30 Days of Food Inspiration – Day Five

Day Five: Gnocchi with spring peas and tarragon.

When I was in college, I worked in a restaurant kitchen prepping food. Sometimes I stood there chopping and slicing and mixing and baking for 12 hours a day. It was exhausting, but I learned *a lot.*
First, for those who believe working in a restaurant kitchen is glamorous, it’s not. It’s a lot of really hard work. Hug your chefs (and sous chefs and dishwashers and anyone who works in a kitchen).
Second, I learned the beauty of the make-ahead meal. When you make something from scratch and freeze (or otherwise preserve) it, you have a fast homemade meal when you need it.

I am no longer in college. It hurts my back and my feet to stand at the kitchen counter for hours prepping food. But the last time we made gnocchi for dinner, I bought extra potatoes and made extra portions. Gnocchi is really easy to make — russet potatoes, egg, flour and salt. That’s it. And, thanks to a technique we learned from chef Jonathan Waxman, we now know that gnocchi is best when it’s been frozen. Here’s the technique:

* Make your homemade gnocchi using whatever recipe you love.
* Freeze them on a cookie sheet (make sure they’re not overlapping each other). When frozen, portion and store in a glass container or plastic zip bag.
* When ready to eat, melt a little butter or put some olive oil in a saute pan. When hot, throw the frozen gnocchi in. Make sure they’re not overlapping. Get them brown and crisp on one (or both) sides, depending on your preference.
* Salt, sauce, herb (whatever) and eat.

Crispy on the outside, pillowy soft and tender on the inside. And that’s exactly what we did for a last-minute Meatless Monday meal.  Gnocchi with peas and tarragon. Just a little butter, salt and Parmesan cheese. Perfect comfort.

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