Crispy Gnocchi Summer Salad
Crispy gnocchi salad
We’re right in the thick of summer, the humid July evenings where the grill is always lit and watermelon is expected. Pasta salads are one of those summer staples that are a fun departure from the traditional chips and dip. Prepare to revamp your default cookout contribution with a crispy gnocchi salad. Crisping gnocchi almost transforms it into a whole new ingredient. The little pasta knots achieve a slight crunchiness while remaining chewy. I can only describe this as the same reason I adore fresh baked cookies out of the oven: gooey, tender with a well-done layer to encompass.
I was stopped in my tracks at the discovery of crispy gnocchi. It quickly became my mission to find a way to incorporate this nontraditional approach to these dense dumplings and steer clear of marinara. What became of my little spark was a recipe in which I could accentuate its crispiness while brightening the dish with minimal ingredients that are probably kept well-stocked in your kitchen.
The anatomy of pasta salads often include some variation of pasta, anything from tortellini to orzo, something crunchy like nuts or cabbage, cheese, a handful of mix-ins like dried fruit and a light dressing. In this pasta salad, the crunch factor is present with the asparagus and toasted walnuts. After a spritz of lemon-balsamic vinaigrette and the tomatoes to cool it down a notch, the salad offers a refreshing, balanced meal to enjoy in our Coastal Virginia humidity.
1 lb fresh gnocchi (purchased from Whole Foods)
Olive oil or butter to cook
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Juice from one lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Half a bundle of asparagus
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp capers
Salt and pepper
Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil or butter in a pan on medium high heat. Toss the gnocchi in the butter, then create one even layer. Cook for about 3 minutes a side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a medium serving bowl.
While crisping, make vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. Set aside.
Trim the asparagus ends then cut into about 1-inch long pieces. Toss in the same pan with a drizzle of olive oil on medium heat. Sauté for about 4 minutes so that the asparagus reaches a bright green hue and remains crunchy. Transfer to bowl with gnocchi.
Return to the same skillet, drizzle olive oil and toast walnuts on low to medium heat for a couple minutes, turning to toast evenly.
Add walnuts to bowl along with tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and capers. Drizzle lemon-balsamic vinaigrette. Toss, salt and pepper to taste, and you’re set to feast!
Makes 4 servings