Treasure Chest Thursday Recipe: Gnocchi with Spinach & Pine Nuts

IMG_3708How have I not written about this meal yet?  This meal is regularly requested and I try to keep the ingredients on hand as it is a great way to use up a green that has been sitting around a little too long.  I tend to make this recipe most often with spinach, but I have been known to toss in some chard, kale, arugula, or even collard greens.

This recipe is definitely worthy of being a Treasure Chest Thursday post.  This is one of those simple meals that has just the right amount of flavor.  It is quick and easy to prepare making it a great weeknight (aka school night) meal.

As I am writing this post I really hope my search feature is working, as I could have sworn I have already posted this recipe but each time I have searched it comes up empty for gnocchi.  I guess I have written it in my head more than once because as I am typing the thoughts sound too familiar.  I have always been a fan of gnocchi since I first had it in a pesto dish years ago.  It has also been one of those items I swear I will try and make one day, but last winter I tried what I thought would be the easier version of gnocchi to make – gnudi.  Well turns out either I totally bombed the recipe or I really did not like gnudi.

I have never seen gnudi on a menu but I keep telling myself I have to try it again and try it somewhere out to see if it was me, the recipe or if I am just not a fan of gnudi.   Gnudi is really just gnocchi made with ricotta rather than potato. The mere switch to ricotta, an ingredient I love makes me worried it was me rather than the gnudi.  I have never brought myself to make gnocchi as I am not a big fan of complex recipes with a lot of steps.  Really to make gnocchi you then have to also prepare a meal using it.  Not my favorite type of cooking.  Besides after the gnudi incident a part of me thought maybe store bought is just what I prefer when it comes to pasta.  Now don’t get me wrong I have had fresh made gnocchi as well as the vacuum packed that is great for keeping on hand and I like them both.  It is just another excuse I keep giving myself on why I do not want to try to make gnocchi from scratch.

Enough of my gnocchi and gnudi tangent.  Okay one last thing what fun words.  I wonder if anyone has ever named their animals gnocchi and gnudi – filing that idea away for when I finally have to give in to a fish or something that comes in pairs.  I can just picture two cute little dogs with those names, but we have one cute little dog now and that is ample, especially since she is not high on my list this morning.  Really now enough on to the recipe that is a treasure chest recipe in our house.IMG_3701

Gnocchi with Spinach & Pine Nuts

1 pkg gnocchi (16oz.)*

6 Tbsp. butter

4 Tbsp Toasted Pine Nuts**

3 Garlic Cloves, minced

1 1/2 – 2 bags Fresh Baby Spinach

1/4 tsp Black Pepper, optional

Parmesan Cheese, as desired

 Directions

Cook Gnocchi in boiling water according to package directions, about 5 minutes.  Omit any salt or oil.  Drain.

In a skillet over medium heat melt butter  and cook approximately 3-5 minutes stirring constantly.  The butter needs to start to turn golden brown.  Add garlic and pine nuts to pan and continuing stirring for 1 minute.  Add gnocchi and spinach and cook stirring occasionally until spinach wilts.  Season with pepper if desired.  I like to decrease my stirring once spinach is almost wilted and try to get the gnocchi to brown slightly.  Serve with parmesan cheese on top as desired.IMG_3706

IMG_3707

* I prefer whole wheat gnocchi, but any type works

** I use pre toasted pine nuts from Trader Joe’s, but if yours are not toasted add the pine nuts with the butter so they toast while the butter is browning.

Adapted from a recipe that appeared in Cooking Light MagazineIMG_3708

 

 

Advertisements

Treasure Chest Thursday: Any Season Salad

IMG_3737Being a salad person, I have about ten salads that we rotate through as main meal salads depending on the season and the local produce available.  In a recent post, I told of never having made a chopped salad until recently.  I need to apologize as apparently I told a small little story.  I have been making a chopped style salad for years without realizing it and this is a salad that can be made any season.

Many years ago, when valentine’s day was more about two of us than three of us, I planned out Valentine’s Date.  It was actually an evening at home.  I happened upon a cookbook that sort of set the evenings plans into play.  Intercourses, yes go ahead laugh a little as we have, but that is the name of the book.  It is a cookbook that focuses on aphrodisiac foods and recipes that incorporate them.   I am not sure how much I believe in the power of food in romance, but the book includes a lot of my favorite foods – avocado, chilis, pine nuts, strawberries, and more.

Anyway cute little me thought how fun to cook a meal based on some of these recipes and give the book as a gift.

Over the years we have tried several of the recipes in the book.  There are others that I have not been brave enough to try, partly due to their uniqueness and my uneasiness that Mr. Mixture wouldn’t enjoy.  Mr. Mixture’s taste have definitely grown and he is always willing to try new things I make, so maybe I will get adventurous.  Anyway one of the first recipes, I tried was a salad that included pine nuts.

Pine nuts are said to be “a deft kernel of love.”  Apparently the northwestern Himalayas are said to have one of the highest birthrates and they relate it to pine nuts and their power to increase fertility.

Being that I can never follow a recipe or so Mr. mixture seems to think, dinner became this one night.  It began as a side salad, but I turned it into a wonderful main meal.  A salad that would become a treasure chest recipe for us.

Any Season Salad

3-4 Cups Mixed Greens, Dark Leaf Lettuce, or Butter Lettuce, Chopped

1 avocado, peeled and chopped

1 tomato, chopped

4 Tbsp. Toasted Pine Nuts

1/2 cup Alfalfa Sprouts

1/4 cup minced Red Onion

1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped

3 Tbsp. Mozzarella Cheese, grated or chopped

1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

1-2 Chicken Breast, grilled or baked and cut into chunks*

* I marinate the chicken in olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, dried basil, lemon juice

IMG_3724IMG_3726IMG_3729IMG_3730

Toss all ingredients into a large salad bowl and toss well.  You can either add the chicken to the salad or top individual salads as desired.  This salad is also versatile in the moisture from the vegetables allows the salad to toss nicely and decrease the amount of dressing needed.  You can choose to toss with the dressing to serve or allow individuals to dress to their desired taste.

Dressing 

2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar

4 tsp Dijon Mustard

2 tsp Honey

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

6 Tbsp Olive Oil

Whisk all ingredients together.

Printable Recipe and Nutrition info here

IMG_3731IMG_3723IMG_3736

Kale Salad

When we first started eating kale about two years ago I had no idea what to do with it.  Since then I have used it in just about everything we make just as I would spinach, but we still seem to enjoy this basic Kale Salad.  It is simple and my go to salad if I have fresh kale.  I am not sure recipes can get much easier than this.

Simple Kale Salad

1 bunch of Kale or as much as you think you want to make.*

Lemon Juice – whatever you have on hand (juice of a fresh lemon or the bottled stuff approx. 1 Tbsp.)

Olive Oil – 1-2 Tbsp depending on the amount of Kale

Chili Powder, about ½ – 1 tsp. this can vary based on amount of Kale and your taste preference.

** just for Little Miss Mixture toss some dried cranberries in

 Toss all ingredients together to ensure Kale is coated and enjoy.

 *Kale unlike many other greens does not get limp. It withstands olive oil better than its relatives. So you can easily make a larger batch of this and allow it to hang out in the refrigerator for a day or two or you can eat it all at once.

Simple Kale Salad

 

“It’s a Family Tradition”

 

Treasure Chest Thursday

Here it is Thursday and some how I have been wishing the week away without realizing it.  Do you ever have those weeks that you just seem off.  Not once but three times yesterday I mistakingly thought it was Thursday.  No please the last thing I need is this week to be over.  I have a ton of things to do, my calendar is busier than usual with at least two to three things each day for the next five days and the most overwhelming is get ready for Spring Break.

I am not complaining though the sun is out, though it is a little brisk, the day is going to be beautiful.  Beautiful days make everything seem better because when the sun is shining, it is just easier to smile.

Today is my dad’s birthday and my dad has always been a great role model and support for me.  We will not be celebrating this year with him as he and my mom are off on an adventure.  They are somewhere in Texas celebrating on a dude ranch.  In honor of his birthday, I thought I would pull out a favorite that reminds me of my dad.

Remember I said in my “let’s have mixture” post I have become more southern as I age. Well indeed I have, but my roots have always been there.  Dad grew up on a farm in a small Tennessee town. A true southern boy born and bred.  Though never had grits until I was 25, and I was never and will never eat  vegetables that have been cooked to a slow death.  I did enjoy a few southern traditions… Fried Okra has always been a favorite.

Truth be known I never ate okra any other way  (see family is great I did not know okra could be done anyway but fried and who eats cookie dough that has actually been cooked.) When I began cooking for myself I started trying okra in a variety of ways.  I really enjoy grilling the little green things, but fried food is never bad at least in how it taste.  As my dad has always said “a little grease never hurt…everyone needs some grease some time.”

Fried Okra may not be the healthiest way to include this vegetable in your diet, but okra has some great health benefits.  A serving of okra is approximately 1 cup.  In that one  cup you only take in 33 calories (depending on the preparation) but you gain 10% of your recommended Fiber intake, 27% of Vitamin C intake, and 11% of your Folate for a day.

So Happy Birthday Dad! This one is for you

Fried Okra (Dad’s) Style

Dad was the cook when it came to foods like this and he would get out his trusted cast iron skillet, a kitchen staple that every southern cook owns.  A staple I have learned to love over the past five years.  This recipe, or lack of one is definitely coming from a treasure chest.  It is one of those foods that has been passed down from his mother and grandmother, but it is word of mouth no true recipe.

I do not recall any batter being used he simply cut the okra in 1/2″ -1″ inch thick slices and tossed them in the hot oil of a cast iron until they we nice and crispy. Often there was some diced onion tossed in as well or the okra was added to another southern favorite fried potatoes and it was all served together.

Image

Simple Southern Goodness.

Does your family have recipes like this or foods you prepare that just get done out of tradition? I can hear it in my head now ” I’m just carryin’ on an old family tradition”

Sorry no pictures of my own as I am anxiously awaiting Okra to come into season.  In our house nowadays we eat okra in a variety of ways.  Wait until this girl fires up the grill and tosses them on whole.

*photo borrowed from bfeedme.com