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January 05, 2011

A Second Helping of Salad

Gnocchi and Wilted Spinach Salad.


Ok, ok, OK, ok, okay, OKAY! So this isn't the lightest salad to start off the New Year. I admit it! BUT it IS the salad that will have everyone asking for seconds and thirds. A double helping of greens, people, doesn't that count for something?

My kids will eat just about anything--a fact that would make any kitchen-crazed mamma brim with pride! It took a bit of work through the toddler years, but we have arrived at "palette maturity" at the weathered ages of 5 1/2 and 8. Raw oysters? Yes. Sushi? Yes. Spicy foods? Absolutely. Ripe stinky cheeses? You bet. Veggies of all shapes and sizes...

These two will try whatever I put in front of them, and usually enjoy it. But ask for seconds on salad? Never. That is, until greens started mingling with gnocchi.  Oh how the tides have turned!


If you've been reading ASP for a while, you may remember that my husband has a habit of inviting people over for dinner on short notice. What's even better, sometimes it's only short notice for ME! He may have phoned our friends a week earlier, but simply forgot to tell me until 5 pm the day of!  (I know what you're thinking, but he's still a keeper.) To make amends, he offers to run to the store or help in the kitchen--whatever it takes.

One of these particular evenings, I was scrounging the pantry to come up with a suitable meal for first-time guests, when I found a package of pre-made gnocchi. Inspiration hit! We made this hearty salad to serve as a first-course, in order to buy more cooking time for the rest of the meal!

After that no other salad has quite stacked up. Ask my kids, they'll tell you...

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.  ~Doug Larson




Gnocchi and Wilted Spinach Salad

1 lb. packaged gnocchi
5-6 oz. baby spinach leaves
4 strips thick cut bacon, chopped
2 shallots, thinly sliced
¾ cup walnut pieces
juice of 1 lemon
¼+ tsp. nutmeg
2 Tb. Honey
½ cup dried cherries (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and sizzle until red and crispy.


Add the shallots to the bacon and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then add the walnuts and nutmeg.


 Meanwhile drop the gnocchi into the boiling water. Cook until all the gnocchi are floating~3-4 minutes. Once the gnocchi is ready, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to the skillet. 


Add the cherries and stir. Finally add the lemon juice, honey and 2-3 Tb. of pasta water. Salt and pepper to taste.


Place the spinach in a large bowl. Pour the hot gnocchi mixture over the spinach and toss. Serve immediately!

Makes 4 dinner portions, or 8 first-course portions.


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58 comments:

  1. I'd grab seconds and thirds with this! Maybe I'll just pop over one day. =)

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  2. I'd go for seconds of this. Plus it would be easy to keep most of the ingredients on hang "just in case".

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  3. Oh my word gnocchi in a salad!!! This looks soooo good. I would seriously have a hard time not eating the whole salad. YUM!

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  4. wow this is my kind of meal and I would freak if my hubby did this to me he he

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  5. I made a salad yesterday with steak, mixed greens and um, french fries but was probably the fattiest and most delicious salad ever. This is lovely and you totally piqued my interest because of the gnocchi, it's been in my head lately.

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  6. It is so wonderful to hear that your kids are such good eaters! Yay for foodie parents! And I'm very impressed with your last minute party skills. I would get so flustered. This salad looks just delicious. Thank you so much for sharing it with me!

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  7. This looks delicious. I'll have to remember this next time I make gnocchi!

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  8. This is the first time I see gnocchi incorporated into a salad and I love it! beautiful photos too!

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  9. Oh my goodness, my girlfriends are going to love this. We have a brunch planned next Monday and I'm for sure making this. I'll let you know if mine comes out half as good as yours:)So awesome that your kids are willing to try whatever you put before them. It's a beautiful thing.

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  10. This looks amazing! I love gnocchi and this is such a creative way to eat it!

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  11. Your salad looks and sounds really delicious!

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  12. Chicken and Gnocchi soup is one of my favs at the Olive Garden.Your Salad looks so fresh.And with that generous serving of gnocchi I wont mind having it on a snowy day even!Happy New Year!

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  13. Looks like an amazing dish.The combo of gnocchi and salad has never occurred to me. What a great dish.

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  14. Ohhh this salad looks divine!!!

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  15. Pan frying the gnocchi is a brilliant idea, it must give them a little extra boost in color and flavor before they go into the salad.

    By the way, I'm quite impressed at your calm under fire with last minute dinner guests!

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  16. Now THIS is a main-dish salad!! So creative!! Of course, I'm partial to anything with bacon in it :) I am also very impressed that your kids eat anything you put in front of them!! Well done, mom of the year!! :)

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  17. Lucky you get ready made Gnocchis!! The salad really looks refreshing and healthy. Like the wilted spinach in it. A healthy start for 2011.

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  18. This sounds so good to me right now, Sommer! I am not spontaneous and I admire your ability to pull it all together quickly. ( :

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  19. This salad might not be the lightest dish, but it certainly looks amazing! I love that it is made with things commonly found in my pantry!

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  20. Sounds like a great recipe! I really love the combination of cherry, walnuts, and honey.

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  21. I think it's ok to add gnocchi to salad! It is totally still salad. I've never added gnocchi to salad before but I add pasta to my salads on a regular basis. Sometimes you need that little bit of extra carb to help fill you up :) This salad looks amazing, lovely pictures. Happy new year!

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  22. Gnocchi and Spinach mmmmmmmmm! I would eat this all on my own! There wouldn't be seconds, let alone thirds, for anyone else.

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  23. I love hot salads! Yum. And by the way, I totally hope to have kids like yours. If I end up giving birth to picky eaters, I think I would tear my hair out. I love experimenting in the kitchen, and if all my kids wanted was chicken tenders I just might cry. =)

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  24. This sounds great! Rich flavors of the season. I find I have trouble with regular light salads I'lll eat in the warm weather. Have to deepen the flabors to want it. This sounds just the ticket!

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  25. What a clever idea. I love gnocchi...way to bring it up a healthy notch. I never thought about doing this but why not. Thanks for sharing, yum!

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  26. we enjoy gnocchi lovely presentation

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  27. That is a wonderful salad and so clever of you to mix the gnocchi with the greens. Devious mamas rule :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

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  28. Accidentally bought way too much spinach this week so this will come in handy. Cheers!

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  29. I love the idea of pan fried gnocchi with the salad and cherries are a great addition here too, very delicious!

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  30. You are a brilliant wife in the kitchen, aren't you? And, hubby will never be encouraged to give you notice when your creative juices develop ideas like this in a pinch! Whoo-hoo! Good for you! Dried cherries, walnuts, bacon... and the spinach to pay penance for the rest... how could you go wrong. YUMMMERS!
    :)
    Valerie

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  31. This salad looks so beautiful, Sommer! I don't care if it's not particularly light. It's still extremely healthful and I want a bowl:) Ooh, and I just love dry cherries. There so nice...

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  32. Since it is filled under the salad category I am considering it a healthy choice and I will definitely make it.

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  33. Whatever it takes to get kids to eat the salad greens...that's what I say! This certainly is one delicious way to do it!

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  34. Looks delicious! I adore bacon in salads... a favorite at our house. Good thinking on your feet! - xoxo megs

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  35. Fabulous salad idea!!! Can I hire you to train my kids to eat salad?????

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  36. Would this salad be good with soy bacon??? ;)

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  37. Sounds like a winner Sommer. Sometimes when I have guests at the spur of the moment I actually avoid worries and fuss I might typically otherwise have. You came up with a perfect offering to your new guests.

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  38. OMG! Sommer.... my hubby would do backflips for this salad, gnocchi and bacon....that must be so good. And your kids eating raw oysters....bravo!
    You are a lucky mom.

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  39. I would love to hear this salad for every dinner :) i bet everybody asked you for more and more!

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  40. I would finish all and require 2nd, 3rd....Thank you for sharing such a wonderful salad recipe.
    Angie

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  41. I don't care if this salad is light or not as long as it's delicious! So scrummy looking and sounding. A good way of making salad-haters eat salad...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  42. gotta love hubbies, a perfect salad, I am also glad my girls wll eat everything(love it)..just two nights ago we tried a prepackaged gnocchi and really enjoyd it, this would be perfect for our next gnocchi adventure, thanks for sharing

    sweetlife

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  43. Looks good to me! It's like the classic southern wilted spinach salad with an Italian twist - love it! And the added flavor burst of cherries, too :)

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  44. That salad looks delicious! Gnocchi is so yummy anyway, but to throw in a little bit of healthy stuff too is just awesome. Yum!

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  45. I LOVE your salad, and the difference between France and USA, is that probably your excellent salad would be "main dish" here... then, some fruit..;and that's it!
    I urge Americans to do that....In most cases it is not the food, bad in itself, but the quantity!!!
    Please, keep on giving us food like that, and don't feel guilty !!

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  46. This is very clever. Bacon, spinach, gnocchi - I'm all over that. No wonder your kids like everything. Compliments to the cook.

    I surprise Michelle like this sometimes. Even when I honestly forgot, I take credit for intentionally throwing her a curve ball. She's a planner. I'm a wandering mess. Classic Co-dependency.

    We really enjoy your blog.

    Cheers! Scott & Michelle

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  47. It's great when kids have healthy appetites and will eat just about anything. One of my nephews liked things such as anchovies on his pizza at a young age. I thought it was disgusting but was impressed at his openminded tastes all the same. ;) This salad looks delicious! I had gnocchi last night! Nothing post-worthy, though.

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  48. I have very little to say other than "You Are Amazing."

    Seriously.

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  49. This is so so smart. I love gnocchi and the photos of it comingling with salad greens and dressing make me wish I had this for dinner. I've got to try it out. Thank you!

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  50. I would go for 3rd and 4th.... It looks so good!

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  51. Gosh, I am super impressed by your kids and what they will eat. Even I am iffy about oysters. Good for you. Hopefully, we will follow in your footsteps. :). Salad looks awesome!

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  52. Now that is quite a salad...with the bacon here I could maybe get my kids to go spinach salad crazy like I am :)

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  53. Wow. Putting this salad together on such short notice was pure inspiration. Of COURSE everything's better with bacon, but that still leaves a lot of wiggle room. This looks amazing.

    Kudos to your children for their open culinary minds. It will serve them so well as they grow. Keeping my fingers crossed that the door to Dudette's mind will open a bit more in that way.

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  54. This looks amazing. I can imagine your kids enjoying it too!

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  55. love gnocchi and this salad is tempting!

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  56. That is a fantastic recipe! I love everything about it. It's great that your children eat so many things; I've been blessed in that way too (though they don't eat sushi or anything too spicy ... yet!). My kids (4 & 6) just started really enjoying salads as well. I mean they'd always eat the typical tomato/cucumber Greek salad but they'd avoid any lettuces, cabbages, etc., etc. until now. And I am certain they would love this as well.

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