Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lemon Gnocchi with Shrimp, Spinach and Peas

Gnocchi is one of my favorite Italian dishes. Like bruschetta, it's an Italian food word that people have some trouble with. Never fear, the Italian pronunciation police are here.

The "gno" makes a "nyo" sound with a silent "g".

The "cch" is pronounced as a hard "k".

The "i" is an "ee" sound as in "tree".

"nyo kee"

Gnocchi is the plural form of the word. The singular is "gnocco." So you might order a plate of gnocchi and savor each delicious gnocco on that plate.

Check your local grocery store and you just might find a package of fresh vacuum packed gnocchi near the pasta. These thick and soft dumplings can be made from a variety of ingredients. You will most commonly find Potato Gnocchi, but they are also made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour, bread crumbs, or similar ingredients. The smaller forms are called gnocchetti.

For this recipe, I used a pre-made vacuum pack of gnocchi but I very much want to try making gnocchi from scratch in the near future. Gourmet magazine featured this recipe for Lemon Gnocchi with Spinach and Peas in 2007. The recipe went on to win a blue ribbon award on epicurious where it has consistently received top marks with reviewers. I can tell you exactly why... The ingredient list is fairly short, the active cooking time is about 20 minutes and the flavor medley is freaking fantastic. You have the soft pillows of gnocchi covered in a flavorful cream sauce topped with the zing of fresh lemon and pop of bright peas. It’s truly a winner!

I altered the recipe slightly with the addition of raw shrimp that I purchased deveined and shelled. With a tablespoon of butter melted in my dutch oven, I threw in the shrimp and sauteed until no longer pink.

 Next, I added a chopped shallot and a three chopped garlic cloves.

I added one cup of heavy cream and a 1/2 cup frozen peas.

1/4 teaspoon of dried hot red-pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Then bring to a simmer, stirring often to make sure nothing burns.

 Here is the potato gnocchi I found at my grocery store.

These little dumplings swell when dropped in boiling water, becoming soft pillows of goodness.

While the gnocchi boils, let's finish the sauce. After about five minutes, throw in a lot of spinach, up to three packed cups.

The surprisingly perfect ingredient to the dish is the lemon. First zest the lemon right into the sauce, then cut the lemon in half and squeeze about a tablespoon of juice right in.
The gnocchi will float to the top when done cooking.
Scoop those out as they float to the top.
Add to the sauce.
Top with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
And there is one amazing dish! It's not complicated and it takes no time at all to pull together. This plate is creamy, with zesty lemon notes and sweet peas with healthy spinach. The gnocchi is soft and the shrimp add a great filling component. You know how to tell this is a great dish? I made it twice in one week. TWICE!  I don't repeat recipes very often, just ask Jim. This Lemon Gnocchi with Spinach, Peas and Shrimp just may be my new favorite comfort food.

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