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