Something magical happens when the best of what life has to give is brought together. For me, those things can easily be grouped into carbs, starches, grains, butter, cheese, creamy goodness, seafood and something green. In this case, it was grilled prawns, sautéed basil garlic chicken, gnocchi and spinach inside of a creamy sauce made of a parmesan and asiago cheese blend. Quite a mouthful, both literally and figuratively.
I’ve been obsessed with the concept of “gnocchi” for quite some time. The way it’s made, it’s shape, which sauces would accentuate the flavor, which pairings would work best? The fact that it’s made using one of my most favorite vegetables (because, french fries) AND it’s actually been identified as being a “light, airy and unique pasta.” Who can resist any of those things? And how do you make it? How do you even pronounce it? (I’ve got you covered; it’s N’YAW-kee)
Granted there were hundreds of ways this could have been prepared, I couldn’t move past the idea of an Italian dumpling covered in creamy parmesan cheese sauce, pinched between chunks of grilled garlic — basil seasoned chicken breasts and buttery prawns. Go figure. Actually, forward thinking, I would love to see how gnocchi’s would taste paired with andouille sausage and a mix of cajun flavors in a light tomato sauce…
Admittedly, I lacked the patience to create homemade gnocchi’s from scratch. The idea of eating gnocchi’s in a creamy parmesan and asiago cheese sauce with shrimp, chicken and spinach at the time sounded far more enticing than adding an additional hour of prep time to dinner. I saw a pack of Archer Farms potato gnocchi’s at Target and a plan was set in motion. The benefit to this, is it’s quicker for those interested in making a delicious dinner quickly on the busiest of nights.
For this recipe, I chose to use shallots and chopped parsley for flavor. Shallots are richer in flavor and become sweeter and deepen in flavor as you cook them, offering a much milder flavor than onions. Parsley, when combined with garlic helps to create the base for the cream sauce, enhancing the natural flavors prior to adding any seasonings and pairs really well with seafood!
Season chicken breasts cut into 1 inch chunks with paprika, italian seasoning, garlic powder, basil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
In a large saucepan on medium temperature, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour and mix until a roux forms. Once a roux has formed, add a generous amount of your chopped parsley and garlic and continue to mix. Once the parsley and garlic have begun to cook down, reduce your heat and into your roux slowly begin to add in your heavy whipping cream, blending the roux into the cream. Once completely mixed, slowly melt in another 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir occasionally.
In a skillet with olive oil on medium temperature, sauté the chicken until golden brown. In the same skillet, sauté shrimp partially and remove from heat. It is important not to cook the shrimp completely, as you will be adding them to your sauce later and you will want to avoid overcooking them.
Once the butter has completely melted into your sauce and roux mixture, slowly begin to add in grated cheese until it melts completely. It is best to slowly integrate small portions of cheese to avoid clumping and keeping it from sticking to the bottom of the sauce pan.