Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gnocchi with Ham and Peas in Creamy Pesto

We just got back from our trip to Croatia where we had the opportunity to try all types of regional Dalmatian cuisine. In different parts of Croatia, the cuisine and architecture have Italian influences, since the two countries are located just across the Adriatic Sea.

This meal was inspired by a dish my husband had in a little town near Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. Since it’s all store bought (sorry, I cheated for this one!), it was super fast to put together. I think the longest cooking time was for the frozen peas! Perfect for a midweek meal.

1 package of Knorr Creamy Pesto sauce mix (or use your favorite jarred white sauce)
1-17 oz package of potato gnocchi
5 oz frozen peas
7 oz cubed ham
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Prepare Creamy Pesto sauce mix according to directions on packaging. Whisk constantly and remove from heat; set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add peas for 3 minutes, then add gnocchi for an additional 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan over high heat, sauté cubed ham to brown.

When gnocchi start to float to the top of the water, drain water and return to peas and gnocchi to pot. Mix in pesto and ham.

Serve in a shallow bowl and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. I garnished with diced tomato, just because I had some on hand to use up.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Black Risotto with Shrimp and Scallops

On our trip to Croatia, we made various stops along the coast – Dubrovnik, Hvar, Split – and in each town almost every restaurant offered black risotto (crni rižoto). The risotto is blackened using cuttlefish ink and includes sautéed cuttlefish.

When we returned to the States, I visited an Italian market that only sold imported goods and found a package of the black risotto. I was so excited to try this dish at home. Instead of running all over town and trying to hunt down cuttlefish, I decided to just use shrimp and scallops, then serve with a side of baked halibut.

1 package of black risotto (try to find this at your local Italian market)
½ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ pound scallops
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Freshly cracked black pepper
Chopped green onions, for garnish

Prepare risotto according to directions on package. My instructions called for cooking the risotto in a pot of salted water with 1 Tbsp of butter for 18 minutes. Once risotto is tender, season with salt and mix in half of parmesan cheese. Set aside.

In a frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp of butter over high heat. Sauté shrimp and scallops until shrimp turn pink and scallops are cooked through and are no longer translucent in the middle. This should only take about 3 minutes. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Mix the seafood into the pot of risotto. Serve in a shallow bowl and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Garnish with green onions.