Most Lents, God does a far better job than I do of picking penances for me. Take this year for example. I thought I’d do the usual no sweets, get to daily Mass more, and go light on Facebook before noon. He laughed and said, “How about bridesmaids’ dresses?”
Trying to find bridesmaids dresses for my postpartum, nursing, 30-something, moms of many bridesmaids, all of whom have completely different body types (and who happen to currently reside in Michigan, Illinois, and Washington State respectively) has been the bane of my existence these past four weeks. Throw in the comments of my (otherwise very supportive) mother, who is less than fond of my color selection, and this Lent almost has me recalling with wistful fondness my “vegan, Mormon, celiac on a diet” Lent.
Almost. Because if that were this Lent, I wouldn’t be eating today’s meatless Friday recipe.
And yes, before you suggest it, I’ve already done the whole “pick a color and let them choose their own” thing. So please, don’t even go there. The problem is not that I’m being particular or that we’re being unreasonably narrow with options. The problem is that bridesmaids’ dresses are made for willowy 20-year-olds who’ve never birthed a baby, let alone still find themselves nursing one.
Add this to the list of reasons to get married when you’re 23.
Regardless, while I’ve been fielding a dozen dress calls a day (and doing other little things, like writing a book), there hasn’t been a whole lot of time for cooking. Which is why I’m grateful to the good Lord above that, in addition to providing me with my own personal penance this Lent, he also helped me grow lots of tomatoes last summer.
Back in August, those tomatoes got preserved in various ways. But my most favorite way was a roasted tomato pesto. I roasted pan after pan of beautiful tomatoes, taking them from this…
I then tossed them into the food processor with a little parmesan, some almonds, and a whole lot of basil, divided the mixture into small mason jars, and stacked them in the freezer. Now, when I need dinner in under 20 minutes, I know where to go.
The good news for you is that you don’t have to wait until August to replicate this recipe. A quick trip to the grocery story, an hour in the kitchen, and you can have your own supply of pesto at hand whenever you need a super speedy supper, that’s also super filling, super delicious, and super heart healthy. Can we say “lycopene”?
My favorite way to eat this pesto is by the spoonful straight out of the food processor (once you start it’s hard to stop!). But, since that doesn’t exactly qualify as a meal, I more often end up tossing it into some pan-friend gnocchi. It’s also delicious, though, with plain pasta, tortellini, or even vegetables. If you’re making this fresh, make sure to reserve a few tomatoes to slice and toss in. Top with parmesan, and serve with a salad or some roasted veggies, and dinner is ready.
Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Roasted Tomato Pesto (Inspired by Oh She Glows)
Pesto: Active—10 minutes; Inactive; 40 minutes
Gnocchi: 20 minutes
- Gnocchi (2 boxes of DeLallo or preferred brand)
- 7-9 large Roma tomatoes (7 if making for later, 9 if making for now)
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 3 Tablespoons
- 3/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
- 1 cup shredded basil, loosely packed
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Scatter almonds on sheet and roast for 3-5 minutes or until almonds start to turn golden brown.
- While the almonds roast, trim the tops of tomatoes and slice lengthwise. Peel the garlic, set two cloves aside, and smash the remaining four with the flat edge of a large knife.
- Transfer the almonds to a bowl and arrange tomatoes and smashed garlic on the same pan. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt (3-4 pinches) and pepper.
- Roast at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
- When the tomatoes are done, reserve 2 if you made extra. Transfer the rest (7) to a food processor and combine with basil, almonds, 1/2 cup parmesan, remaining garlic cloves, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Puree until smooth. Taste and salt as necessary. Pulse again for 15 seconds.
- Store the pesto in a mason jar and refrigerate or freeze. Alternately, set aside and start cooking the gnocchi.
- For the gnocchi, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add one box of gnocchi.
- As soon as you add the gnocchi, melt 1 Tablespoon of butter and 1 Tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. As the gnocchi start to float to the top of the boiling water (usually after 3 minutes), use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the frying pan, making sure to drain off the water each time.
- Keep the pan of water boiling.
- Fry gnocchi for 5-8 minutes or until the gnocchi just start to turn golden. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.
- Repeat the process with the second box of gnocchi.
- Return all the gnocchi to the pan, toss with pesto, and mix. Divide into bowls, top with parmesan and thin slices of the remaining tomatos, then serve.
- It’s important not to overcrowd the gnocchi when frying or else they’ll never brown up. That’s why the instructions call for repeating the process. If you’re halving the recipe…which is usually what happens here…just make one box of gnocchi and save half the pesto for later. Again, tiny mason jars are your friend.
- The stored pesto keeps for about a week in the fridge, 6-8 months in the freezer.
- You can, of course, make your own gnocchi. That is awesome. But since this is one of my “I have no time to cook, but need to eat” meals, I usually go the boxed route.
- For the gluten-free folks, DeLallo makes a good gluten-free gnocchi, which we’ve used quite often. It’s just more spendy, so be prepared for that.