Vegan Gnocchi of fresh peas and wholewheat flour, with a delicious sauce of tofu, walnuts and mushrooms
Time: prep. 15-20 mins
30 min to 12 hrs for rest
cook. 7-10 mins
Yield: 2 servings
In the chapter on healthy bread, I had reported my amazement at its age and therefore its presence on the table of mankind even before the cultivation of wheat. Gnocchi, although much younger than bread, is perhaps the oldest form of pasta. This is demonstrated by the archaeological findings of a village dating back to the Bronze Age (between 3400 B.C. and 600 B.C.), found in Val di Ledro, in Trentino, where a dozen or so gnocchi testify to the lunches of other times. Unlike contemporary ones, these were composed of a mixture of cereal flours: potatoes did not enter the gastronomic scenes of the Old Continent until after the second half of the 19th century. Tenderness and sweetness of potatoes bewitched everyone; so since its introduction to European kitchens, these dumplings are usually made with potato, flour and most of the time with eggs.
So starting from this short historical excursus, I hope to avoid, with this vegan gnocchi recipe, discussions such as “hands off from the traditional food”, because as you may have understood there would be a lot to discuss. On the contrary, what I propose might be a return to the origins!
As a good CHEtarian I’m a health nut (just enough), with an eye to the silhouette, but also to sustainability, and I always underline that to achieve these important goals we must not necessarily give up the gluttony, or worse we must be rich. The idea that I’m about to propose to you, fits perfectly with the advice of CHE Food Revolution and goes to replace the “traditional-but-not-more-than-much” gnocchi, usually recognized as a dish highly rich in refined carbohydrates (fast digesting) and further loaded with extra heavy sauces made with heavy cream, butter, meat sauce or melted cheese.
Because eating well is certainly a celebration, but it is best celebrated with the approval of the whole body; a dish so abundant in calories and triglycerides is not a pleasure for the liver, nor for the intestines, nor for the stomach.
So here is a recipe for you, good and healthy food lovers, without any sense of guilt; but based on easy to find ingredients which do not open a hole in the family budget: you don’t need to buy expensive legume flours, just the peas bought from the farmer, since in this period (May) we are in harvest days; what better way to take advantage of their sweetness in season!
However, if you arrived late on the page, don’t’ be sad: for this recipe of vegan gnocchi you can use with success also frozen peas.
150 grams of peas already cooked
90 grams of wholewheat or whole spelta flour (possibly stone milled)
1 tbsp of tomato paste
a pinch of salt
50 grams of tofu
15 grams of dried (soak them at least for 30 minutes) or 100 grams of fresh mushrooms – if you have porcini mushrooms, the recipe will be even more tasty
2 tbsp of walnuts, chopped (if you are not vegan you can replace them with 2 tbsp of any grated mature cheese)
1 tbsp of onion chopped finely
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of ground walnut (or 1 tbsp of any grated mature cheese)
some drops of crude olive oil
Clean, shell and cook the peas. Once cooked, transfer them to a bowl where they will cool to room temperature. After draining the cooking water well, puree the peas with a blender. Then combine the pea mixture with the flour, tomato, salt and finally a generous sprinkling of nutmeg; mix everything thoroughly. Once you have obtained a homogeneous mixture, divide it into various balls as big as a walnut, from which you can obtain 20-30 cm long fillets. Then cut these cylinders with a knife to create the gnocchi giving them the usual shape with the tines of a fork. Arrange the freshly made gnocchi on a surface dusted with 00 flour, without letting them touch each other.
I suggest to let the vegan gnocchi rest for half an hour, as well as 12 hours.
When you’re ready, cook them in plenty of boiling salted water: don’t forget to use the filtered water from the mushrooms to strengthen the aroma.
For the sauce, put the oil in a frying pan and let the onions wither over low heat; after about 5 minutes, once browned, increase the heat and add the porcini mushrooms together with the walnuts; sauté everything for a few minutes while stirring. Take ½ tablespoon of mixed onions and mushrooms and set aside to decorate the dish. Then add the crumbled tofu (it can also be frozen and thawed) and cook for a few more minutes, adding a few tablespoons of the cooking water from the gnocchi.
When the dumplings are ready (we’ll understand when they come to the surface) with an immersion blender transform the sauce into puree. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of sauce into the plate, place the gnocchi on top and cover them with more sauce; decorate the plate with the mushrooms kept aside, other pieces of walnut and a drizzle of oil, or if you prefer some extra cheese.
It is a complete dish, rich in protein, fiber, slow-digesting carbohydrates, vitamins and mineral salts, which manages to combine both taste and affordability without feeling guilty.
But to stimulate the absorption of iron(*) and increase even more the sense of satiety, I recommend combining it with a generous plate of grilled vegetables, seasoned with a little oil and lots of lemon.
Enjoy your food and good revolution to all.
(*) Teucher B, Olivares M, Cori H. (2004). Enhancers of iron absorption: ascorbic acid and other organic acids. International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research 74(6):403-419.
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