It may sound odd, but keep reading. I promise it gets better.
Look… I too, was skeptical at first. I have no Italian blood in me and don’t know the first thing about Italian cooking, but for the majority of my life I’ve eaten gnocchi with tomato sauce or some sort of béchamel sauce. Clearly, vinegar is not on that list.
This recipe comes from my friend Barb, whose husband was a world-renowned chef. I’ve shared many of their recipes before (ice cream crepes, provolone stuffed fried zucchini), but I have to admit that this is my favorite. Perhaps because it was so unexpected? One evening during early December, Barb told me that I just had to make this gnocchi dish with a balsamic reduction. I actually put it off for a few weeks because I… just wasn’t sure.
Then one day last week mid-recipe development, my mind went blank. I took one for the team and chopped some vegetables.
But before we go any further, let me tell you something. I cheated.
I grabbed a box of whole wheat sweet potato gnocchi at the grocery store and this is what I used. It’s delicious. It’s easy. It’s foolproof. It leaves more time for you to make dessert. Do it.
Back to the dish.
I reduced the vinegar and let it cool. It got syrupy.
I literally burnt every single taste bud off my tongue when I attempted to lick the spoon.
Also, a word to the wise: don’t stick your face right over top of a reducing pot of vinegar. Or wine. Or when you are sauteing jalepenos. Why must I learn the hard way?
It’s the inner child in me. It’s why I always have to open the oven door mid-bake and why I always want to push the button that says “don’t push” in screaming red bubble letters.
I just love balsamic vinegar, so my anticipation for this dish was eating me alive. But I thought one thing would make it better.
Garlic basil butter.
I mixed some softened butter with fresh basil and minced garlic, and used it to saute the veggies and stir in at the end to finish the balsamic sauce. There really are no words.
I enjoy many of the savory dishes that I make, but I must admit – so many of them are developed because I’m trying to feed Mr. How Sweet a meal that won’t make him cry. It was refreshing to try a dish that scared me and was so out of my flavor comfort zone.
And it is now my favorite savory dish to date. Absolutely mouth watering. Layered with flavor. Mind blowing. And I can’t forget to mention the short ingredient list and ease.
Even Mr. How Sweet ended up eating this without any meat – that’s how fabulous it is. And you know it has to be delicious if he’s willing to forego his beloved chicken.
But it would be a lie of omission if I failed to mention on Tuesday he combined these leftovers with the grilled tomato basil chicken leftovers. That was pretty divine too.
Gnocchi with Balsamic Reduction
1 pound gnocchi (fresh or packaged)
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 pepper, chopped (any color will do – I used red)
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
3 tablespoons garlic basil butter
Heat a small saucepan over high heat and add balsamic vinegar. Allow vinegar to come to a boil them immediately reduce to a simmer. Simmer until vinegar reduces by half of the amount – about 8-10 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
Heat a skillet on medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon garlic butter. Add chopped peppers, onions and mushrooms and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. While veggies are cooking, boil water for gnocchi and cook according to directions – they only take a few minutes, so make sure the veggies are almost finished cooking.
Drain gnocchi and add to veggies in skillet. Add vinegar reduction and garlic butter and stir to combine. Top with parmesan if desired. Serve and devour!
Garlic Basil Butter
1/4 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon freshly chopped basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or however much you want)
Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine.
I will pay you to go make this dish.
In cookies. I’ll pay you in cookies. I just need someone else to relish in it’s delightfulness.