Easy and deluxe recipe: Prawn, Pak Choi and gnocchi supremePosted by Fiona Nevile in Fish and Seafood, Rice and Pasta | 3 comments
When I first noticed Pak Choi (bok choy or Peking cabbage) twinkling on the supermarket sheves, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was or how it would taste. Even though it seemed rather expensive it was attractive so I invested in a pack and rushed home. Simmered gently for a couple of minutes it was a revelation. Wilted upper leaves with crunchy fleshy ends. Clean tasting and yummy. We ate it as a vegetable on the side and later in stir fries. Surely in the right place this vegetable could really shine? This thought was put on the back burner.
Later I discovered that Pak choi is really easy to grow – especially towards the end of summer when it’s less likely to bolt. I’ve sown some in the seedbed in the allotment – the doll sized plants will soon be ready to be planted on.
We like pak choi but have never really experimented with it as a key ingredient until last week. I couldn’t find spinach in the shops. My aim was to cook this delicious recipe – prawn, gnocchi and spinach. Hmm.
Then I spotted some really fresh pak choi – the result of substituting Pak Choi for spinach was glorious, far, far better than the spinach version. By simmering the pack choi for just 2 minutes – it retained its crunch and was the perfect foil for the chunky gnocchi. The parmesan and breadcrumb topping was good too – giving a very satisfying different sort of crinkle and crunch.
Sometimes scarcity results in a whole new recipe treat.
Gnocchi is a great store cupboard ingredient. It’s the easiest of all pasta to cook. When it rises to the surface it’s cooked. No humming and haaing about the correct degree of al dente. Easy peasy pasta.
Easy and deluxe recipe: Prawn, Pak Choi and gnocchi supreme
6 as a starter or 2-3 greedy people as a main course.
500g of gnocchi (I bought mine ready made)
200g of cooked prawns (frozen are fine but defrost before use)
200ml crème fraiche
2 heads of Pak Choi
5 tbsp of finely grated parmesan cheese
2-3 handfuls of homemade dried bread crumbs
Freshly ground white pepper to taste. I use lots - much more delicate and zingy than black.
Bring lightly salted (a large pinch) water to boil in a large saucepan. When it’s bubbling furiously throw the gnocchi into the saucepan. After 2 or 3 minutes they will rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon to a warm entrée dish.
Wash and chop the Pak Choi roughly. Leaving the upper part of the leaf whole and cutting the fat lower stems into 2cm slices. Toss into boiling salted water for just 2 minutes. Drain immediately and leave the saucepan (lid on) in a warm place.
Meanwhile heat the crème fraiche gently. When it starts to bubble, add 1 tbsp of the grated parmesan and stir until the crème fraiche starts to simmer and thicken slightly. Remove to a warm place and, when the gnocchi and Pak Choi are cooked, bring gently back to simmering point and add the prawns to heat through – stir for a minute or so and move to a warm place (lid on).
Set your grill to medium/high and put your dish together as fast as you can.
Add the Pak Choi to the cooked gnocchi in the entree dish. Pour over the prawns in crème fraiche. Add a good dash of ground white pepper. Scatter two tbsp of grated parmesan over the surface, sprinkle 2-3 handfuls of dried homemade bread crumbs over the surface and end with a final layer of grated parmesan. Place the dish under the preheated grill until the top turns golden brown.
Serve on warm plates with some warm crusty bread and prepare for tumultuous applause.
N.B. We buy prawns when they are on offer and freeze them for a treat meal every now and then.
Dry breadcrumbs are very easy to make at home. Just dry the sliced bread at the bottom of the oven when you cook something else. Then grind when cold and store in an airtight jar. It keeps for months!
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