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So on Saturday night, we finally had our big fondue night.  I tested 5 cheeses and 4 of them made it to the “fondue island” (my parents’ kitchen island transformed into fondue frenzy).  All of them featured a cheese from the book Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner.  From the top left and moving clockwise in the photo above, we have Gruyere, Spinach Artichoke, Chipotle Queso, and Sharp Cheddar.  The Swiss cheese didn’t melt right, so we didn’t use it.  I will do a cookbook review later, but for now, I want to feature an easy recipe that uses the Cashew Cream Cheese from Miyoko’s book.

Spinach Artichoke Fondue

  • 10 oz fresh spinach
  • 1 14 oz can quartered artichokes
  • 1 cup cream cheese (from Artisan Vegan Cheese p. 20)
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

First wilt the spinach with 1/2 cup water in a covered frying pan over medium high heat.

Drain any excess water, push the spinach off to the side (chop any large pieces with some kitchen scissors), and add your cream cheese to the pan while it is still warm.

Mix the nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in with the cream cheese, tasting for the right seasoning.  Add the quartered artichokes to the pan, cutting each of them an additonal 3-4 times with some kitchen scissors until you’ve reached the desired size.Now mix the three together!Ready for the fondue pot!  My favorite dippers with the spinach artichoke dip were soft pretzel rolls,  cauliflower, and tortilla chips.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Cashew Cream and Sauteed Mushrooms, Vegan Sausage, and Greens.

Okay.  I’m just going to say it.  This is the best thing I’ve ever made!  This is omnivore approved and my mom puts it up there with my adapted version of the Vegan With a Vengeance Mushroom and Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto.  Yes it’s that good.  A little involved, but so worth it.

I originally planned to make both orange and purple gnocchi (from purple potatoes)… but the purple just turned to mush when I cooked it.  I was just happy that ANY of this worked given that this was my first attempt at gnocchi. It takes time, but it’s really not rocket science.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Method based on this recipe.

  • 1 lb. garnet yams (about 2 potatoes)
  • whole wheat pastry flour (2-4 cups)

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into bite size chunks.  Steam in a steamer basket in a pot or medium-large saucepan until soft (approx. 20 minutes).

Mash with a potato ricer (the easy way) or a fork (the longer way) until completely lump-free.  Then spread the potatoes across your work surface/cutting board until cool enough to work with.

Pull the potatoes into a soft mound and sprinkle with 1/2 cup flour across the top.  To incorporate, use a metal spatula or a pastry scraper.  If the dough is easily sticking to the spatula or your hands, add another 1/2 cup flour and incorporate.  Then, continue adding 2-3 Tbsp flour at a time just until the point when the dough still feels slightly wet, but is not sticking to your spatula/hands (moist but not sticky).

Gently knead dough a few times to form into a ball.  Cut it into four pieces.  Now gently roll each fourth of the dough into a snake-shaped log, roughly the thickness of your thumb.  Use a knife to cut pieces every 3/4-inch.  Dust lightly with a bit more flour.

To shape the gnocchi, hold a fork in one hand so that the tines are curled toward you.  Using your thumb on your other hand roll each gnocchi pillow from the base of the tines to the tips.  What you’re aiming for is a slight “c” shape, where the back has small ridges to catch the sauce.  Set each gnocchi aside until ready to boil.

This is usually the point when I make my sauce and cook the veggies that will go with the gnocchi.  I thought they benefited from a few minutes of rest.  

When you are ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a pot of water to boil.  Cook the gnocchi in batches by dropping them into the boiling water roughly twenty at a time.  When they pop back up to the water’s surface, give them 10 seconds or so and remove them with a slotted spoon.  Have a large platter ready with a generous swirl of sauce.  Between each gnocchi batch, add a layer of your sauce and other ingredients, like cooked veggies and greens.

Sage Cashew Cream

  • 1 generous cup raw cashews (soaked for 30-60 minutes in very hot water and drained)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 15 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup water + more if needed

Blend all ingredients in a blender till smooth.  Add water until the sauce reaches the consistency of heavy cream.  It should make about 2 cups (add more cashews if sauce gets too thin, more water if too thick).

Sautéed Mushrooms, Vegan Sausage, and Greens

  • 12 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 2 links vegan Italian sausage, crumbled or diced small (I used Field Roast brand, but you could make your own)
  • 2 cups fresh dark leafy greens, however much you like (I used dandelion greens and spinach)

Heat mushrooms and 1/4 cup water on a pan over med-high heat until mushrooms are cooked down a little, about 3-5 minutes.  Add greens, and heat until wilted.  Drain any excess liquid, then add crumbled sausage, and heat until warm.

Serve with a few fresh sage leaves.

I had a lot of extra blackberries leftover from the PPK facebook challenge, and I haven’t been eating enough salad this week… so here’s my answer to both of those!

Blackberry Walnut Dressing

  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 1/2 cup apple juice (you could probably use apple slices too since this will be going through a sieve)
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon (more if you want a more acidic dressing, I also suggest adding a vinegar if you want this to be more of a vinaigrette)
  • 1 Tbsp packed mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

First, blend together blackberries, apple juice, lemon juice, and enough water to almost cover blackberries (leave about and inch or two of blackberries above the water).

Now pour the blended mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl.

Whisk/quickly scrape the bottom of the sieve with a spoon until most of the liquid is in the bowl and you are left with only thick pulp and seeds in the sieve.

Return mixture to blender and add mint and walnuts. Blend till smooth. At this point you can add more lemon or vinegar for more acidity, more apple juice for more sweetness, or more walnuts for a creamier dressing.

Now pour into a storage container of some kind. I really like these little dressing bottles from Fry’s grocery store.

I served on a bed of romaine, spinach, mixed baby greens, and moringa leaves (sometimes the farmer’s market has the randomest stuff!) and topped with dressing and cranberries.