Last month, CNN reported that “mushrooms are the new grocery aisle celebrities.” CNN notes that, according to the American Mushroom Institute, “Monthly US mushroom production has surged to an all-time high,” and heightened demand has led to an increase in retail prices for the humble fungus. Although this trend could be attributed to the growing traction of plant-based diets, Steven Muro of Fusion Marketing notes that “the demand for fresh mushrooms is no fad;” consumption of mushrooms has steadily ticked up over the past decade, and the National Restaurant Association even crowned mushrooms as the top produce item of 2020.
The mushroom, an oft-misunderstood and polarizing fungus, can elicit a wide range of reactions. Some regard mushrooms (and products like truffle oil) as a delicacy; others can’t stand the taste or texture. Me? I’m on team mushroom. In college, my one little luxury was stocking my pantry with waxy red bags of Trader Joe’s Organic White Truffle Potato Chips (one of the only brands I’ve found to really hit the nail on the head with authentic truffle flavor).
Although I’m an age-old fan of all things truffle, I’ve only just begun to explore the beauty and depth of mushrooms. As I recently embraced a plant-forward diet, I’ve swapped deeply caramelized mushrooms for meat in pasta dishes; mushroom-tofu stir fry has become a staple in my weeknight dinner routine. But one of my favorite mushroom recipes to date has to be Southern Living’s Winter Vegetables and Gnocchi.
I love this dish for many reasons, but a main one has to be its endless versatility. Just from the title of the recipe, “Winter Vegetables and Gnocchi,” you can tell that there’s room for customization. View this recipe more like a formula with a few key categories: Gnocchi + squash + mushroom + allium. From there, feel free to get creative.
Lighten it up by switching potato gnocchi out for the infamous Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi. No butternut squash on hand? Use diced sweet potato. Trade halved cremini mushrooms for torn shiitakes. (It pains me to say this, but if you’re in the anti-mushroom camp, feel free to leave out the mushrooms entirely.) You can swap frozen pearl onions for freshly sliced half-moons of yellow onion like I did. Whatever you do, don’t miss the thickly shredded flakes of Parmigiano-Reggiano, which deliver a hit of salt and umami that complements the roasted mushrooms. If you swap the butter for olive oil and forgo the Parmesan (sad!), this simple dinner recipe can even be vegan.
My version of Gnocchi with Winter Vegetables. I used sweet potato gnocchi and added kale.
Aside from the dish’s potential for customization, I must note that it is supremely easy. Once you coat all the veggies in olive oil (pre-cut butternut squash for convenience, mushrooms, and onions) and toss them on a sheet pan, just let them roast for around 20 minutes until they’re nice and tender. You don’t even have to preheat the oven beforehand—simply let the vegetables cook as the oven comes to a high temp (450°F).
While many gnocchi brands will direct you to boil the potato puffs in a pot of water (like you would traditionally treat pasta), I’ve had more success cooking gnocchi in a skillet with a couple teaspoons of water. Once the water mostly evaporates, let the gnocchi toast and crisp in some butter. From there, add in all your roasted veggies; to really pack in the nutrients, toss in a handful of kale at the last minute, letting it wilt just so in the light butter sauce. Spoon it out into bowls and top your loaded gnocchi with freshly shaved Parmesan and chopped parsley. That’s really all it takes (30 minutes!) to complete this weeknight wonder that’ll leave you feeling full and satisfied.
WATCH: 5 Tips to Keep Your Mushrooms Fresh
5 Tips to Keep Your Mushrooms Fresh
Every wonder why your mushrooms get slimy and gross so quickly? Here are some easy to follow tips that show you exactly how you should store your mushrooms when you bring them home from the grocery store or the farmers market.
So next time you’re eyeing those fresh mushrooms in the produce aisle, give this wholesome recipe for Winter Vegetables and Gnocchi a try. Let me know how it goes (and please share any all-star spin-offs of your own).