RECIPE: Spring Veggie, Bacon and Mushroom Gnocchi
It's spring! Time to get shopping locally and see what's in season. And what's in season? Peas and asparagus!
I love spring dishes. Young, green, baby vegetables have so many nutrients and yet are tender and fresh. Look for the local and "in season" sections in your grocery store to see what's getting harvested in your area. Even the big chains are trying to answer consumers' want for more local ingredients.
This dish comes together pretty fast, especially if you have everything "mis en place" (For you non French fancy pants chefs, that means 'everything in it's place, chopped and ready to go'.) This dish is light, considering there is bacon and cream (no, really!). The cream is just 1/4 cup for the whole dish, and it's just to bind the sauce and give it some richness. And you drain all the fat out of the pan from the bacon, except for a little bit. If you want the dish even lighter, you can skip the bacon and just use olive oil to cook the vegetables.
Spring Veggie, Bacon and Mushroom Gnocchi
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed and chopped
1 cup spring peas, fresh or frozen/defrosted
4 oz. baby spinach, roughly chopped
4 oz. mixed, sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
red pepper flakes and grated parmesan cheese for garnish
1 lb. fresh or frozen gnocchi
In a large sauté pan, cook the bacon until crispy. Take out the bacon and reserve for later, and drain all but a Tbsp. of fat out of the pan. Put back on the heat, set your heat to medium and add the garlic and shallots. Cook until beginning to soften and brown. Add the asparagus, and cook for 5 minutes, until they begin to soften.
Next add the mushrooms and cook. Keep stirring and when the mushrooms begin to release their juices, add the peas. After a few minutes the peas will being to soften, then add the broth to meld everything together and create the sauce base.
Season with salt and pepper. While the liquid is cooking down for a few minutes, cook the gnocchi in boiling water according to package directions-usually 2-3 minutes. Have it drained and waiting.
Once your broth has been cooked down a bit, add the spinach, cooked bacon and gnocchi. Give everything a good stir, and add the cream. Toss a couple times to combine, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and voila! Serve with extra Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes on the side if guests want a touch of heat.