Aug 27, 2013

Gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and raw cooking are Chef Brian Skinner’s specialty, but he doesn’t discriminate. At his vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver, The Acorn, Brian’s tasty vegetable dishes turn carnivores’ heads too.

Born and raised on the west coast, Brian received formal culinary training at Vancouver Community College before refining his skills throughout Europe and the United States. A champion of the sustainability movement, Brian helped develop the first menu in the world that notes the carbon footprint of each dish at Otarian Restaurant in New York.

Once back in Vancouver, Brain taught at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts and now mans the kitchen at The Acorn.

*Gluten-free Nettle Gnocchi with Morel Mushrooms, Peas, Mint, Pine nuts & Pecorino*


2 pounds russet potatoes
3-4 cups of raw stinging nettle (pureed or juiced)
1-1.5 cups of all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 large egg
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of nutmeg
Olive oil

  1. Pierce potatoes with a fork and bake in a 375F oven for 60-90 minutes until soft.
  2. While potatoes are baking, puree or juice the stinging nettle. Set aside.  
  3. When the potatoes are cooked, immediately cut them in half and scoop out the flesh while it is still hot. If allowed to cool, the resulting gnocchi will be gluey in texture.
  4. Blend the potato flesh in a mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth, then incorporate remaining ingredients (stinging nettle, gluten-free flour, egg, salt and nutmeg), blending until smooth.
  5. The mixture should not be sticky to the touch. If it is, add small increments of additional flour until desired texture is reached.
  6. A ball of dough should have formed. Roll the ball out into a line that is ¾-inch thick. Cut the line into 1-inch long pieces. Dust with flour and place in the fridge to chill.

Your preferred amount of:

Morel mushrooms
Green peas
Pea shoots
Pine nuts
Pecorino cheese
Crème fraiche

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a soft boil.
  2. While the water is heating, slice morel mushrooms in half and lightly sauté in butter with a pinch of salt.
  3. Blanch green peas for 2 minutes in boiling water then add the gnocchi. Boil for 2-3 minutes or until the gnocchi float to the surface. Immediately toss in olive oil to prevent sticking.
  4. Serve together with pine nuts, crème fraiche, pea tendrils and fresh mint leaves.

See Brian cook up other goodies on the Vancouver Magazine Cooking Stage presented by Edible Canada at the Vancouver Home + Design Show on Friday Oct.18 at 4PM.  Purchase your tickets online today and save $3 on regular adult admission.