And that was the inspiration for this dish, which blends one of the heartiest of winter pastas -- potato gnocchi -- with asparagus, a light vegetable that has come to represent one of surest signs of spring.
We wanted protein, too, but nothing as heavy as meat, nor as light as beans or tofu.
Shrimp, which pair so nicely with asparagus anyway, were the perfect choice.
To tie it all together, we started robust with some crumbled Gorgonzola. And to balance those big bold flavors, a light squeeze of lemon juice.
Spring gnocchi with asparagus and shrimp
2 16- to 18-ounce packages gnocchi (see note)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bunches asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound peeled, deveined raw shrimp
4 ounces watercress
1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Note: Gnocchi pasta can be found in three sections of the grocer, the freezer section (along with the frozen ravioli), the pasta aisle (where they are packaged in shelf-stable containers) and alongside the fresh pasta in the refrigerated case.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and cook according to package directions, then drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the lemon zest and cook until the butter begins to be fragrant and just begins to brown. Immediately add the salt, black pepper, asparagus and shrimp. Cook until the asparagus and shrimp are tender and cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the gnocchi to the pan and toss to coat and mix. Divide the gnocchi between 6 serving plates, then top each portion with watercress, Gorgonzola and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 510 calories; 120 calories from fat (24 percent of total calories); 13 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 150 mg cholesterol; 70 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 31 g protein; 1190 mg sodium.
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