Gnocchi with herb yogurt sauce
With the warm weather comes an uptick in activities penciled into the calendar. At least in my schedule. Winter makes me want to hibernate under thick blankets, but in the summer, the long days aren’t nearly long enough to fit in everything I want to do.
Summer also means a slow-down in cooking and meal preparation: I’m not one to linger behind a hot stove when my gardens are calling me. Besides, summer’s beautiful vegetables and fruits are at their best with minimal intervention — hours braising in a scorching oven (heating up both house and brow) will be set aside until autumn.
Fast dishes with fresh ingredients take over from May through September.
Spring has been chilly and rainy here, but my herbs, I must say, are magnificent. Although the easiest to grow of all my crops, they bring daily benefits to my cooking all summer long (and how pleasing it is, to have a panoply of fresh, fragrant herbs just outside my kitchen door to pluck as I need).
Coconut milk has replaced dairy milk in all my dressings and sauces. Its light flavor, belied by its substantial structure, makes a lovely dressing base. And unlike dairy milk, which becomes ranch-y in the face of a hearty herbal infusion, a mixture of coconut milk and tangy Greek yogurt lets herbs shine, producing something delicate but immensely flavorful.
Quick cooking gnocchi is a year-round favorite, and takes very nicely to a variety of sauces, including this herb yogurt sauce. Sauteed with leeks — or, as spring progresses, shallots — and topped with crunchy pistachios, this side-dish staple becomes the star of the meal.
Gnocchi with herb yogurt sauce
The sauce is best when made at least 2 hours ahead — overnight, even better. I prefer a dill- and cilantro- heavy sauce, but you can change it up with your favorites
- for the herb yogurt sauce:
- 6 ounce can coconut milk
- 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, roughly chopped
- 4 or 5 medium leaves fresh basil, sliced
- 4 or 5 chive stalks, chopped
- 1 small green onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- for the gnocchi:
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 ounces vegetarian bacon (crumbled) or pancetta (chopped)
- 1 medium leek, sliced thinly
- 16 ounces gnocchi (homemade or prepared)
- herb yogurt sauce recipe (below)
- 1/4 cup pistachios, crushed
- prepare the yogurt sauce: measure all ingredients into a tall, narrow container, and blend with an immersion blender (or use a regular blender). Let rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- prepare the gnocchi: Set a large pot of water to a gentle boil; add the gnocchi and cook according to package or your recipe’s directions. (Generally, gnocchi is cooked when it floats to the surface.)
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium, until the oil shimmers. Add the vegetarian bacon or pancetta, and the leeks. Saute until the bacon/pancetta is cooked, and the leeks are soft.
- Drain the gnocchi, and add to the leek mixture. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and saute the gnocchi until they begin to turn a light golden brown.
- Add half of the yogurt sauce to the pan, gently mixing (taking care not to rip the gnocchi). If necessary, add more until the dish reaches your preferred level of sauciness. (I like it creamy, but not soupy — there’s usually a bit of leftover sauce).
- Top with crush pistachios, and serve.