Vegan Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Gnocchi

This past weekend was the infamous snowstorm Jonas. I had come out to East Hampton for work but found out that my restaurant was closing due to the storm. This meant that I had the whole weekend free to recipe test some items I've wanted to try out! Although maintaining motivation can be challenging in the winter, at least for me, I find it is the best time to buckle down & stay on top of my meal planning. I also have to remind myself that it's okay to just relax a bit in the colder months & spend some quality time inside by the fire & that is exactly how I spent my weekend.

Friday night, both of my Dads were in town so I made us a Soba Noodle Stir-Fry with Sesame Seared Tofu & some bangin' Coconut Lime Protein Balls. On Saturday, I wasn't sure what I was going to make for dinner, but I knew that I had to use the head of cauliflower that was in my fridge. Whilst browsing the web for cauliflower inspired recipes, someone in one of my online fitness challenges posted a recipe for a Cauliflower Gnocchi that looked so bomb! Once I read the recipe over, I knew that I could change it up a bit to make it not only healthier but also vegan!

The best part about being vegan is that pretty much any recipe can be altered to make it plant-based & cruelty-free. In my younger years, I always needed to follow a recipe exactly & often stuck to the same few ones I knew best. However, as I've gotten older, I've found that I am much more comfortable just experimenting in the kitchen. Cooking really is just a matter of trial & error & more often than not, the errors end up being just as delicious as the perfected items. I know that a lot of people get intimidated by certain recipes or get overwhelmed when being in the kitchen, but cooking shouldn't be regarded as something stressful. It's all about your perspective; if you view the task as something light-hearted & fun, that is exactly the experience that you will end up having. 

So for this recipe, you will need the following:

1 Ea Head Cauliflower, Large

1 Ea Baked Sweet Potato

2 Tbsp Tapioca Flour (+ extra for rolling out gnocchi)

1 1/2 Tbsp Soy Flour

1 Tbsp Ground Flax Seeds

1/2 C Nutritional Yeast Flakes + 2 Tbsp (Nooch)

1 Tsp Kosher Salt

1/2 Tsp Cracked Black Pepper

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tbsp Earth Balance Coconut Spread

2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme

To begin, bake your sweet potato in a 400°F oven for about 45 minutes or until soft. The original recipe for these gnocchi called for a russet potato, but I already had some baked sweet potatoes in my fridge from my meal prep earlier that week, so I opted to use one of them. While your potato is in the oven, rinse your cauliflower, chop into florets & steam for about 20 minutes. Strain well & then put the cauliflower through a potato mill. If you don't have one, like myself, no big deal! Just mash the cauliflower with a potato masher, fork or whatever works best for you, until fine. You want to get as much of the moisture out of the cauliflower as possible. For best results, wring out small batches in cheesecloth or a clean dish towel. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed cauliflower, baked sweet potato (skin removed), tapioca flour, soy flour, flax seeds, 1/2 C nooch, salt & pepper. If you find the mixture to still be too wet, you can add a sprinkle more of the tapioca flour. Next, you want to pipe out the mixture onto a floured surface. If you don't have a piping bag, use a ziploc bag & cut the corner off. Roll the gnocchi in the flour & make sure the mixture is tight! Next, portion out your gnocchi, press with a fork for desired grooves & set onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with olive oil and then bake these bad boys in a 300°F oven for 45 minutes or until just browned. They should come out looking like the finest tater tots you ever did see!

Remove from the oven & in a large cast iron skillet, heat your EVOO & coconut spread. Add gnocchi & allow the edges to crisp up. Add fresh thyme & extra nooch. Check your seasoning & serve immediately!

Have any of you ever made alternative gnocchi recipes before? Vegan recipes? What's your favorite way to use cauliflower? 

Enjoy your Sunday evening, folks!