Friday, August 18, 2017

“Faux”sage and Tomato Gnocchi Bake

Two Dutch ovens get filled with layers of a homemade soy-based "faux-sage", a two-onion ragú and homemade gnocchi before being topped off with fresh mozzarella cheese and baked to bubbling perfection.

Faux-sage Gnocchi Bake

To me, the ultimate comfort food is baked pasta. Whether it's my mom's lasagna, tortellini al forno, ziti or homemade mac n cheese, some form of the dish is sure to warm your insides and wrap you up in a blanket.

Like most things delicious, these pots of baked gnocchi sprang out of the need to use ingredients from the pantry and fridge. TVP is a cheap and ever-versatile protein, taking on whatever flavours you throw at it. Knowing that it mimicked ground meat or sausage really well when I made the Mini Tourtières, a few years ago, I decided to do the same thing and make a rich "meaty" ragu, adding the last bit of wine from an open bottle, two types of onions and some nutritional yeast for umami. Instead of the traditional ziti or rigatoni, I opted to cook up a batch of my gnocchi and use that for the starch.

Notice I said pots above. There was so much food that one Dutch oven couldn't handle it (and we have 7-qt models!), so I divided everything between our two. They bake up relatively quickly, and after a short rest it was time to dig in. Not a peep about "tasting weird" was uttered during the initial taste, and my mom was thrilled that it was vegetarian and filled with fibre - not to mention a perfect way to get a bag of gnocchi out of the freezer!


“Faux”sage and Tomato Gnocchi Bake
Makes 2 large pots, 12 generous servings

“Faux”sage
2 ¼ cups dry TVP granules
1 tsp black pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
1 cup hot “un-chicken” broth
1 cup hot “un-beef” broth

Tomato Puree
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained well
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste (I used homemade)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Ragu
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 leeks, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, finely grated
5 garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried basil
1 cup red wine
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes

Assembly
1 batch (1450g) gnocchi, cooked
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
260g diced part-skim Mozzarella cheese
  1. In a bowl, combine TVP through beef broth. Cover and set aside for 1 hour.
  2. Drain any residual liquid and set aside.
  3. Combine the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and nutritional yeast in a food processor and puree. Set aside.
  4. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add the onion and leeks.
  5. Cook until golden, about 6 minutes.
  6. Add the TVP mixture, carrot, garlic, pepper, parsley and cinnamon and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  7. Add the red wine and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  8. Add tomato puree and fresh tomatoes; bring to a simmer.
  9. Simmer on a low heat, covered, for 40 mminutes
  10. Heat oven to 350F. Have ready 2 Dutch ovens.
  11. Place 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of one Dutch oven and top with half the gnocchi.
  12. Sprinkle with half the Parmesan.
  13. Add another ⅓ of the sauce on top of the Parmesan, followed by half the Mozzarella cheese.
  14. Repeat with remaining ingredients
  15. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake another 15 minutes.
  16. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 379.3
Total Fat: 6.2 g
Cholesterol: 29.4 mg
Sodium: 663.1 mg
Total Carbs: 55.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 9.1 g
Protein: 22.6 g