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from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Homemade Gnocchi
2 lbs russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of well-rinsed spinach
1 1/2 to 3/4 c all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400F.

Poke four or five holes all over the potatoes. Bake them (you don’t need a tray or foil, right on the oven rack is fine) for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size. Do a test after 45 minutes; they should be very tender (mine took closer to an hour). Use tongs to remove them; place on a cooling rack and let them cool completely. This could take half an hour.

Meanwhile, chop the spinach finely, and cook over medium heat in about 1/4 cup of water until it is completely wilted. Place in a strainer and press all the water out.

Remove the skins from the cooled potatoes and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and salt and mash very well. You don’t want to puree them, that will make the gnocchi sticky, just mash them until they have very few lumps. Fold the spinach in. Add the flour in handfuls and incorporate it into the potatoes. Once you’ve added half the flour you can turn the dough onto a floured countertop to work it there. Keep adding flour and lightly kneading the dough until a smooth, unsticky but not dry dough is formed.

Divide the dough into thirds and roll each portion into a rope that is about 1/2 inch thick. Use a pizza wheel or a knife to cut the ropes into 3/4-inch-long pieces. Now comes the fun part- flour your hands and use your thumb to roll each piece of gnocchi gently down the tines of a fork. Each piece should be able to do about half a roll before reaching the end of the fork so the final result should be that one side of the gnocchi has an indent from your thumb and one side has ridges from the fork.

At this point you can sprinkle with flour and freeze any gnocchi you aren’t using. To cook them immediately bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water liberally and cook the gnocchi in three batches. Within 2 minutes they should rise to the surface; let them cook just under a minute longer and remove them with a slotted spoon. Transfer them to a large plate so that hey aren’t putting any weight on each other, and sauce them as soon as you can. I like them with either a simple tomato sauce or sauteed briefly with pesto and veggies.
Serves 6-8

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
1/2 c tightly packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 c water
1/4 c almonds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
a few dashes fresh black pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh basil

Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a low boil, then turn the heat off and let soak for about 15 minutes, until soft.

Grid the almonds in a blender or food processor. Add the sun-dried tomatoes (with the water), garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and puree.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the basil. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Makes about 1 1/2 cups

This was a really rewarding dinner for a day that I felt like challenging myself in the kitchen. Normally I don’t like something that’s so fussy, and I totally got frustrated with the tine-rolling segment (SO NOT THE FUN PART, ISA), but it was very much worth the while, especially when I was able to pull some out of the freezer a few weeks later for leftovers! I was a little uncertain about the texture of the dough and wondering when I should stop adding the flour, but I did pretty well with 1 3/4 cups of it. Kneading it was fun, and I felt like the spinach made my gnocchi a bit more festive, as well as healthy.
Let’s talk texture. Gnocchi isn’t for those who don’t like doughy things. These are SO DOUGHY, so toothy. So satisfying. I want to make all of the variations, but I try to save potatoes for special occasions- they just go down too easy. The texture of the pesto was a nice partner to the gnocchi- with a faint crunch of almondy goodness. Total perfection, this meal.

from I Am Grateful- Recipes and Lifestyle of Cafe Gratitude by Terces Engelhart with Orchid

1 tbsp chopped garlic
3/4 tsp salt
3 bunches basil (leaves only)
3/4 c olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 c raw almond butter
or
1 c hemp seeds

Place all ingredients except for the almond butter or hemp seeds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Pulse and scrape down sides of bowl until all the ingredients have reached a pretty smooth texture. While running, add the almond butter or hemp seeds. (Some people like their pesto chunky. Use your own judgment as to when to add the butter or seeds.)

Your pesto is now ready to use. This stores well in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 1 1/2-2 cups.

A few years ago, I went to Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco with Shutterbean. I was a little taken aback by the question the waitress asked us: “What makes you courageous?” Oh boy. Good for Bean, she was pregnant, so she had a big deal of an answer: that she was bringing new life into the world. True! But lil ol’ me? I wasn’t about to tell this complete stranger about what I’d ever done to warrant such a title, so all I could come up with was my snap answer of “I wear red eyeshadow,” because Bean had mentioned earlier that I had guts to do such a thing. Laaaaaaaaame. The only thing that made it better was the menu devoted to delicious raw food. I couldn’t believe how rich and filling the carrot cake we shared for dessert was.
Well, fast forward to a few months ago, when I was browsing our local used bookstore, where I found this cookbook! All of the recipes start of with “I Am…,” which is really hard for me to get past. Some of the recipes will call for two, or even three of the other recipes, so it’s a little… tedious. But I found this pesto recipe, as I wanted something quick, easy and delicious, and it was just that. Especially the delicious part. I was really surprised at how much the pesto didn’t taste like almond butter! Of course I used extra garlic, and basil has its strong flavor… and the next flavor was lemon. Mostly the almond butter brought in texture, and let me tell you, it was divine. It coated our quinoa spiral pasta ever so lovingly. In the photo in the cookbook, it showed a ball of pesto, and I wondered if it was so solid as a result of using hemp seeds instead of the almond butter? Let me know if you try it!
I will never go back to pine nut pesto. But you already knew that.