Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. The first 50 readers to sign up for Blue Apron through this post will receive $50 off their first two weeks of meals, so you might want to stick around! As always, all words and opinions are honest and my own.
France and Italy were inspirational in a myriad of ways, including their approach to food. The meals weren’t low calorie, low fat, low carb, or gluten-free. They were just simple, well prepared, tasty meals. Bread and pasta were even in regular attendance at almost every table. Gasp!
That experience has encouraged me to get in the kitchen more to bring that style of eating into my own home, especially when it comes to dinners. I can make flavorful meals that include real butter and cheeses, starches, and creamy sauces. They just need to be thoughtfully prepared with quality ingredients, in sensible portions, and paired with lots of food fuel, like fresh, seasonal vegetables.
In preparation for this shift from simple standbys, I have bought a couple of French and Tuscan cookbooks and I’ve already started thumbing through them, earmarking recipes I want to try.
Even with my enthusiasm for spending more time on meals, sometimes I need something quick. There are violin lessons, Lego robotics club, and chess club (wow, we sound like a bunch of nerds). Then we have all of our church commitments – small group, men’s ministry, women’s ministry, youth group, etc. Jeff has a meeting or I have a meeting or one of the boys has a pile of homework. Or it’s just been a busy day that has scattered the four of us in different directions.
We had a day just like this last week. Jeff was working and then playing chauffeur for Marshall’s commitments. I was cleaning the house, doing laundry, and helping Calvin on his 5th-grade bug project. Dinner time snuck up on me and I just needed something quick, but I also wanted something delicious.
Fortunately, I had a couple of Blue Apron meals in the fridge, waiting for busy nights like this. Since I was flying solo (Calvin opted for a bowl of cereal), I selected the vegetarian dish – Summer Vegetable Gnocchi.
The recipe appealed to me in its simplicity. It was just a few ingredients – gnocchi, fresh tomatoes and zucchini, some butter and cheese, spices, and that’s it.
All of the ingredients were in their prime, so they smelled and looked delectable.
With fresh Italian gnocchi and a French-style cheese, Fromage Blanc, it offered flavors reminiscent of my trip.
And, best yet, it only took me 15 minutes from filling the first pot with water to boil to sitting at the table to eat.
While the pot of water for the gnocchi was coming up to a boil, I cut up the zucchini and tomatoes and put them in a pan to brown and soften with some olive oil.
One of the keys to good browning is to put something in a pan and leave it alone. If you stir and fiddle with the food too much, it won’t get the rich flavor that is developed along with that yummy caramel color.
After a quick three minutes in the pot, I removed the gnocchi, reserving the salted, starchy water to use in the sauce.
The gnocchi went into the pan along with the vegetables, spices, cheese, and butter. A few small spoonfuls of the gnocchi cooking water added to the pan brought the sauce together.
Doesn’t that looks scrumptious?!
I’ve been adding lightly dressed greens to at least two meals a day, so I mixed some up to serve as a side with the gnocchi.
I used a drizzle of the olive oil carried all of the way from Italy in my suitcase…
…mixed with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and a dash of salt to make the dressing.
I mix it all up with a fork and then turn the greens in it with my hands.
It’s a simple way to add more greens to your meals (and use up those bags of spring mix that might otherwise go bad in the fridge.)
And the meal was delicious. I’m not a big fan of tomato-heavy dishes, so this one was just perfect. The softened tomatoes added a fresh, delicate tang to the gnocchi, but they weren’t overpowering. The cheese and butter lent their creaminess without being heavy.
It was the perfect quick, satisfying dinner and this recipe card is definitely a keeper. This recipe can be made with endless seasonal variations and I’m excited to try some of them.
And, since this Blue Apron meal had two servings, the leftovers went into a container.
Sebastian volunteered to be the second person in this dinner for two, but I selfishly wanted it for lunch this week.
If you want to step up your dinner game on busy nights you can click HERE to sign up. As I said at the top, the first 50 readers to sign up for Blue Apron will receive $50 off their first two weeks of meals!
In case this post is your first introduction to Blue Apron, here are a few more reasons you might want to give it a try…
- All meals can be prepared in under 40 minutes, but many of them are 20-30 minutes, making Blue Apron a great option for busy nights. Blue Apron delivers all the farm-fresh ingredients you need, right to your doorstep, in exactly the right proportions. No trips to the grocery store and no waste from unused ingredients.
- Blue Apron has been a great way for me to try new recipes, flavor combinations, and cooking techniques. They add new recipes all the time, so there are always new cuisines to taste and skills to add to my cooking arsenal. I even keep the recipe cards of dishes we like the best, so I can make them again!
- All of the perfectly portioned, farm-fresh ingredients are delivered in a refrigerated box so ingredients will stay fresh even if the box sits on your doorstep (or counter) for a while.
If you have a quick and tasty crowd-pleaser, use #EasyWeeknightMeals on social media, so we can find it! Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments here as well.