Monday, June 24, 2013

Gnocchi with zucchini, goat cheese, and corn, chicken

Despite my bragging, I managed to avoid jinxing things/tempting Mother Nature.  We ended up with another weekend of picture perfect weather.  I've always fancied myself a (rare) winter-loving East Coast gal, but I think I'm starting to really enjoy this thing called summer.

Before you get worried and think I'm going to become some warm-weather craving Californian reptile, let me assure you that this new-found fondness for summer has a long way to go before it even enters the same state, let alone zip code :)

But, summer sure has its perks, doesn't it?  At least the kind of summer we're having so far.  Temperatures in the 80s, sunny with a few sporadic clouds, and the most perfect light breeze to keep you from feeling downright hot.

Good weather can be almost hypnotic.  It makes nearly every idea seem like the best idea ever!  Outdoor concerts in a field!  Kayaking in a muddy river!  Ice cream for dinner!  (Obviously)  Making our favorite zucchini goat cheese pizza at home!

Hold up.  A 500 degree oven in the summer?  That is bad news dot com, folks.  Even yours truly wouldn't dare invite that kind of heat into our place.  With a little outside of the crust thinking, I came up with a better idea.  A stove-top only recipe sounded much better.

I've been on a surprising and pretty major pasta kick so far this season.  Gone is the idea that dishes must be heavy and stick-to-your-ribs rich.  I'm learning that adding seasonal veggies to lighter varieties of pasta make for one heck of a meal.

Light-as-pillows gnocchi tossed with garden fresh zucchini, corn, onions, and lightly seasoned chicken, all dotted with tangy goat cheese.  So many colors and so many textures!

I cooked the zucchini juuuust enough to soften it but so that it still retained a bit of crunch, a perfect contrast with the fluffy little dumplings. And dreamy creamy chevre that softened and just began to melt over simpll seasoned chicken and the pasta.  I mean, seriously.  What dish isn't improved with the addition of goat cheese?  I could eat that stuff by the pound.  By the pound!  #chevreformayor

This is a great meal that can double as dinner one night and lunch the following day (or dinner that night, too!).  Less time in the kitchen means more time sitting on a porch with a glass of ice cold lemonade in hand.

I really must make lemonade soon... and acquire a porch and rocking chair, too.  I'm open to ideas.

One year ago: Pretzel bottom Snickers blondies
Two years ago: Brown butter banana strawberry bread
Three years ago: Pastina with peas and carrots

Gnocchi with Zucchini, Corn, Goat Cheese, and Chicken
(an original recipe)
-makes 4 servings

1 package gnocchi
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn
Ground black pepper
2 ounces goat cheese
Fresh basil, for garnish, optional

Salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil.  Add gnocchi to boiling water and cook according to instructions on package.  Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add chicken and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is opaque and completely cooked.

Add zucchini and corn to pan with chicken and onions, stirring to mix and cooking until zucchini and corn begin to soften, about 3 minutes.  Remove pan from heat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add gnocchi to pan and combine with vegetables and chicken.  Add a little pasta water, as needed, to loosen vegetables, and stir in crumbled goat cheese.  Garnish with fresh basil, if using, and enjoy immediately!

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