Friday, September 23, 2011

More pesto? Whole wheat gnocchi with zucchini, heirloom tomatoes and pesto

Believe it or not, this is a perfect week night recipe if you happen to have access to a Trader Joe's supermarket. You can find the vacuumed pack potato gnocchi like these elsewhere, but TJ's imports this one made with whole wheat flour that I find very good. Remember, I said it's a week day recipe. If you have the time or inclination to make gnocchi from scratch, knock yourself out. It actually isn't very hard, but this one is ready in minutes. The baby heirloom tomatoes are also a staple of Trader Joe's . As I did in the previous post, you must start with making pesto. And yes, I realize if you use a mortar and pestle, your pesto will be much better.
Forgive me Grandma, but if you had a food processor you might take the shortcut too. 
So, start with the pesto and while it's happening, bring a pot of water to the boil  and season it with salt. For both Neeta and I, I used two small to medium zucchini. Using a spoon, I scraped out the seeded middle sections of the vegetables and cut them into 1/2 inch slices (as you can see in the picture above if you look at the zucchini section at the bottom of the plate). Also, I cut 1/2 a small onion into dice and grated a little Grana Padano for finishing.

As always, begin by browning some minced garlic in 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil. As soon as you smell the garlic in the pan, add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

Now, add the zucchini to the pan, salt it and adjust the heat to medium. Cook the zucchini for about a minute so that it browns slightly.

Now, add the onion to the pan and adjust the heat to medium low. Keep an eye on the garlic. If it looks like it's getting too dark, add a bit of the pasta water to the pan.

As you wait for the zucchini and onion to soften, cut a handful of the heirloom tomatoes into quarters. 

Now add the tomatoes to the pan and dump the gnocchi into the boiling water.The gnocchi only takes 2 or 3 minutes to become tender. When they do, they will float to the surface of the water. While waiting, spoon about 3/4  cup of the boiling water into the vegetables. This will create a little sauce with the tomatoes.

As soon as the gnocchi begin to break the surface of the boiling water scoop them into the vegetable pan with a strainer or spider. Stir them briefly into the vegetables and turn off the heat. Now, spoon the pesto into the pan and plate the gnocchi and vegetables finishing with a sprinkle of cheese.


  1. Oh, how I wish we had a Trader Joe's here. Not one for probably 50 miles or better. Darn. Great recipe fpr beautiful fresh veggies. Glad to see you back. Hope you're all well and happy.

  2. Yes Carla, Trader Joe's is an asset. They have good prices and high quality. I don't usually buy produce there, but most of their products that are imported from Italy are excellent. Thanks for your good wishes. It's nice to be blogging again although I'm running short on inspiration.