Let it be known, and in case you couldn't already tell...I am not that cool. Nope. Not that cool. On any given Friday night, I am not at some new hip bar or restaurant. Nor a party. Nope. If I have things my way, on a late Friday afternoon, I can be found at Russo's. Now, I hesitate to talk about Russo's on the Internet, because it is already too crowded. So, if you don't know about this place, you should go there. But don't let anyone else in on our little secret.
Russo's is a great market with a wide assortment of produce (fresh water chestnuts, curry leaves, dragon fruit), artisanal cheeses, fresh bread, a bakery, prepared foods, a salad bar, loads of ethnic and specialty goods (fresh harissa!) and a great chocolate aisle. And the prices. Oh, the prices! Yesterday, I bought summer sqaush and zucchini for 29 cents a pound! I was appallingly excited over this.
So, what I like to do at Russo's on a Friday is to be a little spontaneous about things. We usually plan a menu for 4 dinners a week, but you know, sometimes on a Friday, it gets a little wild in the kitchen.
And then we go to bed by 10, having really lived on the edge.
Here is last night's creation. It was wild and wonderful, if I do say so myself. My mom got me hooked on gnocchi growing up, and she always made it like this, with loads of veggies. I have had poor luck eating it in restaurants, because it can be so heavy, but this is nice and light and suitable to be eaten in a heat wave.
Smoky Gnocchi with Plenty of Veggies
About a pound of gnocchi (preferably tri-color)
8 thin slices of turkey bacon
1 large bunch spinach, chopped (about 6-8 cups)
1 large broccoli crown, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely diced
4 tsp olive or canola oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup smoked mozzarella, finely diced
1. Prepare gnocchi according to package directions, in salted water. Before draining, reserve about a cup of the cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, cook up turkey bacon in a non-stick skillet on medium-high.
3. Once the turkey bacon is crisped up, remove it to a plate to cool. Leave the pan on the burner.
4. Add the broccoli to the skillet with about 1/2 cup of water. Turn the heat down to medium. While the broccoli is cooking, crumble or chop the bacon.
5. Once the water has boiled down, add the oil, and heat for 30 seconds.
6. Add the pressed garlic and red pepper flakes, and heat for another 30 seconds, until fragrant.
7. Add the spinach and saute, stirring frequently.
8. Once the spinach is wilted, add the cooked gnocchi to the skillet, and turn the heat up to medium high or to high. Stir frequently. You want to brown the gnocchi a little.
9. Add the starchy gnocchi water to the skillet, and turn the heat up to high. Let the liquid thicken to create a sauce.
10. Turn off the heat, and add the red wine vinegar. Stir through, and add the diced smoked mozzarella and the turkey bacon. You want to heat the cheese through without becoming a stringy mess. Serve immediately.