* can be made vegetarian style!
1 package center-cut bacon, diced (omit for veg/vegan)
1 package prepared gnocchi
1 bunch baby bok choy, washed and chopped
8 dates, pitted and quartered
2 small white onions, diced
3 tablespoons e.v.o.o.
8 sprigs fresh thyme, de-stemmed
1 tablespoon butter
salt to taste
0.5 teaspoon red pepper flakes
grated parmesan cheese
listening to: billie holiday – love me or leave me
toasted gnocchi earned a spot in my “top five revelations” category last year. i don’t know why it took me so long to find out about it, but i can tell you it took a helluva lot less time for me to attempt the dish at home. the crispy exterior and its soft, potato-y goodness of an interior provide a base that goes with almost any flavor your culinary heart could envision.
this recipe was inspired by an AMAZING take on toasted gnocchi served with grilled peaches and pancetta i tried at a local restaurant called vivace. since peaches are tough to find year round, i decided to mimic the salty/sweet with bacon and dates. fresh figs are delicious, but they won’t hold up well when tossed alongside many other ingredients, so dates work the best.
the first key with toasted gnocchi is to slightly undercook when it’s initally boiled. this is tough to manage because it takes all of two minutes to cook through, so you have to be really mindful of not letting it become too mushy.
i began by cooking the diced bacon on medium low heat until it became crispy. don’t overcook the bacon, but be careful not to leave any of it rubbery and underdone. set aside the cooked bacon on a plate with a paper towel to draw out the rest of the oil. save one tablespoon of the rendered bacon grease for later.
prepare the gnocchi according to the package directions, but remove it from the boiling water a bit sooner than suggested. drain the gnocchi thoroughly. in a large pan, heat 3 tablespoons of e.v.o.o. to medium high. toss in the cooked and drained gnocchi, and make sure your pan gives the gnocchi plenty of room without looking overcrowded. turn the gnocchi periodically so as to allow it to toast in the olive oil. if you stir too frequently, you will fail to achieve the browned, crispy exterior of deliciousness intended. be patient and vigilant – it’s easy to burn the gnocchi. towards the end of the toasting process, add 1 tablespoon of bacon grease to the gnocchi – the flavor will be awesome.
now, add the 2 chopped onions, 1 tablespoon of butter, 0.5 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 8 sprigs of fresh thyme that have been de-stemmed. once the onions begin turning translucent, lower the heat to medium low. throw in the cooked bacon and the seeded and quartered dates.
finally, add the chopped bok choy. i have used swiss chard before, but i prefer the taste of the bok choy juxtaposed alongside the dates. it’s really an amazing flavor and texture combination. add salt to taste and serve the gnocchi with grated parmesan cheese.
this is a dish that absolutely makes you look as though you worked a lot harder than you actually did. people are impressed, and it’s ridiculously easy to pull off. it’s also great for unexpected company and dinner parties, as it holds up pretty well.
forget your routine spaghetti dinner and try this dish out. i’ll be damned surprised if it doesn’t look, smell, and taste divine.