Skillet Gnocchi with Red Chard and White Beans , Comfort Food on the Fly!

Even a personal chef has nights when McDonald’s drive thru looks like a good option to feed a ravenous family. It’s not of course, but we’ve all been there.. I worked today, got home and then had a houseful of kids celebrating the end of the school year in our pool and the girls had softball tonight, it had been a long day, and the thought of what to make for dinner was nagging at me. It had to be fast and it had to be good! Luckily I knew what I would do because I have been waiting to make this delicious dish that was shared with me by a fellow personal chef, Martha Ulfelder.  The original recipe came from Eating Well magazine and it is a really tasty, healthy and FAST recipe made mostly with things that you can easily keep in your pantry. I made it for a client earlier this week, and knew I had to have it at home soon! This is comfort food on the fly, and tonight was the perfect night! It’s made in one skillet ( …I got to use my beautiful new Le Crueset braiser pan for this recipe, it is amazing! ) so there is minimal clean up and it comes together in no time!

We should all be eating dark leafy greens, and swiss chard is one of my favorites. It is more mild in flavor than greens like kale, and it is tender when cooked like spinach (you could sub spinach in this recipe as well). Chard is very low in calories, high in fiber and it is a great source of vitamin A, potassium and iron, it contains a good amount of vitamin C, and calcium. Swiss chard comes in green and red (and there is a new yellow variety that I’ve heard of but not seen yet!) and either will work in this recipe. I just happen to like the color of the red!

When cooking with any leafy green with thick stems, you will want to remove the stems which is really easy. Take one leaf at a time and fold it in half so that the heavy stem is on the outside, then using scissors or a kitchen knife, just trim the stem off.DSC00070 DSC00072
The stems are edible, but they take a few minutes to cook vs. the minute the leaves take so if you want to add them to the recipe (or any other), saute them in olive oil for 4-5 minutes to get them soft, and then add the leaves.
For our recipe, I just used the leaves.
Once the leaves are trimmed, give them a rinse in water to get rid of any grit or dirt and then roughly chop them. The water left on the leaves will help them to wilt in the pan so don’t worry about drying them off!

The recipe also calls for shelf stable gnocchi which you can find in packages where the dried pasta is in your local store. They are soft when you open the package, but need to be plumped up a bit in the skillet before adding the rest of the ingredients.
After plumping the gnocchi in the pan, it was time to wilt the chard.

Begin by sauteing onion and garlic, and then adding the chard leaves. This is what it looks like when you add the leavesDSC00073 and after one minute of cooking and turning the leaves from the bottom of the pan to the top, they wilt down to thisDSC00074
Then open a few cans and add the tomatoes and beans, simmer for a few minutes, add the gnocchi and give it a sprinkle of cheese!
The whole recipe including cleaning the chard took about 20 minutes, and it is really a one pot meal so I just served some toasted bread with olive oil to complete the meal.
It was delicious and got thumbs up all around the table when we got home from the game! Mickey D’s fries will have to wait for another day!



Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans
Serving Size : 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil — divided
1 16 oz. package shelf-stable gnocchi
1 medium yellow onion — thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic — minced
½ cup water
6 cups chopped chard leaves (about 1 small bunch) or spinach
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
1 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
¼ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 4 minutes or until soft, add garlic and cook for one more minute. Add chard (or spinach) and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes (add water by tablespoons if more moisture is needed). Stir in tomatoes, beans, season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes. (I put mine under the broiler for this last step to get the cheese brown and bubbly!)

See Martha’s blog

Cocoa rubbed ribs with spicy cherry conserve

Dinner tonight was an adventure!   Our 10-year old son loves a barbecue sauce from a local joint called Sticky Lips.   The sauce is called Cherry Bomb and he could eat it with a spoon, I swear!  So today I decided to make my own version of Cherry Bomb to go on the ribs we had for dinner.

First, though, I  needed a great rub for the ribs and my mind went to chocolate (chocolate and cherries~mmmmm!) so the rub today had cocoa, dark brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, all spice and ancho chili powder.  It had a great flavor and the sugar really caramelized nicely on the ribs.

I don’t have a smoker and we have a gas grill that would run out of propane before the ribs were done, so I wrap the rubbed ribs in foil and cook them low and slow  (275•)in the oven for 3 hours or so and finish them on the grill.  They weren’t quite as good as the ones we get at Sticky Lips that are smoked all day long, but they were pretty darn good!
The sauce was another challenge.  I had read many recipes for cherry barbecue sauce, some used cherry preserves, some had a tomato base, some used tart cherries, and some sweet. Choices! Choices!  Because Cherry Bomb sauce is on the sweet side, I chose frozen Bing cherries (fresh ones are just too darned expensive to use).  I used Vidalia onion, a good amount of garlic and grated ginger,  cider vinegar for some acid, Cayenne for some heat, and brown sugar, just because.  I sauteed the aromatics and added the cherries and simmered for 20 minutes or so until it was getting thick and syrupy.  I tasted and fiddled and tasted and fiddled, and in the end needed to add some tomato paste for depth, and lemon and orange zests to brighten the flavors, and bingo!  Cool a bit, and blitz it in the food processor and we were in business.  It really wasn’t a barbecue sauce but more of a sweet and savory jam, but whatever it was, it was delicious!
In our family if five, I got three thumbs up for this recipe, one of our daughters thought it was “OK” , and our 10-yr old son who inspired this adventure didn’t like it at all and went with a bottled sauce instead. (And there wasn’t any  Cherry Bomb either!)  Kids…
Cocoa rubbed babyback ribs with spicy cherry conserve
Mary Beth’s Spicy Cherry Conserve
1 Tb. neutral oil (like safflower, grapeseed or canola)
1 c. diced Vidalia onion (1 small)
1 Tb. minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
1 Tb. minced fresh ginger ( I used  jarred minced organic ginger)
2 Tb. tomato paste
3 Tb. cider vinegar
4 c. frozen Bing cherries, thawed, with juice (I used two bags of frozen fruit)
1/4 tsp. ancho chili powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tb. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. orange zest
Saute onion, garlic and ginger in the oil on med/high heat for 5 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.  Add tomato paste and cook another two minutes.  Add vinegar and deglaze the pan.  Then add cherries with their juices, chili and pepper, and a pinch of salt.  Simmer for 20 minutes over med/low heat until it begins to look thick and syrupy.  Add the zests and simmer for 5 minutes longer.
Remove from heat, allow to cool for 5 minutes then put in the food processor or the blender and pulse 3-4 times to break up the cherries.
This would be delicious on pork tenderloin, grilled steaks, and duck as well.
It makes a large batch so I’ll be looking for ways to eat it up!