Some days you just need a hug.
Maybe your inbox at work has grown to such epic proportions, you’re beginning to fear it might actually crush you- physically- like a bug.
Maybe you’re feeling sad and scared and anxious about humanity. Hate is trending, and watching the news makes you feel small and overwhelmed and pessimistic.
Maybe you’ve finally resigned yourself to sleep training your infant daughter, because the lack of sleep is making you loopy- short term pain for long term gain, but an unpleasant task nonetheless.
Maybe it’s all of these things.
That’s what we’re making today, a food hug. It doesn’t contain any cheese, which is my usual go-to Food Happy Place, but it is the perfect balance of warm and hearty, sweet and sour, carbs and veggie, nutty and peppery. A hug.
Gnocchi can be heavy, no doubt about it, but since we’re cutting any heavy sauces here, it’s lifted up (just like your spirits?) by a bright but toasty vinaigrette. Sherry vinegar and grainy mustard giving us the one-two punch of acid and earthiness, bay and thyme adding depth and a lingering woody fragrance and finally, the kicker- brown butter. I love brown butter for it’s inherent nuttiness but also it’s secret sweetness, an excellent foil to the rest of the flavours in play here.
To prevent this dish from weighing you down (no one likes a hug where someone hangs on you, it should be a mutually beneficial embrace)- fresh arugula and parsley- not to be skipped. These two greens brighten everything up. While some gnocchi dishes have had me groaning with richness half way through, this one stays fresh and eternally munchable from these peppery greens. It’s important, don’t skip ’em.
Update: The day after we started sleep training my daughter slept through the night for a solid 11 hours and woke up the happiest baby on earth. It was either the white noise machine playing soothing rain sounds or whispers of this gnocchi in her breastmilk- we’ll never know for sure 😉
|Roasted Winter Vegetables & Pan-fried Gnocchi with Brown Butter Vinaigrette|| |
- 2 carrots, cut into roughly uniform ¼" thick sticks
- 2 parsnips, cut into roughly uniform ¼" thick sticks
- 1 small beet, peeled and cut into thin rounds
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 500g potato gnocchi
- 1 Tbsp pine nuts
- ¼ cup fresh baby arugula leaves
- 1 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, leaves picked
- Brown Butter Vinaigrette:
- 4 Tbsp salted butter
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 Tbsp grainy mustard
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 374 degrees. Toss carrots, parsnips and beet slices in olive oil and season with a touch of salt and pepper. Bake in a small roasting tray for 20-25 minutes, until the carrots are tender when speared with a fork (this could take a little less or more time, depending on the size of your pieces).
- Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan, add the bay leaf, and continue to cook over medium heat until browned and toasty, watching it closely and swirling it around frequently so it does not burn. Once the butter is light brown in colour and giving off a toasty fragrance, turn the heat down to low and whisk in the thyme, vinegar, mustard and pepper. Remove the whole bay leaf then remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.
- In a large frying pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter then add the gnocchi, making sure they all lie in a single layer across the bottom of the pan. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes without stirring or tossing so they have a chance to brown, then give them a toss so that they can brown on the other side (this doesn't need to be done super meticulously, just give them a toss every couple minutes and the other sides will colour up a little too). Once the gnocchi looks nice and browned, add the pine nuts and continue to toast for one more minute- the pine nuts will toast much quicker than the gnocchi so we're just looking to get a touch of colour on them and activate their toasty, rich flavour.
- Add the roasted veggies to the gnocchi pan and then the brown butter vinaigrette. Give the whole mixture a quick toss and then remove the pan from the heat. Add in the arugula leaves and parsley and serve immediately.