BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Running Wild and in the Gnude

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Never have I met a group of people more enthusiastic about an ominous forecast calling for relentless days of rain, varying from light mists to pounding torrents. After waiting with baited breath for the El Niño predicted to put all other storms to shame, the entire state of California seems to breathe a sigh of relief with every drop of moisture returning back to the parched earth. Cautious optimism prevents anyone from suggesting that our water woes are a thing of the past, or that reservoirs are even remotely close to normal levels yet, but the subject is no longer so fraught with doom and gloom, despite the lack of sun. We all know just how important these rains are to fortify all the local farms both big and small, responsible for producing no less than 99% of the entire country’s artichokes, walnuts, and kiwis, just for starters. What fewer are aware of is the positive impact the precipitation is having on a much smaller, less cultivated crop; mushrooms.

Mushroom foraging is a hit-or-miss affair, unpredictable in the best situations. Aside from the poisonous potential of picking the wrong fungus, the intrepid adventurer risks disappointment on every outing, no matter their level of expertise. Mushrooms love damp, but not cold, and cool, but not wet weather, which makes this season their time to shine. Springing forth under the cover of fallen leaves and the fallen trunks of trees, finding these edible treasures is like a grownup version of hide-and-go-seek, although the seeker doesn’t know exactly what might be hiding, complicating the game quite a bit. The good news is that as long as it doesn’t kill you, every mushroom has incredible culinary potential, stuffed to the gills with deep, nuanced, and entirely unique umami flavors, simply waiting to be unleashed.

Such a lavish assortment of wild mushrooms should be celebrated in dishes that will feature their savory character and meaty texture to the fullest.

Gnudi, best described as naked ravioli, also share similarities with gnocchi but are made with ricotta instead of potato. Simple in concept yet spectacular in execution, they’re like little cheesy pillows that practically melt in your mouth. Bound together with just enough flour to hold their shapes, these are nothing like the dense balls of dough one might otherwise encounter when attempting to eat traditional dumplings. In this case, tofu ricotta easily replaces the dairy foundation, transforming this savory dish into a light, dreamy, and yet impossibly rich indulgence. It’s all thanks to those humble mushrooms.

If you’re lucky enough to have the right terrain and ideal conditions, get out there while the fungus is good! For everyone else, hit up the nearest grocery store and start foraging through the produce aisle instead. It may not be so wild, but let’s be honest: Any mushroom will still be delicious.

Gnudi with Wild Mushrooms

Tofu Ricotta Gnudi:

1 Pound Extra-Firm Tofu, Thoroughly Drained and Rinsed
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Tahini
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
2 Tablespoon Whole Flaxseeds, Ground
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
Pinch Ground Nutmeg
1 Tablespoon White Miso Paste
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Water
All-Purpose Flour*, to Coat

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms:

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Small Shallots, Finely Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
1 Pound Fresh Wild (or Cultivated) Mushrooms (Such as Crimini, Oyster, Shiitake), Sliced
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
3/4 Cup Mushroom or Vegetable Broth
Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Fresh Parsley, Minced

*For a gluten-free version, try using white rice flour or sorghum flour instead.

Crumble the tofu into a large bowl and add all the rest of the ingredients for the gnudi, except for the flour. Don’t be afraid to get dirty, because the best way to mix this is to get in there with your hands! Combine everything thoroughly, further breaking down the tofu so that no large chunks remain, and the overall texture of the mixture is something akin to smooth cottage cheese. Move the bowl into the fridge and chill for 15 – 30 minutes before proceeding.

Bring a large of water up to a gentle simmer. It’s very important that the water is not boiling, because the gnudi are too delicate to withstand that sort of violence. Using a small cookie scoop or two spoons, form the chilled gnudi mixture into about 24 balls, tossing them gently in flour to coat. Carefully slide 5 or 6 balls into the simmering water at a time to prevent the pot from getting too crowded. Simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Lift out with a slotted spoon and repeat with the remaining gnudi. The gnudi can be made in advance up to this point and kept for up to 4 hours in the fridge.

When ready to serve, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and sautée until golden brown. Introduce the sliced mushrooms, dried herbs, and broth next, cooking until softened and highly aromatic; about 5 minutes. Add the gnudi, gently tossing to incorporate and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until gnudi are heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with fresh parsley, and enjoy immediately.

Makes 4 Servings

Printable Recipe

Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

14 thoughts on “Running Wild and in the Gnude

  1. If California is benefiting from our “swapsies” I will suck it up for a season, but ONLY a season mind you! We Tasmanian’s expect our weather to be fully returned to us ASAP. We have bushfires (80 last week) we have tinderbox dry conditions, we have seriously low water reserves and we are on stage 1 water restrictions. I am completely redesigning Sanctuary to accommodate our newfound “Gobi Desert” status and learning how to eke out water like there is no tomorrow. If this is what Californians have to put up with on a regular basis I would just allow them the joy of this season or two of rain as when it returns back over to us (as it will) and it dries out again, the bliss of rainfall will only be a memory. We all have to appreciate the rain, whether the weather stuffs up our plans or not. LOVE your gnudie! I love the name, the look and most likely the flavour. You could pepper them with roasted peppers, chopped olives, herbs and douse them in a gloriously creamy or richly tomatoey sauce. I love their potential Ms Hannah. Sorry about the downer of a comment but the lack of water has dried out my sense of humour and left it somewhat desiccated. #insolidaritywithCalifornia

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    • It is truly a gracious and generous sacrifice for you to make to share your abundance of rain with us. I promise we’ll take good care of it and give it back just as soon as our plants and lakes have had their fill! I’ve heard that the snow is accumulating nicely up north as well, so hopefully that will hold us just a little bit longer after we make the swap. It’s terrible that there isn’t enough to go around for everyone… I’m so sorry that you have to feel our pain, too.

      On a happier, and much more delicious, note, I love your ideas for new gnudi accompaniments. Sounds like the start of a brilliant putanesca to me!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been wanting to try different types of mushrooms for a while, and these look delicious!! Thank you!

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  2. This looks delicious! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Oooo, I love mushrooms! Have to put this in my “To Try” folder immediately!

    janet

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  4. Reading and looking at your post makes me want to run out and go foraging at the nearest grocery store for wild mushrooms. I wonder if I dare try to make the gnudi gluten-free. It would be so depressing to see them decompose in the pot! I’ll let you know if I try, and succeed — or fail.

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  5. I love mushrooms foraging. It must taste deliscious.

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  6. This looks wonderful, thanks! I used to not be a big fan of mushrooms, but they’ve grown on me a lot since going vegan and trying a large variety in great recipes. So true on the rain, we Californians are happy to have it!

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  7. We’ve been a bit short on rain over here too (though not to the same magnitude – less rain is still a fair amount!) otherwise I’d send you some. In the meantime, I think those gnudi should make it the other way across the Atlantic and into my kitchen!

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  8. These pictures are amazing! I get hungry just looking at them :D

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  9. Oh, lucky you! Mushroom foraging is always an endearing adventure. As a child I loved to go mushroom foraging with my parents and my dog, nowadays I don’t do it so much, but I love mushrooms and your wild mushroom gnudi recipe sounds delicious!

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