-glace, and wine.
Stir well and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the stock has reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
If using a smoker, add wood chips to the bottom of the smoker. If using a pan to smoke, jump down to the notes section.
Place the drip tray on top of the wood chips inside the smoker base. Spraying the tray with non-stick vegetable spray, or place a sheet of aluminum foil to make for easier clean-up.
Place the wire rack on top of the drip tray. Remove mushrooms from the marinade and arrange them on the wire rack. Slide lid closed.
Smoke for 20 minutes over medium heat.
Remove bouquet from demi-glace and taste for seasoning. Carefully remove mushrooms from the smoker and transfer them to a cutting board.
Slice mushrooms into 1/2″ slices. Plate the mushrooms and spoon 3-4 Tbsp’s of demi-glace over the top.
Never wash mushrooms with water! They are like a sponge and soak up water lowering the flavor. People think it’s dirt that’s on them, but it’s peat moss, and it’s all pasteurized. Portobello’s are usually pretty clean, but I use a mushroom brush for other types.
A bouquet garni is simple to make. Place herbs together in a small stack and tie stems together with a short bit of kitchen twine. Tie it tightly, as the herbs will shrink as they cook.
If pan smoking:
Place a double layer of foil in the bottom of a medium pot. Place wood chips on top, in a little mound. Place strainer basket over top. Place mushrooms in the strainer basket.
Place the pot on the stove and turn to medium high or high heat. Leave uncovered until you see smoke. When you see smoke, tightly cover. Wait 30 seconds, then turn heat to medium.