As is the tradition of many food blogs, I am going to adopt the practice of Meatless Mondays. That means each Monday I will try to post a meatless meal. Going meatless is cheaper (both in points and in dollars), healthier, and is most often much better for the environment. I am going to start with one of my favorites. This is a super-easy “go-to” meal when I don’t have much time to turn out something, but I still want a meal that looks and tastes great. It uses potato gnocchi instead of pasta, which I find more filling and frankly, more interesting. Gnocchi is a small Italian potato dumpling. You’ll find them both dried (in the pasta aisle) and fresh (near where you’d find fresh pasta). They cook up just like pasta. If you don’t like gnocchi you could easily substitute 1 cup of cooked regular pasta per serving and have the points value be exactly the same. Or you could use 1 cup of cooked whole-wheat pasta per serving and save a point.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
- 4 whole portobello mushroom caps (as large as you can find)
- 4 cloves fresh garlic
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 15 oz can peeled San Marzano tomatoes
- 4 Tablespoons high quality pesto*
- 1 packge potato gnocchi
Place the mushrooms cap side down on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle each mushroom with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar. Crush 1 clove of garlic on each mushroom. Set the mushrooms aside. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil for the gnocchi. In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, empty the entire can of tomatoes in and then crush the tomatoes a little bit with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Let the tomatoes cook, stirring frequently, for about 15-20 minutes. Put your mushrooms in the oven and cook for approximately 5-10 minutes or until soft. Watch them closely, they can go from uncooked to burned pretty quickly. Boil the gnocchi according to the package directions (be sure to follow the timing, gnocchi can be gummy if overcooked) and drain. Right before serving, mix the pesto into the tomato sauce. Serve one whole mushroom over a cup of gnocchi topped with 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Makes 4 servings at 6 points each. For one additional point you could add a single tablespoon of freshly grated parmesan cheese (yes, freshly grated makes a HUGE difference) on top of each serving.
*most supermarkets carry fresh ready-made pesto either in the produce section or where other already cooked foods are…like potato salads and the like.
I should give credit to Rachel Ray for inspiring the sauce I use here. I used to make this recipe with either a commercially available jarred sauce or with my own homemade sauce, if I had some in the freezer. I recently saw Rachel use this sauce in a completely different recipe and I realized it was perfect, not only for this, but for anytime you need a quick, flavorful, low point sauce. Her original recipe can be found here..
N.B. One of the guys at my favorite local wine store claims that homemade gnocchi is supereasy and vastly superior to storebought. I must admit I have not tried to make it myself. If you are feeling particularly ambitious and would like to try it, here is a nice instructional video.