It’s the holiday season and we could all do with an easy weekday meal. Am I right? I know I can barely find the time to put all the ornaments on our tree so the faster dinner is the better. This lemon gnocchi with spinach and peas can be ready to eat in less than 30 minutes and it’s a nice change from the usual go to pasta option. Using dried gnocchi is the key to speed here and I can’t believe I haven’t tried it before now. I blame the boxes of pasta.
It seems that the packages of dried gnocchi just get lost in the sea of pasta shapes and sizes and can be easily overlooked. But now that I’ve discovered them, I plan to keep some on hand so I can easily whip up this lemon gnocchi anytime.
Using frozen peas and pre-washed spinach in this recipe cuts the prep work down to nothing. But the real bonus is when the spinach gets coated with the light cream sauce that’s brightened up with a little lemon. Then magic happens and even the most green vegetable resisting teenager (aka my daughter) eats her vegetables.
With dinner done and hungry teenagers fed, let’s see if I can finish putting up all my holiday decorations before Christmas.
- 2 cups frozen baby peas (not thawed)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 4–5 ounces baby spinach
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 pound dried gnocchi
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving
- Kosher salt, to taste
- In a large 12-inch skillet, stir in peas, cream, half and half, and a pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Cook, covered, until the peas are just tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the spinach and continue cooking, covered for the first 2 minutes and then uncovered. Toss the spinach in the hot cream mixture until wilted. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and juice.
- Meanwhile, cook gnocchi in a pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until just tender according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain gnocchi.
- Add gnocchi and parmesan cheese to the cream mixture and toss to coat. Thin sauce with reserved cooking water as needed. Season with salt to taste and top with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.
- I also like to add snow peas to this recipe. I like the extra texture they add but the rest of the family is lukewarm about it so I left them out of the recipe above. If you would like to add snow peas, simmer 2 cups of snow peas with the cream for about 3 minutes before adding the frozen peas. Proceed with the recipe as written.
- Recipe adapted from Gourmet, December 2007.