You know Autumn is here when the days get shorter, mornings cooler and the leaves begin to turn all shades of golden. For me though, the most important and exciting part of fall being here is the arrival of wild mushrooms.
Eversince I could walk, or probably even before then, Mum and I would spend many a fall mornings in the woods, looking for gorgeous wild mushrooms. There were plenty of the various boletus types such as cep and porcini, every now and again we’d find a little patch full of chantrelles, which are delicious with chicken, but the most prized find was always the saffron milk cap.
In Australia they are referred to as pine mushrooms and while in Europe they have become one of the rarest finds nowadays, they seem to be in plentiful supply here in Australia. When in season, saffron caps are cheaper than button mushrooms – I picked up my 500g from a grocer in Glebe for $2.99! And they are so much more flavourful, you can taste the forest in them as much as you can taste the sea in a freshly shucked oyster.
For more gnocchi topping ideas click here.
Potato gnocchi with pine mushrooms, peas, asparagus
Pine mushroom’s flavour is intense and flesh meaty, which makes for an excellent accompaniment for pasta, risotto and gnocchi. They are also a perfect mushroom for vegans to make ‘schnitzels’ with, delicious! They can be cooked and frozen in a creamy sauce form, or the sauce pureed and frozen in ice cube trays to be added to sauces and soups later.
For a gluten and dairy free version, use rice flour and dairy-free margarine blend.
- 700g potatoes
- 1 egg
- 1 cup flour + extra
Pine mushrooms, peas, asparagus
- 500g saffron caps
- 250g freshly shelled peas
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp oil
- sea salt and pepper
- parmesan or pecorino to serve
To make the gnocchi, boil potatoes for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain, toss in the pot and place back on low heat for a moment to get rid of excess moisture. Mash using a potato masher until smooth. Set aside to cool down. Once the potatoes are at room temperature, mix in the egg, then sift in the flour. Mix well with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are combined.
Dust a cutting board with some flour. Take a handful of the dough and roll into a 2 cm thick log. Flatten gently then cut on an angle into bite-sized pieces and set aside on another tray. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Place water and a pinch of salt in a large stockpot and bring to the boil. Drop batches of the gnocchi into the water and boil until they float to the surface, this will only take a few moments. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon into a colander. Cool down slightly. You can serve them without frying, and they keep best in the fridge that way – you can then fry them up for serving later or the next day.
To prepare pine mushrooms, brush off any sand, grass or other debris off the mushrooms. Cut into 0.5cm thick slices, then cut into three across. Slice asparagus on the diagonal into 4cm long pieces.
To serve, heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry gnocchi for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove from pan. Heat butter and oil in the same pan until bubbling, add pepper and mushrooms and stir them around. Sprinkle with sea salt. Add asparagus and peas and stir fry for another minute or so.
Serve gnocchi topped with the mushroom mixture and a shaving of parmesan or pecorino cheese if you like.