Asparagus Gnocchi with Scallops {spring fever}

0414 Asparagus Gnocchi and Scallops-pinterest.jpg

Yippeee! yahooo! It’s SPRING!

Why am I so excited, you may ask? Well, you probably don’t ask–who doesn’t like spring?

I am so excited because…WE GET TO LEAVE THE HOUSE. Cold, wet, grey weather does NOT mix well with young, active children. I can categorically declare that I can build just about anything with Legos and that I know every word in Frozen. It’s time to move on to outside activities.

  • Outside activity #1: Farmers Markets. They’re back! Local produce, local artisans, and scooters–our preferred mode of best-way-to-wear-the-kids-out transportation.
  • Outside activity #2: Gardening. I love having the kids help me plant plants, watch them grow, pick the flowers/veggies. We just have a small city patio and garden space but it’s still plenty to give them some exposure to what it’s like to grow your own produce and plants.
  • Outside activity #3: Playground Happy Hour. Oh come on, you’ve never taken the kids to the playground after school, met up with other parent friends, and brought a little special bevvie?

In addition to outside enjoyment, springtime fare is just the best. Some of the most delicious, and most elusive or short-lived, ingredients come to pass during spring so you’ve got to take advantage of them. Ramps, fiddlehead ferns, morels, and of course asparagus!

A friend gave me asparagus fresh-picked from his garden with a bottle of Gruner Vetliner–a perfect pairing with asparagus. So I wanted to create an easy, delicious dish that highlighted the asparagus but didn’t overpower the wine. And I wanted to use some fresh herbs from my garden. And I had a farmers market leek in the fridge.

0414 Asparagus Gnocchi and Scallops-3

Herby Asparagus and Leek Gnocchi with Scallops was born. A little strategically, a little kitchen sinky, a lot deliciously.

It looks and sounds all fancy so is great for a special weekend meal, but honestly I made it on a Wednesday in 20 minutes with mostly ingredients I had on hand. So it can double as a mid-week pick-me-up. And the kids love the gnocchi, so it’s an easy sell.

I actually created this dish specifically to pair with a Lagler Gruner Vetliner that was given to me. It’s crisp enough to compliment the asparagus, but has enough body to hold up to the gnocchi and scallops.

Cheers!

Asparagus Gnocchi with Scallops

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Asparagus Gnocchi with Scallops

Ingredients

  • 1 pound packaged gnocchi?
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • ?1 Tablespoon olive oil?
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, washed thoroughly and thinly sliced?
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus?
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mixed herbs (I used a mix of chives, parsley, tarragon, oregano, basil)?
  • 1 pound fresh sea scallops?
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Boil the gnocchi according to package directions. While you’re bringing the water to a boil, prepare the sauce. 
  2. Trim the asparagus where the tough, woody stem naturally breaks off. Then cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook just until tender but not brown--5 minutes or so.
  4. Add the asparagus and cook just until crisp-tender, only about a minute or two. Toss in herbs and drained gnocchi. Cover and set aside. 
  5. In a clean large skillet (I just wipe clean the skillet I just used for gnocchi), melt 1 Tablespoon butter and 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium high to high heat (you want to get it really hot, but not smoking or the butter will burn). Pat the scallops very dry and season with salt and pepper. When the butter begins to sizzle, place the scallops into the pan with at least an inch of space between them.
  6. After 2 minutes, flip. Outside of the single flip DO NOT TOUCH the scallops. After another 2 minutes, remove.
  7. Place the gnocchi on a plate and garnish with scallops. Serve with a seasonal green salad.
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***this was updated from an original post in May, 2013, with new photography. Like it?

Weekend Roundup: CLUES on how to brighten up winter meals

clueClue is one of my a favorite movies, thanks to an obsession by my bestie that caused us to watch it repeatedly in college. As I was writing this post I couldn’t help but think of that movie…do you get the references?

When I think about wintertime cooking, I usually think of hearty, meaty stews, squash, potatoes…things that I love because they warm me up from the inside out. What I don’t usually think about is fresh, bright, juicy flavors, vibrant colors, exotic smells perfuming the house…things I love because they lift me up when winter or life is getting me a little down.  [Read more...]

Food Lover’s Cleanse: Before and After pics, Best Recipes and Life Lessons

before and afterNot sure if this cleanse actually makes a difference in how you feel? I’ve been pretty positive about the experience along the way, but is it just all in my head? Well, see for yourself. On the right is Day 1 of the cleanse, on the left is Day 14. Um, yeah, I think I’m a slightly improved version of myself. And before you ask: they were taken in the same spot, with the same lighting at the same time of day and I’m not wearing makeup in either. No touchups, that’s just me.

A little more pep, 10 less pounds, a little more confidence to take on this year. This is definitely going to be something I take with me throughout the year and remind myself of how much better I feel when I’m making good choices. Right after I finish this cheeseburger. [Read more...]

Food Lover’s Cleanse Diary Day 14: Victory!

cleanse collageWow, the cleanse is done! I alternate between feeling like it flew by and dreaming about what I’m going to have tomorrow. Fondue? Pizza? Cheeseburger? so many choices. The reality is though that I’m taking a lot of great habits with me and I think I’m off to a great start.

How I feel: GOOD. I just feel good. I’m not transformed, I’m not a whole new person, I just feel good. Which makes me realize just how bad I felt after all of the stress and anxiety and bad food and bad decisions that comes with the end of the year. This has been a great way to get back on track so I can keep making good decisions about my health going forward. And it’s been a great reminder that my family really likes to eat good, healthy food. There wasn’t a single night that I had to convince my kids to eat what I was serving. They loved it, and they were open to it.

Time in kitchen: 30 minutes

Most interesting thing eaten: Dinner was a great riff on baja fish tacos without any of the fried, carby, sour creamy bad stuff. Love it.

Total Weight Watchers Points: 24.

Menu in review:

Breakfast:  Planned: Pomegranate-Apple Salad with Greek Yogurt. [Read more...]

Food Lover’s Cleanse Diary Day 13: The penultimate day!

sunsetWow, tomorrow is the last day of the cleanse. And I took this pretty picture of the sky after a storm on my way to pick up the kids from school so thought I’d share. It felt right somehow.

How I feel: I am REALLY tired of cooking every meal but I feel great about the fact that I have managed to do most of it this far. I am an avid menu planner but we definitely don’t cook every meal. In fact, we are serial eater-outers, especially during the week when we’re all exhausted and the kids are entertained by being out and I just want someone to serve me. But, this exercise has reminded me that a) you can make amazing, interesting, exotic food at home, b) even shopping at Whole Foods can save you money if you’re not eating out nearly as much (and you’re not buying cheese) and c) I will absolutely, positively, undeniably feel and look better as a result. So, while I know I won’t be cooking like this for every meal in the future, I’ll be doing a lot more like it and looking for more new recipes to inspire me!

Time in kitchen: 30 minutes

Most interesting thing eaten: It’s no longer new but I’m really digging the black rice.

Total Weight Watchers Points: 29.

Menu in review:

Breakfast: Planned: Farroto with Fried Egg. 7 Weight Watchers points. Actual: Since I put an egg on dinner last night today I made the Banana Almond Smoothie. 4 Weight Watchers points. [Read more...]

Food Lover’s Cleanse Diary Day 12: Making it my own

collageHow I feel: I have been loving the food on the cleanse and how good I feel, but I’m definitely getting tired of having every meal prescribed. I need some room to be creative! So today, I was, a little.

Time in kitchen: 20 minutes

Most interesting thing eaten: Farro. It’s kind of like barley but I guess since it’s Italian it’s just a little more delicious.

Total Weight Watchers Points: 22.

Menu in review: [Read more...]

Food Lover’s Cleanse Diary Day 11: Golden Globe guilty pleasure

How I feel: Way to wholesome and healthy for watching my guilty pleasure: the Golden Globes. After a long day of working out, swimming with the kids, writing, cooking and prepping for the busy week ahead, this is just what the doctor ordered!

Time in kitchen: 1 hour

Most interesting thing eaten: Actually, the turnips in dinner. I usually overlook them at the market but no more! Sweet and tender, I can’t wait to try them in stews, roasted and pureed this winter.

Total Weight Watchers Points: 25.

Menu in review:

Breakfast: Quinoatmeal with Apples and Toasted Walnuts. 9 Weight Watchers points. [Read more...]

Food Lover’s Cleanse Diary Day 10: Reason #437 why not to make kids different meals…

pork collage…because you’ll eat it too.

How I feel: Like I needed eat about twice as much food as was planned for today. So I did.

By the way, I am freaking out about how amazing my skin is today. 10 days ago it was all dry and flaky and today soft and smooth as can be. Is it the food? Is it the water? Is it working out? Who knows but I need to keep it all up!

Time in kitchen: 45 min

Most interesting thing eaten: My kid’s pizza bagel.

Total Weight Watchers Points: 19 planned. Not enough, ate kids food too. 27 points–still way under my daily limit (before wine of course).

Menu in review:

After 9 straight days of nothing but amazing food, today was a bit of a letdown. But there were a few highlights, read on for more!  [Read more...]

Food Lover’s Cleanse Diary Day 9: The fury of curry

family musselsWho knew that that jar of yellow spice buried back in your spice cabinet could jump out one day and knock your socks off out of the blue? I vow never to take that old curry powder for granted again.

How I feel: Awesome. I ate all of the main meals planned and never felt a craving for a snack even. I am adjusting great to this healthy food and portion size!

Time in kitchen: 1 hour

Most interesting thing eaten: Mussels in curry. The flavors were unbelievable–and most unbelievable was how easy it was. There was nothing I hadn’t used before but the combination blew us away. Hoover had thirds.

Total Weight Watchers Points: 28, plus wine.

Menu in review:

Breakfast: Orange-Date Muesli with Coconut and Cacao Nibs. 4 Weight Watchers points.

meusli

I forgot to put together the night before so just cooked the oatmeal in water and then mixed with other ingredients. It was still amazing. The flavors here are again so exotic but so familiar. I love this feeling of discovering something new–especially when it’s healthy!

Lunch: Bulgur, Tofu, and Kale Salad. 8 Weight Watchers points.

tofu kale salad

Since I didn’t have leftovers from last night I sort of winged it. I sautéed some tofu with the spices from last night’s recipe (smoked paprika and cumin) and served over kale dressed with the sesame miso dressing. And I topped with the Pepita Cashew crunch. It was great and actually filling. Maybe these salads are starting to grow on me!

Dinner: Curried Mussels Mustard-Roasted Potatoes Simply Sautéed Spinach. 16 Weight Watchers points.

müssels

Oh. My. Gawd. This recipe just floored us. We live in Baltimore MD so have mussels all of the time–especially at our favorite pubs. But we’ve never had mussels like this. It’s so few ingredients and just uses curry power from the spice cabinet but it’s just amazing. The kids and adults had multiple servings, and despite making the full recipe for 4 there was absolutely nothing left. The hubby and Hoover both declared that it was the best meal of their life. And I had to agree. If you don’t remember anything else from this cleanse remember this: Try. This. Recipe.

family mussels

Food Lover’s Cleanse Diary Day 8: pump it up and out

body pumpHow I feel: Amazing! I have so much energy, especially after going to body pump this morning

Time in kitchen: Absolutely none!

Most interesting thing eaten: well, I had red wine for dinner, does that count?

Total Weight Watchers Points: 28. no, no, not really.

Menu in review:

Welllllll, apparently after my halfway there post I needed a little respite from any form of cooking and many forms of healthy living. [Read more...]