It’s been one of those weeks where I’m spinning what feels like 73 plates, and even this food blogger ain’t got no time to plan dinner. I’ve been improvising, and while I did create a weekly meal plan spreadsheet, as I’ve done every week for the last two years, I’m filling it in as I go. My strategy has been this: pick one or two main pantry/fridge staples to use up, and work around them. Here’s what the week in dinners looked like:
- Dinner party leftovers of vegan Spanish potatoes, grilled steak and veggies, and chimichurri sauce
- Delivery veggie pizza
- Grilled veggie and steak tostadas with creamy black beans and peach salsa
- Tomato salad with pasta and garbanzo beans added
- And…toasted gnocchi and copious amounts of blue cheese over arugula
Last night was not looking promising, and I thought we would end up with takeout. I texted Steve as he was leaving the office around six, prompting him that I didn’t really feel like cooking, without explicitly saying so, then he texted me around eight-thirty, letting me know he was still on the train. Stuck. Because some measly branch fell on the tracks. Perfect.
So, I figured if my hubby can, on top of an already crazy week for him, hold it together while stuck on a packed commuter train for three hours, surely I can make something for dinner. That something–an excuse for a salad loaded with tangy blue cheese and no-boil gnocchi–occurred to me during a little pre-dinner yoga. From the time I pulled that wedge of cheese out of the fridge to my first bite of salad, a mere 10 minutes elapsed. If you’re a regular NCK reader, you know I don’t easily slap the “quick dinner” label onto a recipe, what with its general overuse these days, but I knew that the quick prep and spectacular outcome of last night’s dinner necessitated that I post it on the blog, and fast.
As I discovered in an equally cheesy recipe, cooking gnocchi doesn’t mean lugging a pot of water to the stove, and that is the secret to the speed of this comfort food salad. Another convenient feature which I noticed after-the-fact? You can get all the ingredients in one stop without having to run around town looking for anything fancy. I recommend Trader Joe’s if there’s one near you–the price/quality combo cannot be beat. They have your arugula pre-washed, pine nuts at a reasonable price, a well-balanced, reliable gorgonzola that crumbles like a dream, and oil and vinegar that far exceed expectations for the price. Every time I restock my olive oil, I’m tempted to buy them out…but then I gather myself and subdue my hoarding instincts.
The summer does not promise to slow down, and it’s filled with exciting, challenging, and fun things: birthdays, breweries, babies, photography, Boston, Minnesota, baptisms, bridal showers, learn-to-cook parties, family visits, and beach days! That’s a lot of “B” things–strange. Oh, and one more–hopefully plenty of brunch. As such, I’m sure there will be plenty more weeks of barely existent dinner planning, and lots more 10-minute dinner recipes on the blog. Stay tuned!
A 10-minute main dish comfort food salad with no pot of boiling water needed. The recipe serves two, but quantities are highly flexible and can be adjusted for one or for a crowd, and also increased or decreased to taste. The salad would also be good with the addition of your protein of choice (such as cooked lentils, some quinoa, steak, or chicken).
- Olive oil (about 3 T)
- 1 T butter
- 2 dozen gnocchi dumplings
- Kosher or sea salt
- Gorgonzola cheese (as much as you like)
- 2 big handfuls of pre-washed arugula
- Pine nuts (about 2 T, toasted if you like)
- Balsamic vinegar (about 1 T)
- Ground black pepper
- Heat oil just above medium heat in a skillet (I used cast iron). When hot, add the butter and melt completely. Add the gnocchi to the pan, stir to coat in oil, then let fry about 3 minutes while you prep the other salad ingredients. Flip gnocchi over once golden brown on the first side and let cook a few more minutes. Remove from pan and sprinkle with salt.
- While gnocchi fry, crumble the gorgonzola. Toss arugula, most of the blue cheese, and the pine nuts with olive oil to coat. Then add a splash of balsamic and toss to combine. Distribute greens mix evenly amongst bowls and top equally with cooked gnocchi and remaining gorgonzola. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste.
- Category: Salad
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