Maple Crest residents who find gnocchi (no-kee) on their dinner plates may not be aware that the small, ridged shapes are made from potatoes. Diners may not know that gnocchi was originally a Middle Eastern dish that made its way to Italy. Finally, those who try the added pesto sauce for the first time, should know that pesto, made from pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and basil, is Italy’s most famous export. Thanks to Trish Black’s cooking demo on August 27, many are now aware of these little-known facts and just might be willing to add gnocchi to their list of favorite meals.
Black, Maple Crest’s director of food service, knows that it’s difficult to add new and different dishes to the standard menus. We’re all creatures of habit and are reluctant to try food that’s unfamiliar to us. Demonstrating how a dish is made and handing out samples and recipes gives residents an opportunity to learn how the dish originated and what ingredients are used. Black’s first demo featured gnocchi with chicken and broccoli in a basil, pesto cream sauce.
“This is a great dish to make at home, because you can make almost everything from scratch, or buy ready-made ingredients for a simple meal,” said Black. At the August 27 demonstration, she chose to use pesto from a jar, but made her own alfredo sauce and cooked and seasoned chicken breasts.
“You can make your own gnocchi,” Black added, “but it’s time consuming. Much easier to buy it at the grocery and just boil it for this dish.”
The 20+ residents attending the demonstration for the most part favored adding the gnocchi recipe to the rotating menus at Maple Crest. In the future, Black may open the cooking demos to the community. It’s a great way to add a recipe to your collection and enjoy sampling what may be a new dish.
Gnocchi with Chicken and Broccoli in a Basil Pesto Cream Sauce
Ingredients (serves 2)
3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
2 c. Alfredo sauce
2 T. basil pesto
1 c. broccoli florets, steamed
1 pkg. potato gnocchi
Start by seasoning the chicken breasts with an Italian seasoning and then cook in a pan with a little olive oil. After cooking, set aside to cool a bit. Steam broccoli or saute it in a pan with a little water, until tender. Set aside and start making your Alfredo sauce (or you can by a jar of Alfredo sauce and heat it up in a large saucepan). Once you have the Alfredo sauce, you can add in the pesto, chicken and broccoli. Keep this on low heat and fill another pot with water and bring to a boil. Add in the gnocchi. You can tell the gnocchi is done when they start to float to the top. Immediately drain the gnocchi and mix in with your sauce, chicken and broccoli. Top with a little grated parmesan and enjoy!