Thursday, June 4, 2009

gnocchi with vegetables and cannellini beans

I like frozen gnocchi.  A lot.  It took me awhile to discover these tasty morsels.  See, I have enjoyed gnocchi in restaurants for a very long time (a particular favorite is at Max SoHa in NYC).  But whenever I made it at home, I used dried gnocchi and it was always disgusting.  Then, one day last year, I serendipitously happened upon a bag of frozen gnocchi in a grocery store near my last apartment in Harlem.  I happily discovered that frozen gnocchi has a tender, fluffy suppleness that rivals fresh gnocchi.  And while I readily admit that frozen gnocchi isn't better than fresh, it is an adequate substitute (at least until I attempt to make gnocchi from scratch!).  

I hadn't made any gnocchi dishes for awhile, but was recently inspired and decided to have a go. It was a success, and I am sure I will be making many more gnocchi dishes in the near future.
This dish was inspired by a picture that I saw in a magazine.  I didn't read the accompanying recipe; I just saw a picture of gnocchi with zucchini and tomatoes, and this was born.  (Sorry for my questionable units of measurement.)

gnocchi with vegetables and cannellini beans

chop up: 1 medium zucchini, 1 medium carrot, 6 campari tomatoes, 2 spring onions, 6 cloves of garlic, fresh basil (about 8 leaves), and most of a container of baby bella mushrooms.

You will later add a few generous handfuls of fresh baby spinach, a can of cannellini beans, some wine, black pepper, scant tablespoon sugar, 1/3 jar of tomato sauce, and a package of frozen gnocchi.

Put a pot of salted water on to boil.  Over another burner on medium to medium-high heat, give a skillet two turns of olive oil.  Let it heat up and add the zucchini and carrots.  Cook them for a few minutes, then add the garlic, spring onions and mushrooms.  Cook that a little longer and add the tomatoes.  Drain a can of cannellini beans and dump them in.  Add black pepper to taste.  If you have about a cup of wine leftover, then by all means, pour that in (I emptied a bottle of Chardonnay).  If you think it needs it, sprinkle a scant tablespoon of sugar in as well.  Let that all simmer until the vegetables are just tender; overcooking vegetables makes them mushy, which will ruin just about any dish.  Pour off--or ladle out-- some of the extra juice.  Add in 1/3 jar of tomato sauce (I used some cheap Classico sauce).  Finally, throw in the spinach and fresh basil leaves.  Stir well until the spinach is just starting to wilt.  Cover and remove from heat. Let it sit and finish steaming the spinach while you prepare the gnocchi.

Prepare the gnocchi according to package directions.  Do NOT overcook-- it really does only take about 2 minutes, and they're done as soon as they float to the top.  Drain them immediately and stir them into the vegetable mix.  And you're ready to eat!  I topped mine with parmigiano-reggiano.

Obviously, this was a very loose recipe and there's lots of room for improvisation with your own culinary creativity!  Enjoy!

The pictures are: 
1.  The vegetables simmering in in their own juices and wine, before removing some of the liquid and adding the beans and tomato sauce.
2.  The completed sauce as I took it off the heat to finish steaming.
3.  yummy supper.


Jonathan said...

This looks amazing. I'm going to stop by Fairway on my way home tonight. A full bottle of Chardonnay sounds like a bit much, however.

C. GeeRoo said...

I will be making this soon! I want to eat it now...

Tell me how it goes, Jonathan.

Lauren said...

You have NO IDEA how happy it makes me and what a ginormous grin I've had on my face since discovering that I inspired you guys.

Jonathan, I realize that what I wrote wasn't clear about the Chardonnay. I kinda sorta left it that way on purpose because it made me giggle.

The only thing that makes me sad about the whole thing is that I had to show it to you in pictures instead of cooking it for you. We need to have an urban family dinner on my way to Hungary in July, I think!

Pam said...

I was there and it was wonderful!!!