Gnocchi is but one of many magnificent wonders to have come out of Italian cooking. For some reason, though, it seems these gems always come in second after pasta, which is a pity because if cooked right, these delicately soft silky-smooth Italian potato dumplings can send you straight to heaven. Believe me, I’ve been there! And this warm gnocchi and greens salad is definitely a good way to gnocchi self-indulgence.
Truly, I could easily eat Italian food every day. I really love pasta, and Italian cooking is very honest. It’s filled with fresh ingredients and what you see is what you get. The only downside is that if I ate pasta every day, I’d end up 10 lbs heavier in a month. So what to do about this conundrum? Well, gnocchi actually isn’t bad for you. In fact, since its main ingredient is potato, it’s rich in amino acids, fiber and vitamin C. The trick is to add other things that are also very good for you and rich in taste, so you don’t overeat on the gnocchi only.
This dish is filled with good-for-you greens and herbs, it’s full of taste and it gives you that feeling of self-indulgence while still being healthy. Serve the salad on its own when you feel like skipping meat, or as a side for a piece of roasted chicken or fish. It also works really well as a leftover salad for the next day. And feel free to experiment with the veggies. I’d always add the roasted tomatoes, but the other greens can easily be switched depending on mood or what’s in season.
Planning to do a buffet?
This gnocchi and greens salad works really well as an addition to other dishes, whether they be meat, fish or other salads. Here are a couple of suggestions for buffet combinations:
Warm gnocchi salad with lots of garden greens (serves 3-4 as a main or 6 as a side)
1 lbs (500 g) gnocchi, preferably with kale, spinach, beetroot or other veggie, or, simply plain if you prefer
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions (5-7), coarsely chopped
2/3 lbs (250 g) French green beans, yellow beans, green asparagus or a mix, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 lbs (200 g) edamame beans (frozen are fine)
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
3-4 tbsp canola (rapeseed) oil
1/2 lbs (200 g) roasted red tomatoes (ready made) or 1 lbs (500 g) fresh grape or cherry tomatoes (see recipe below for instructions on how to roast them yourself). Whatever you do, don’t use sundried tomatoes, as they will be way too leathery and gooey.
If you make your own roasted tomatoes: 2-3 pinches of sugar as well as olive oil, salt and pepper
3.5 oz (100 g) Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, shredded into thin flakes
1 large bunch fresh cilantro (coriander)
Optional: Lemon zest
Olive oil or lemon infused olive oil
Salt and pepper
Roasted tomatoes (if you don’t buy them ready made):
1. Turn on the oven to 350 F (175 C). Rinse the tomatoes in water, dry them and cut them into halves. Put the half tomatoes with the cut side up on a baking tray clad with baking parchment.
2. Drizzle with a few pinches of sugar, salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil and put in the oven once it’s warm. Bake for about 30 min., or until the tomatoes are slightly brown at the edges. Take out of the oven and leave to cool.
1. Fill a cooking pot with water and 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cook the gnocchi according to the instructions on the pack. (Usually no more than 5 min.) Make sure the gnocchi don’t go mushy. Let them drain off the water and maybe pour over a bit of cold water. Leave until the veggies are cooked.
2. While the gnocchi are cooking, heat up the canola oil in a large frying pan or sauté pan. Once warm, throw in the sliced fennel, scallions and garlic. Stir for a few minutes and then add the rest of the veggies. Fry and stir for about 10 min. Adjust the heat so the veggies don’t brown. The veggies should be cooked but firm, not all soft and flaccid.
3. Add the cooked gnocchi to the fried greens and stir for a minute or two. Then add the roasted tomatoes and stir for another minute. Season with salt and pepper. Take off the heat and coarsely chop up the cilantro and pour in along with lemon zest if you’d like to add that.
4. Pour the warm gnocchi and greens into a large serving bowl and drizzle the flaked Parmesan or Pecorino on top. Also give it a generous drizzle of olive oil and an extra churn of freshly ground pepper. Serve with freshly baked bread or a roasted piece of fish or chicken as you like. Or, see suggestions at the top for good buffet pairings with this salad.