Back in 2012, I was fortunate enough to be able to do a semester abroad. Being the foodie I am, I chose Florence, Italy...the land of pizza, pasta, and gelato. At the time, I wasn't vegan, so I indulged on creamy pastas and buttery croissants more than I care to admit (haha!). Not only do I have incredible memories from that wanderlust fueled adventure, I also have tons of amazing, authentic dishes to replicate now using only plant-based ingredients.
Walking distance from my apartment in Florence was this little restaurant called Bar La Borsa. It was nestled in one of the tiny streets right by the Arno River and was just steps from the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio. Because it was so close to so many Florentine landmarks, the cafe was a bit of a tourist trap but they had this one dish that was so incredibly decadent and delicious, my friends and I returned almost weekly just to eat it. It was Gnocchi Rose: soft pillows of potato pasta coated in a creamy tomato sauce. They always garnished the dish with a delicately cut tomato and fresh basil.
This is the real Gnocchi Rose from Bar La Borsa
Ever since I left Florence, I've dreamed of having this meal again. I always planned on attempting to replicate it but never felt motivated to try to make a good creamy sauce using plant-based ingredients. This week though, I'd had enough. I simply needed to have Gnocchi Rose again.
Instead of making this an almond milk based sauce, I decided to see how it would taste if boiled cauliflower worked as a creamy base. I absolutely loved it! The cauliflower is hearty without too strong of a flavor, so the tomatoes and garlic can really shine. This gnocchi would be good with oven roasted tomatoes, shredded basil, or some other steamed leafy green, if you wanted to add some more texture to the meal.
Even though this is a homemade sauce, the meal comes together really quickly! This is perfect when you're not in the mood to cook something elaborate, or just want a filling dinner when you get home from school or work.
-1 packet of vegan gnocchi
-4 oz diced and cooked tomatoes (I used a can of fire roasted tomatoes, but fresh oven roasted tomatoes would work well too
-1/4 cup almond milk
-2 cups chopped cauliflower
-1/2 tbs minced garlic
-1 tbs Nutritional Yeast
-2 tbs Olive Oil
-salt & pepper to taste
-dried basil (optional) for garnish
In a medium pot, start boiling water. While waiting for the water to boil, chop your cauliflower into small, bite-sized pieces. Once the water has come to a rolling boil, add your chopped cauliflower. Let boil for 6-7 minutes, or until fork tender. When the cauliflower is done, place in blender along with the tomatoes, almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Blend until it becomes a creamy sauce, adding a splash of almond milk if it seems too thick. In a pot (you can use the same one you used for the cauliflower) begin boiling water for the gnocchi. Once it's at a rolling boil, add the gnocchi and let boil for 2-4 minutes (you can tell when gnocchi is done cooking when it floats to the top, so a timer isn't even necessary!). Drain the gnocchi. In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and minced garlic for 2 minutes. Add the gnocchi and desired amount of sauce. Cook until the sauce has become warm and evenly distributed over the gnocchi. Serve with dried or fresh basil as a garnish.
So it didn't taste exactly like my beloved plate of pasta from Bar La Borsa, but it was still really good! I need to figure out how they got that nice deep color in their sauce!