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Gnocchi with Asparagus in Lemon Cream Sauce

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Our delicious gnocchi with asparagus in lemon cream sauce is a one-pot meal and ready in 30 minutes. The lemon cream sauce coats pillowy gnocchi and crispy-tender asparagus then it is topped with a light dusting of beetroot powder.

On a trip to Durango last year, running from awning to awning on Main Street in a brief rainstorm, we stumbled upon Seasons Rotisserie and Grill. Their menu changes seasonally and that evening in early summer we were lucky enough to discover their Spring Gnocchi. The pillow-soft gnocchi and veggies were dusted with beetroot powder and it was so delicious we debated who deserved the last bite. This is our version inspired by their memorable dish.

finished dish on a plate

Let’s Talk Ingredients


There is a short list of ingredients for this recipe and it comes together in less than 30 minutes making it a great option for a weekday dinner.

The full ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.

ingredients
  • Gnocchi is a dumpling usually made from potatoes as well as eggs and flour. It cooks quickly and becomes pillowy soft if cooked correctly. It is typically found with the dried pasta in your grocery store, although you may find some in the frozen section as well.
  • You can usually find Asparagus all year round at most supermarkets but it is at its peak in April through May. The bottom part of an asparagus spear can be woody and should be cut off prior to cooking. Cut and discard the bottom inch or so just where the “white” section of the spear turns green.
  • Beetroot Powder is considered a superfood and might be found in health food stores, but is definitely available online. You could eliminate it from the dish, but because of the earthy notes and beautiful color, it really is one of the signature ingredients.
  • We recommend using cocktail Tomatoes cut into quarters. They have thicker skin so they hold on to their “meaty” texture when cooked.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano is the Champagne of cheeses and anything labeled as such requires certification of being from specific provinces in Italy using a specific recipe and method based on Italian law. If necessary, you can substitute cheese labeled ‘Parmesan’, an imitation version that lacks Parmigiano Reggiano’s nuttier, richer flavor. Parmesean will also taste saltier, so adjust your seasoning accordingly.
  • We recommend a low-sodium Vegetable Stock so you can control the amount of salt in the final dish.
  • We recommend only using Heavy Cream due to its high-fat content. The acid from the lemons can make milk curdle or become grainy due to the changes in pH. Heavy cream is more viscous due to its higher fat content and a smaller amount of water, so when lemon juice is added it guarantees a smooth, creamy consistency.
  • Lemon adds acid and brightness to the dish. You can add more or less lemon zest depending on your preference.

Let’s Get Cooking


Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.

Pro-tip: Gnocchi is pillowy soft so don’t overcook the asparagus. The asparagus should be tender but retain some crispness.

1. Sauté the Asparagus: In a large skillet over medium-high heat olive oil. Then add the shallots and sauté for about 1 minute, stirring often. Add the asparagus and let it continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Finally, add garlic for the last 30 to 60 seconds, making sure it doesn’t burn which would add a bitter flavor.

2. Add the Stock and Cream: Add the vegetable stock and lemon juice to the skillet with shallots, asparagus, and garlic. Bring it to a boil and then add the heavy cream, salt, and pepper.

process shot for step 1 and 2

3. Add the Gnocchi: Bring the liquids back to a simmer then add gnocchi and lemon zest. Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens and the gnocchi is almost tender.

4. Add the Cheese and Tomatoes: After gnocchi has had a chance to cook reduce the heat to medium-low then stir in grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Add the tomatoes once the cheese has been fully incorporated and melted.

process shot for step 3 and 4

5. Plating: Serve with an additional sprinkling of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a garnish of lemon zest, and a dusting of beetroot powder, if desired.

finished dish on a plate without beetroot powder

Recipe Tips and Notes


  • Cut off the woody end of the asparagus or peel off the skin from the bottom part of the asparagus spears with a vegetable peeler. Asparagus should be cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Do not pre-cook the gnocchi. The cooking time might have to be adjusted since fresh gnocchi will take less time to cook compared to frozen or dried gnocchi.
  • We don’t recommend substituting the cream for something like half-and-half or milk since the acid in lemon juice can curdle milk.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is gnocchi?

Gnocchi is a dumpling usually made from potatoes as well as eggs and flour. Like pasta, it is typically served with a variety of sauces and toppings such as cheese, tomato sauce, cream, or pesto.

Can you replace gnocchi with pasta?

Gnocchi can be replaced with other pasta but the pasta will need to be cooked to al dente before adding it to the pan with stock and veggies. The pillowy softness of the gnocchi contrasted with the crisp, fresh vegetables is the key textural note of the dish, however.

How do you store leftovers?

Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Note: since gnocchi is already very soft it may become mushy when reheated.

finished dish on a plate

Let’s Connect! If you make our Gnocchi with Asparagus in Lemon Cream Sauce or any other recipe on Casual Epicure, please don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are considering making our recipes and we love hearing about your cooking experiences. And if you snapped some shots, share them on Instagram, and be sure to tag @casual.epicure so we can feature them in our stories.

Other Recipes to Try


If you enjoy this recipe, we recommend checking out some of these other dinner recipes:

finished dish on a plate

Gnocchi with Asparagus in Lemon Cream Sauce

Our delicious gnocchi with asparagus in lemon cream sauce is a one-pot meal and ready in 30 minutes. The lemon cream sauce coats pillowy gnocchi and crispy-tender asparagus then it is topped with a light dusting of beetroot powder.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • 1 Large Saute Pan

Ingredients  

  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cups shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups asparagus, chopped in ½ inch pieces
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ lemon, juiced and zested
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound gnocchi, dried
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • beetroot powder, for dusting

Instructions 

  • Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the shallots and sauté for about 1 minute, stirring often, then add the asparagus for another 2 minutes of simmering. Finally, add garlic for the last 30 to 60 seconds, making sure it doesn't burn.
  • Add vegetable stock and lemon juice to the saute pan with the shallots, asparagus, and garlic. Bring to a boil and then add heavy cream, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring back to a simmer and add the gnocchi, salt, pepper, and lemon zest and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened and the gnocchi is tender.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Add tomatoes and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Serve with an additional sprinkling of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a dusting of beetroot powder.

Notes

1. Cut off the woody end of the asparagus or peel off the skin from the bottom part of the asparagus spears with a vegetable peeler. Asparagus should be cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Do not pre-cook the gnocchi. The cooking time might have to be adjusted since fresh gnocchi will take less time to cook compared to frozen or dried gnocchi.
3. The acid in lemon juice can curdle milk so we don’t recommend substituting the cream for something like half-and-half or milk.
4. Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Note: since gnocchi is already very soft it may become mushy when reheated.
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