Real Food for Real Life

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grocery bargain love...

Gnocchi with Roasted Sweet Peppers, Kalamata Olives, Fresh Mozzarella, and Dijon Turkey

I've said it before, I love grocery bargains.  Last week at Kroger I found a big bag of some unidentified red peppers for 69 cents.  I love peppers of all kinds, hot and sweet, so I was game.  At Aldi last week I found 8oz. packages of fresh mozzarella for an unbelievable 25 cents each (I have had their brand before, and while not of the highest quality, it is very good for most everyday cooking).  I snapped up 8 of these ($2!!) and added them to my freezer stores at home (freezing cheese is fine if you plan to cook with it, but not for eating out of hand).

Looking for dinner inspiration yesterday, I had about 1lb. of last week's Dijon Turkey Tenderloin and that bag of peppers.  I cut off a pepper end for a taste and found them to be sweet, so thoughts of any sort of spicy salsa went out the window; instead my mind turned to roasted red peppers.  A dig through my food stores uncovered a package of gnocchi, kalamata olives, capers, and the fresh mozzarella.  Some of the very best home cooking comes, not from recipes, but from inspiration brought on by the ingredients on hand, and that held true in this instance.  These simple ingredients came together to form one of the very best dishes I have eaten, and again, the leftovers are MINE (I can be quite stingy with the really good stuff :).

I'm not sure the variety, but they were sweet like a red bell pepper, but with a much thinner wall.  They were quite large, and a quick weigh on the kitchen scale had these seven peppers at 1 3/4lbs.
For easy handling on the grill, I cut off the ends and split the peppers lengthwise before removing the seeds and membranes (very few).
A few minutes on each side over high heat and the peppers were tender, with some tasty charred bits.  I just set these aside until cool enough to handle.  I then cut them into thirds lengthwise, and then into thin ribbons.  I used about 1/2 for dinner and stored the rest away in the fridge for later use.  Because I don't mind it, I did not take off the thin outer peel, but if I wanted to do so I would have placed these in a covered bowl to "steam," and then rubbed and pulled off the peel.
This is how I like to store big bunches of fresh herbs (this is cilantro and Italian parsley).  Rinse them off, cut off excess stem, and place in cups filled with cool water.  I stash these at the back of the fridge and find that I can keep the herbs fresh a week or more.  Very easy to just pull out a handful or a few sprigs.  If I just have a small amount of fresh herbs I will wrap them lightly in a damp paper towel and place the bundle in a plastic bag loosely closed.  Again, they are stashed in the fridge, but I find that herbs stored like this need to be used sooner.
Gnocchi with Roasted Sweet Peppers, Kalamata Olives, and Fresh Mozzarella

1 16oz. package vacuum sealed fresh gnocchi
about 3/4 lb. sweet red peppers, roasted (see procedure above)
heaping 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
1 heaping tbs. drained capers
1/2 cup (about) extra virgin olive oil
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes, room temperature
1 large handful fresh parsley (don't substitute dried), chopped
coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 large cloves garlic (or to taste), minced
1/2 to 1 lb. cooked protein of choice (optional)

In a large bowl toss together the peppers, olives, and capers; drizzle in the olive oil, adjusting the amount to your taste.  Toss in the mozzarella and parsley, season liberally with the salt and pepper, set aside.  Cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water, it will only take 2 or 3 minutes- they will float when done.  Drain (don't rinse) and immediately return the pot to the heat.  Drizzle in a small amount of olive oil and add the garlic and protein (I used the leftover turkey cut into ribbon like bits), saute for a few minutes to warm the protein and rid the garlic of it's "raw" taste.  Toss the warm gnocchi and meat with the pepper mix and serve.


  1. This looks delicious! I bet it would also be good with feta instead of mozzarella.

  2. I agree, it would be delicious. In my fridge though you are much more likely to find cotija, a Mexican cheese similar to feta in taste, but drier and not quite as salty.


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