This recipe would make a great vegetarian company meal, especially if you just replaced the fried gnocchi with farfalle (bow-tie pasta). The mushrooms give the sauce a nice meaty flavor and texture, and it's definitely rich enough to be filling. I'll go over the sauce first. This is an amalgamation of several recipes found on www.epicurious.com. I have a few sites I visit when I'm looking for a new recipe, and this one is good for interesting ingredients (like the ones we'd get in our farm share) and for comparing different versions of the same thing.
Start by cleaning 12 oz of shitake mushrooms (you can replace half with cremini, also known as baby portobellos). You'll want to remove the stem (which is very tough) and clean off the tops. I tend to wash my mushrooms, even though they can soak up water. If I'm cooking them, it's okay if they soak up water, and I'd rather be sure to get all the dirt off. You can swish them in a bowl of water, then brush them off with a soft cloth. Slice the caps about 1/4 inch thick. I didn't have any shallots, so I just added about 1/2 a cup of finely chopped onion. Shallots are more mild--if you have them, slice up 1/2 a cup. I also minced 2 cloves of garlic.Heat 2 T butter and 2 T olive oil in a pan over medium high heat--I didn't quite have 12 oz of mushrooms, so I used about 1.5 T of each. Using a mixture of butter and oil gives you the flavor of butter without the danger of burning it as easily. Once butter is melted and starting to brown, add the mushrooms and onions/shallots.Cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. At this point, I added about 1/2 a cup of sherry. Sherry and mushrooms go really well together, and if you cook off most of the liquid, you get the flavor without much alcohol. White wine would also work, but you can just use chicken broth if you prefer.Once the sherry is cooked down, add 1/2-3/4 cup chicken broth (more if you like your sauce on the soupy side). If you're using homemade broth, you can add some salt here. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Add 1-2 T chopped fresh sage, or 1-2 teaspoons dried sage. Now, the tasty and delicious part...heavy cream. I just poured some in, but I'd go with 1/2-1 cup, depending on how rich you like things and how much sauce you want. Leave the pan on the heat until the sauce is warmed through, salt and pepper to taste, and pour over the gnocchi or pasta. Garnish with extra sage and you're set.
Start with a pot of boiling salted water. Add the frozen gnocchi and, once all the gnocchi have floated to the top, cook for one minute. I like to fish them out with a strainer, rather than dumping them in a colander. They are a little delicate.When you add the gnocchi to the water, add 2 T butter to a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Try to choose one large enough to fit the gnocchi in a single layer. Once the butter has melted, add the gnocchi. The recipe I have says "cook, shaking the pan occasionally to turn the gnocchi, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes". Mine didn't work out quite that well...they stuck to the pan. I think the key is to watch them and flip them over with a spatula if they start to stick. I was in the middle of the sauce recipe and didn't pay attention as well as I should have. So mine ended up more on the brown side than golden. Still, the interplay between the creamy, rich mushroom sauce and the slightly crunchy, buttery gnocchi was pretty tasty. :)