Meatless Monday: Spring vegetable baked gnocchi

Whelp, it's been a while since my last post and if I'm being honest, it's because I've been obsessively online shopping for shoes to wear to my college reunion. But it's not as shallow as it sounds! I'm focusing my energies on something I can control because there's a lot right now that I can't. It's easier to compare heel heights and debate the pros and cons of suede in DC humidity than to worry about, say, authoritarianism or long-term career plans or huge and imminent life changes. It's enough to give me an ulcer. Which is also something I worry about.

This casserole has been helpful on busy days and is, as always, a helpful vehicle for vegetables. The leftovers are also great when crisped in the oven. I tend to shy away from baked pasta since it requires an extra step that the original ingredients don't necessarily need to taste great. But smothering things in cheese is always better than NOT smothering things with cheese and since the gnocchi cook so quickly, the overall prep and cooking time isn't overwhelming. Also, the gnocchi have a lot of starch thanks to the potatoes, which thickens the ricotta so that a bechamel or flour-based sauce isn't necessary.

Baked gnocchi

1 package potato gnocchi, cooked al dente
1 large shallot, minced
1 bunch asparagus, woody stems chopped off
1 box baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 box shitake mushrooms, chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup full fat ricotta
½ cup parmesan
½- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat broiler. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, melt butter in a sauté pan and cook the shallots until opaque. Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to release some water. Add the garlic and asparagus and cook until the water evaporates. If the mushrooms don’t release any water, feel free to add a tbsp or two with the asparagus and cook until it evaporates.

When water is boiling, add the gnocchi and as soon as they start floating to the top, scoop the gnocchi out with a slotted spoon or strainer and put into a large bowl. If only a few gnocchi float at a time, scoop them out in small groups. If the gnocchi aren’t floating or some seem to be cooking at the bottom of the pot for longer than 3-4 minutes, test for doneness and scoop out as long as they no longer taste doughy.

Mix the gnocchi with ricotta, parmesan, sautéed veggies, salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking dish and top with shredded mozzarella. Bake under the broiler until cheese is brown and bubbly, about 10-12 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings