I can’t possibly count the number of times I’ve created a dish inspired by something I ate in a restaurant. But how about that “o.m.g, I need to get home and make this immediately” feeling from a dish I never ate at a restaurant I never visited? This is a first. But I suppose that’s what happens when you vacation in a city with so many wonderful dining options that you’d have to move there to try them all (hmm, now that’s an idea.)
I can’t remember which Portland, OR restaurant’s menu I was viewing online when I saw chickpea gnocchi, or even how it was prepared. But what I do remember was frantically pulling out my phone, opening up my trusty note-taking app, and quickly tapping the buttons to spell it out. (Note to bloggers and foodies: if you aren’t doing this already, I highly recommend it! Jotting notes down in my phone allows me to keep track of ideas as they come, which is quite often, when you constantly think about food.)
So what exactly would one pair with chickpea gnocchi? Like I said, I have no recollection of what one particular chef in Oregon was doing with them. I think the word “curry” landed on the tip of my tongue before I even finished reading the description of that dish. The important bit is that I knew my chickpea gnocchi dish was going to take on some serious Indian overtones. Talk about gnocchi fusion!
I bet many of you think of gnocchi as a potato-based pasta dough pinched off into little pillowy dumplings. And course, you’d be correct. This is what I thought, and my initial plan was to substitute pureed chickpeas for the potatoes. I even found a recipe online, from a highly reputable and popular chef, so I figured this would be a surefire success on the first try.
No such luck. My dough wouldn’t stick at all, and after tediously rolling each gnocchi individually, my efforts were defeated as the gnocchi fell apart in the boiling water and later clumped together in a pile of mush when I tried to saute them with their accompanying vegetables and sauce. The good news, however, is that the combination of curried chickpea
gnocchi mush with zucchini, carrots, red peppers, and a zesty cilantro-cashew pesto was so good that I was determined to work it out into something I was confident enough to share with you.
And I did, the very next week. It turns out that not every Italian family makes gnocchi that same way we Americans mostly think of it. For some, gnocchi is made from cornmeal, cooked up polenta-style and allowed to set before being sliced or cut into small shapes and fried up with various toppings. I created my Indian-inspired version by following a similar method with chickpea flour and spices, and baking the gnocchi as a healthier alternative to frying. The result? These deliciously spiced gnocchi held their shape much better, and tasted wonderful when tossed with summery vegetables and my fresh, lower-fat pesto.
Curried Chickpea Gnocchi Primavera with Cilantro Pesto
3 cups plain, unsweetened coconut milk beverage (from a carton)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour chickpea flour
1 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves
2 large cloves of garlic
2 oz raw cashews
1 cup diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup sliced zucchini
1 cup sliced red pepper
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1 large carrot, grated
Spray a 9×13″ rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Combine all of the gnocchi ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, whisking to keep it smooth. When the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, cook for 5-10 more minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture becomes very thick (hint: if you scrape the bottom of the pan, the mixture should hold its shape so that you can see the bottom of the pan for a few seconds) pour it into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Use a small round cookie cutter to cut the polenta, or slice into small squares. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minute, turning halfway through, until golden and slightly crisp.
Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add the vegetables, and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly caramelized.
Combine all of the pesto ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour the pesto into the pan with the vegetables. Add the toasted gnocchi and toss to coat and heat through. Serve immediately.
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 17.4 g
Saturated Fat 8.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 636.6 mg
Potassium 754.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 48.6 g
Dietary Fiber 12.6 g
Sugars 8.6 g
Protein 14.3 g