I love love love Italian flavours. Always have done. I had gnocchi for the first time a couple of years ago (I know, I can’t believe it either) and it was the most delicious food I’d ever had. In a light garlic basil oil with sundried tomatoes, it tasted like heaven. Then and there I decided that I would somehow recreate it for myself. Unfortunately I had no idea how it was made or what I had to do to make it gluten-free. It was a task that seemed daunting.
Therefore, I’m really pleased with this recipe for Yam Gnocchi with Basil Pesto & Mushrooms, not least because it is both gluten-free and vegan (hooray), but because it’s a delicious flavour pairing. I intended to serve the gnocchi with pesto alone and was making the balsamic mushrooms for another dish, then accidentally tried them in the same mouthful. I think you’ll agree the combination is perfect. The balsamic sweetness offsets the savoury pesto delicately and creates a beautifully rounded flavour.
Due to its gluten-free and vegan nature, this Yam Gnocchi with Basil Pesto is a little more delicate than the usual variety. When it cooks it may not look at though it has held together like regular gnocchi. Allow the pieces to drain and cool for a moment and this will help them firm up. Results can be a little unpredictable with this recipe but I’d recommend persevering and getting familiar with it. Once you get used to working with gluten-free gnocchi you’ll find you get the hang of it. (And once you cover them in pesto you really won’t care whether they look perfect or not!)
Yam Gnocchi with Basil Pesto & Mushrooms (vegan + gluten-free)
- 1 large bunch of basil, thick stalks removed
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
- 3 tbsp cashew pieces
- Salt and pepper
- 1½ cups small brown mushrooms, diced
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced (into 1½cm cubes)
- 1 medium yam, peeled and diced (into 1½cm cubes)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ¾ cup brown rice flour
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups mixed baby greens
- 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
- Prepare all ingredients as instructed above.
For the pesto
- Pulse all ingredients except half the olive oil in a blender to form a loose mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Scoop the pesto out into a glass jar and gently stir in the rest of the oil until almost combined. Set aside.
For the mushrooms
- Heat the mushrooms with the vinegar, adding salt and pepper to taste in a small frying pan until bubbling gently.
- Cook the mixture on low for 15-20 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and the vinegar no longer tastes acidic. Set aside.
For the gnocchi
- Place the potato and yam cubes into a saucepan of hot water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until both vegetables are soft.
- Drain and place the yam and potato back in the saucepan.
- Using a potato ricer, mash until smooth, adding the garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
- Add the flour, kneading the mixture into a dough. (It’s tempting to add less flour as the mixture can look a little dry – don’t do it!)
- Using your hands, roll the dough into two sausages about 3cm wide and press down on them to slightly flatten them into oblong shapes.
- Cut each into 1.5cm slices.
- Gently press a fork into one surface of each piece for texture.
- To cook, add all the gnocchi to a large pan of boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes, until they float to the surface.
- Remove from the heat and gently drain in a sieve (the gnocchi can be delicate at this stage).
- Serve the gnocchi over a bed of baby leaves.
- Add the balsamic mushrooms and drizzle pesto over the plate.
- Finally, sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top and enjoy.