Oh man, I hit a jackpot with this one! Pairing fresh spinach with spinach gnocchi seemed a bit silly, but I went ahead anyway because I had a bunch of spinach that I needed to use up. It was a resounding success! The spinach gnocchi came out wonderfully spinachy (well, no surprise there) and much lighter than your typical creamy gnocchi dish. It’s almost as if the spinach act as a sauce–a spinach lover’s dream gnocchi!
It’s in a toasty brown butter sauce, but there isn’t a lot of butter, just a quarter tablespoon per serving. The rest of the oil is olive oil (and not a ton of that, either). Thyme, garlic and amontillado (a sweet, aged sherry) give it a satisfying depth without weighing it down like heavy cream would. Earthy shiitake mushrooms add even more complexity. Try this quick Italian meal when you have a big bunch of fresh, sturdy spinach. (You want the fully grown spinach for this recipe, not the baby ones. Baby spinach doesn’t have enough flavor and gets limp too fast.)
Very Spinachy Spinach Gnocchi with Shiitake & Thyme Brown Butter Sauce
DASH benefits: This spinach gnocchi in thyme butter sauce is a rare gnocchi dish that brings a lot of veggies (half a bunch of spinach in each serving) and not a lot of dairy or oil--relatively speaking. It can be made vegetarian easily, if you skip the butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.
2.5 vegetables & fruits
2 fat & oil
Put a big pot of water on high.
Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold everything. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté on medium heat until softened and fragrant.
Add the shiitake and sauté until the shiitake takes on some brown color. Scrape the thyme leaves off the sprigs and add to the pan.
Add the butter to the pan and let it brown for a few minutes. Be careful not to burn it.
Add the spinach to the pan. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid, and let it cook for a few minutes, until the spinach is deep green and cooked through.
Add the sherry and let its alcohol cook off, with the lid off.
While the spinach cooks, add a generous pinch of salt to the pot of boiling water and add the gnocchi.
Stir occasionally to prevent the gnocchi from sticking to the bottom of the pot (and to each other). Cook, according to the package instruction. (If using fresh gnocchi, it should be about 3-4 minutes.)
Add the gnocchi to the pan of spinach, along with a splash or two of the cooking liquid. Stir to combine. Add more of the gnocchi cooking liquid if the pan is dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Plate and top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Like many other gnocchi and butter-based pasta dishes, this probably won't reheat well. I'd stick to making just enough to finish in one sitting, rather than try to make enough for leftovers.
With all that said… I do have a soft spot for gnocchi in cream sauce. This recipe from Salt & Lavender, which combines similar ingredients (spinach and mushroom) in a cream-based sauce spiked with Italian herbs, Dijon mustard and white wine, sounds loooovely. I might try this someday.