Humble. Hearty. Arguably–bland. And yet, at the same time, the hottest vegetable around these days.
You can blame the Paleo-Keto-ists. Or the vegetarians. Or the Vegans. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter. Cauliflower is hot.
From Cauliflower mash replacing mashed potatoes, to pizza crusts, “steaks,” “wings” and more…
Cauliflower gnocchi is something I’ve been curious about for a while. I mean, I love gnocchi. I make it all the time, and this time of the year, I mostly make it from yams or squash. It’s become one of those things I’m finally starting to get the hang of, and not need to look up a recipe for.
I was entranced by Amanda Cohen’s appearance recently on Iron Chef Canada. Her vegetarian NYC restaurant, Dirt Candy, is now on my bucket list. They do, it’s said, a Cauliflower and Waffles that is to die for.
On Iron Chef, the secret ingredient was… wait for it… Cauliflower! And one of the dishes Chef Cohen made was Cauliflower Gnocchi.
I tried to do this one gluten free, but was unable to make it work. I’ll experiment some more and perhaps come back to you with a gluten-free version.
I was most impressed by the texture of this gnocchi. It’s pillowy and soft in the middle, but because you finish it in a frying pan, it has a nice crispy edge. It needs very little accompaniment. I serve mine tossed in a little pesto, with a grating of parmesan.
- 1 medium head cauliflower
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp pesto
- additional parmesan cheese
- Start by removing the outer leaves from the cauliflower. Cut out the core and separate into florets.
- Place half the florets into a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is coarsely ground and resembles rice. Remove to a bowl and repeat for the second batch.
- Add a couple tablespoons of water to the bowl of cauliflower rice and microwave for 3 minutes. Stir, and microwave for another 5 minutes. If you don’t have a microwave, spread it in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray, and bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes.
- Remove and allow to cool enough so you can handle it.
- Place the cauliflower rice in a kitchen towel or a cheesecloth, and begin to squeeze the water out of it. Continue until you get as much moisture out of the cauliflower as possible.
- Place the cauliflower back in the bowl and add the ricotta, egg, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Stir well to combine.
- Now add the 2 tbsp of corn starch and 1/2 cup of flour, and stir to combine. Continue adding 1/2 cup of flour at a time until your dough is the right consistency. You’ll need to turn it out onto a board to knead it. The final consistency should be still a little tacky, but it shouldn’t be gooing up all over your hands. You may not need the entire 2 cups of flour, or you may need a bit more, depending on the wetness of your cauliflower.
- Once the dough is the right texture, place it back in the bowl and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the fridge and divide in half. Roll each half out into a long rope, then using a bench scraper or a butter knife, chop off 1″ chunks.
- Bring a large salted pot of water to a boil. Carefully drop the individual gnocchi into the pot one at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. You’ll need to work in batches. Mine took four batches. Stir the gnocchi well once they are all in the pot. You know they are done when they rise to the top, about 4-5 minutes.
- Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon or spider, and allow to drain.
- Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil and an equal amount of butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add your gnocchi to it, and allow to brown a little on the outside, stirring occasionally. Add more oil if needed. Stir in a couple tablespoons of pesto and toss well to combine.
- Plate the gnocchi with a drizzle of olive oil and a grating of parmesan cheese.