Without a lot of babbling from me, let’s just get to the Weekend Cooler Challenge’s next recipe, shall we? Take it away, Gaylin!
Spinach Gnocchi with Asparagus and Peppered Bacon
Although I’ve taken the pasta plunge and started to make my own ravioli and pasta, I’ve not yet had the time to try gnocchi on my own. The bulk of my gnocchi making experience comes from sitting in an Italian kitchen listening to about three generations of women bicker and laugh and tell stories. That alone makes this little Dutch girl to try and it’s only a matter of time. Until then, however, I get my gnocchi from Tracina’s, a local pasta maker who sells at our farmers market. They’re one of the vendors that cooks samples and lets you try them. In most cases the pasta was made the day before or that morning. When I can’t make my own, this is usually what I buy. Their flavors vary from week to week, ranging from the spinach, which I purchased, to red pepper, plain potato, truffle, and ricotta. There is a vendor at the Charlottesville City Market that sells homemade pasta, sauce, and on some weeks gnocchi. All of it is fantastic! I can’t, for the life of me, remember their name right now, though; so, if anyone knows, please post it in the comments and I’ll link it here!
While the water was coming to the boil for the gnocchi, I chopped half a pound of peppered bacon from John Henry’s and fried it up in the biggest frying pan I own until it was cooked through but not quite crisp. Their bacon is so fresh and meaty that it doesn’t give off a ton of fat, but it was enough to use as the fat in the rest of the dish. Once this was done, I added about a cup of finely chopped leek and continued to cook until it was softened. Into the still-hot pan, I added about a pound of asparagus that I’d chopped into bite-sized pieces (about as long as the tips) and fried it up until it was bright green and crisp tender. I set this aside to cool.
Once the water was at the boil, I dumped in the gnocchi. Because it’s fresh gnocchi, it only takes between 3-5 minutes to finish cooking. I know it’s done when all of them float at the top of the water. I drained these out (saving the water, more on that in a bit) and quickly ran cold water from the tap over them to stop the cooking, then let them drain again thoroughly. Once drained, I added them to the pan with the bacon and asparagus and tossed everything around. I adjusted the seasonings a little with some sea salt and then set it all aside to let it cool completely before I put it in the fridge.
Now, about that water I saved. It was still hot when I drained out the gnocchi, and since I’m all about saving time, I drained the gnocchi so that the water fell right back into the pot I was going to use next for the pasta I was making. I do something similar. It saves time, and it saves water. Also, pasta water makes a great base for soups, or as the liquid for homemade mac and cheese. It can also be used for some breads. If all else fails, it’s great water for my garden (once it cools down, of course)!
The Challenge continues tomorrow, with a squid-ink pasta recipe!