Gnocchi with Asparagus and Ham in Cream Sauce

I was walking through World Market with Brett and his mom a few weeks back and decided to buy something that has tempted me many a time…fresh gnocchi. For those of you who don’t know, gnocchi is basically a mashed potato noodle, much like a dumpling. I wasn’t able to find many recipes online that include gnocchi and I think this sort of intimidated me a bit. Finally, I decided to do my own creation and give it a whirl (after getting a teeny bit of inspiration from other recipes.)

My first question was, tomato- or cream-based sauce? Always a fan of butter and milk, I chose cream-based. What sort of meats? Chicken is white, and the gnocchi is white, so that wasn’t enough color for me. Pork and beef didn’t seem right. Shrimp sounded great, but I didn’t want to dish out the cash if only cooking for myself. So I chose cubed ham. What sort of veggies? Asparagus, heck yeah! Mushrooms, you bet. And I had an onion I needed to use, so I threw that in too. Other than that, a simple roux with some milk and white wine was all I needed to pull it together.

The verdict? Very good but…different. I am used to dumplings in soup, but not so much as a main dish. I would be interested in knowing Bobby Flay’s opinion of this dish – I mean, it’s not totally wild and I think the crunchy asparagus is a nice contrast to the soft gnocchi. But maybe I went overboard with the wine? Who knows. If nothing else, go buy yourself some gnocchi and have fun with it. Isn’t cooking all about experimentation? I’m looking forward to leftovers tonight, so I consider that success!

Gnocchi with Asparagus and Ham in Cream Sauce

Small onion, diced

8-10 stalks of asparagus, cut in half

8 oz sliced mushrooms

20 oz fresh gnocchi

1 C cubed ham
3/4 C chicken broth
1/2 C milk

3 TBS olive oil

1 TBS butter

1 TBS flour
2 TBS white wine

salt, pepper, sage, lemon juice and parmesan to taste

1. Heat oil in large skillet. Saute onion, asparagus and mushrooms until onion is translucent.

2. Cook gnocchi as directed (it’s done when they float to the top, 3-4 mins. Do not overcook!)

3. In the skillet, push the veggies to the side. Put butter and flour in the center and stir with a whisk until the flour has no clumps. Add white wine, and stir everything for 30 seconds while white wine evaporates.

4. Add chicken broth and milk. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice and sage (roughly 1/2 tsp. dried sage and 1/4 tsp. lemon juice.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmering and let sauce thicken for several minutes. Add gnocchi and ham, heat through and serve immediately. Top with parmesan before serving.

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