Cauliflower Gnocchi with Creamy Cauliflower Shiitake Mushroom Sauce
For the Cauliflower Gnocchi
1 head cauliflower, leaves discarded and broken down, about 1 1/4 lbs
5 large egg yolks
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of nutmeg
For the Creamy Cauliflower & Shiitake Mushroom Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 head cauliflower, halved, florets removed and sliced
8 large shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and sliced in 1/4-in pieces
3 oz pancetta, chopped
1 leek, cleaned and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup of reserved pasta water (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
Flat leaf parsley, for serving
Make the Gnocchi:
In a medium saucepan, place the cauliflower florets and some of the stems and cover with about 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain well in a colander, then put the cauliflower through a rice mill or ricer placed over a large bowl. If you are like me and do not own one, I learned from Deb at Smitten Kitchen that you can also grate it using a box grater.
Add the egg yolks, 1 1/2 cups of flour, salt and nutmeg, and stir until the dough begins to come together. It will be sticky, but gradually add more flour until you achieve a dough that can be kneaded. Depending on the moisture of your cauliflower, you may have to add more flour.
Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead, dusting with flour if necessary. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, then begin to roll out each piece into a rope about 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces, dust with flour, then use a gnocchi paddle to create the signature grooves. A fork will also work. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dusted with a little more flour. At this point, you can freeze the gnocchi if you are preparing it in advance: cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and place in a freezer. You can use it the following day, or transfer the frozen gnocchi to a freezer bag if storing for longer.
When you are ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath. Salt the boiling water, then drop the gnocchi (in batches if necessary) and let it cook for about 2 minutes. You will know the gnocchi is ready when it rises to the top. Scoop the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and drop the gnocchi in the ice bath to cool. Reserve about 1-2 cups of the boiling water for the sauce. Drain and dry the cooked gnocchi on paper towels.
Make the Creamy Cauliflower & Shiitake Mushroom Sauce
In a large saute pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and cook the cauliflower and shiitake mushrooms until the cauliflower has taken one some color and the mushrooms are tender and wilted. Season with a little salt as you stir. Reserve about half of the cauliflower and mushrooms and set aside.
Add the pancetta to the sauté pan and cook until it is brown. Add the leeks and garlic and cook until the leeks are wilted and the garlic fragrant. Stir in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Carefully transfer to a blender (work in batches if necessary) and blend.
Add additional oil to the sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add the gnocchi and let it brown, carefully stirring. Carefully add the cauliflower sauce. If it is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, place the gnocchi in serving dish. Top with reserved cauliflower and mushrooms. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, parsley, and a touch of olive oil if desired. Serve immediately.