Presenting the first ever Daring Cooks Challenge: Gnocchi!

May 14th, 2009 · Lisa · Fun with Friends, Recipes, Savory · Comments

Today marks the official posting day for the Daring Cooks first challenge. For months I have really enjoyed being an Alternative Daring Baker and challenging myself to conquer culinary feats along with hundreds of other Daring Bakers. It is always exciting to see the amazing creativity that each individual brings to their interpretation of the posted challenge. When the opportunity to join the newly formed Daring Cooks was announced, I signed right up. I love that as an Alternative Daring Cook/Baker I am free to be inspired by the selected challenge and then to tackle the creation of a vegan (often raw) alternative.

For the first Daring Cooks challenge, Lis and Ivonne (the esteemed founders of the Daring Kitchen have selected the Ricotta Gnocchi recipe from Judy Rodgers’ cookbook, named after her restaurant, The Zuni Café Cookbook.

So obviously the original recipe calls for a number of non-vegan ingredients. The amazing Shellyfish was there to guide all of the Vegan Alternative Daring Cooks with her tried and true gnocchi techniques. She introduced us all to an adapted version of the ricotta recipe in Veganomicon that was perfect for this challenge.
But, if you read my blog often you’ll recall that for most of this month I was following a strict detox plan that only allowed raw vegan foods in my diet. So, I had to find a raw version of gnocchi.

I was in luck. One of my favourite raw food chefs has a new stunning recipe book Entertaining in the Raw. It is one of those books that not only has drool-inducing pictures, but also offers techniques and ideas I have never seen before. Michael Kenney’s creativity and culinary prowess is truly astonishing. I have been waiting for the perfect excuse to move past my sense of awe and actually attempt one of the recipes. When this challenge was announced I knew the moment had arrived.

The original Daring Cooks recipe include a spinach ricotta gnocchi, Entertaining in the Raw has an arugula gnocchi recipe. The image that accompanies this recipe has the gnocchi swimming in a sweet pepper sauce along with marinated asparagus and pine nut parmesan. It seemed like the perfect depiction of spring, in a bowl. I was sold. I wrote down the list of ingredients and went out in search of cashews (a staple ingredient for this book).
I was quite surprised that the gnocchi recipe called for jicama as a primary ingredient.
I love jicama, but I think of it as watery and refreshing. Those are not terms that I would use to describe the texture of ricotta.

But the instructions call for processing the jicama in the food processor and then squeezing out the liquid. This dramatically alters the textural experience of biting into the jicama. It is amazing what Michael can teach you in just a few lines.

Next, I pulsed some raw cashews into cashew flour.

This is a very easy process in a high powered blender but I’m sure other nut flours could be used in a pinch.

If you have leftover cashew flour you can use it as the base for a rich curry sauce (yum).

Then, I added some essential spices, and blended everything up to get the perfect ricotta-like texture.
I didn’t have arugula so I used my favourite green – kale, instead.

I gently rolled the ingredients into little gnocchi shapes and let them set-up in my dehydrator for three hours.

In the meantime I started to work on the sauce.

I used Michael Kenney’s recipe for a sweet pepper-cashew sauce as a start, but added some sun-dried tomatoes to the mix.

I didn’t have any asparagus, but I did have a bunch of fiddleheads. So, that was an easy substitution. However, I followed the same preparation process that Kenney outlines for the asparagus and later realized that fiddleheads need an initial blanch to rid them of toxins. I skipped this step and lived to regret it.
With that learning behind me, I recommend that you blanch the fiddleheads for at least 3 minutes before tossing them in olive oil, salt and pepper and dehydrating them for 40 mins. But it’s your stomach, proceed as you please.
I filled the plate with the creamy sweet pepper sauce, nuzzled in the warm cheesy gnocchi and garnished with plenty of massaged kale and fiddleheads. It was delicious and deceptively cheese-like. I honestly had a very hard time eating the gnocchi because I found the texture to be so convincing it turned me off. I did share the leftovers with omnivorous friends who were quite pleased by this amazing culinary accomplishment. Thank you Michael Kenney, I can’t wait to try out more of your recipes.
Thank you to Ivonne, Lis and Shellyfish who continue to make food-blogging so much fun.
If you’re interested in getting involved in future challenges check out the fantastic Daring Kitchen website.


  1. Posted May 14, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Raw gnocchi? Outstanding!! It all looks so delicious!

  2. Posted May 15, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    This is incredible! Your photos are just amazing, and I’ve jonzed for a dehydrator before – but darn it, now I really want one!
    What a fantastic job! Thanks for showing us that raw can go anywhere!

  3. Posted May 15, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    I’m really glad you both enjoyed the raw variation on this dish. I was quite amazed at texture and flavour that was achieved using cashews and jicama. Shellyfish, it really is an intimidating book but if you do happen upon a dehydrator it could inspire many culinary adventures. Which I would enjoy reading all about on your blog!

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