Date Night Dinner | foodsciencenerd.com

Fancy Date Night Dinner

Posted on Posted in Culinary Science, Inspiration, Recipes

A few days ago, I posted about a fancy lunch that my boyfriend (Happy Birthday, Handsome!!) and I made to emulate one of our favorite Bostonian restaurants.  Well, our fancy meals didn’t stop there!  That night, we spent a few hours creating a recipe from the cookbook Collards & Carbonara that my boyfriend’s father had sent me for Christmas (thanks!).  It’s an awesome cookbook with some really unique recipes, but a lot of the ingredients are slightly out of our budget… However, we did manage to find one recipe that looked particularly promising: Gnocchi, Gorgonzola, Arugula, Lemon & Balsamic (page 92).  We set out to make the dish, including handmaking the gnocchi (page 96).

The gnocchi itself turned out surprisingly well, aside from some operator error (I didn’t let the potatoes get soft enough, and I don’t have a potato ricer. A fork sufficed.)  We certainly had a lot of fun rolling out the gnocchi and cutting it into the little gnocchi blobs.  I got to teach my boyfriend how to roll the gnocchi on a fork to get the lines, which was thoroughly entertaining.  Even though we had less potato than the recipe suggested, we still had more than enough gnocchi for two nights worth of pasta.  So, I froze half the gnocchi on a sheet pan to use later, which worked perfectly.  These gnocchi really were light and fluffy, despite the lumps of undercooked potato.  They probably would have won Iron Chef

I don’t like bleu cheese or gorgonzola, unfortunately.  Actually, to be clear, I like the flavor but something about the smell makes me nauseous, so I can’t eat it.  At least not comfortably.  We traded out goat cheese for the gorgonzola in the creamy sauce and it worked perfectly!

"Look at me! I'm stirring two pots at once!" This was just before we had to turn on the fan and evacuate the balsamic ridden kitchen.
“Look at me! I’m stirring two pots at once!”
This was just before we had to turn on the fan and evacuate the balsamic ridden kitchen.

The balsamic reduction was stupidly simple (Put balsamic in pot over medium heat. Stir til reduced.), but it came with an unexpected side effect.  Having two scientists in the kitchen, we probably should have figured out that vinegar is volatile and evaporates with heating, but we didn’t.  Anyway, it evaporates into a stinging balsamic-y cloud that makes it very hard to breathe in the kitchen (and the smell lingers in the apartment for days).  But the end result was worth it and I still have some reduction left for salads!

While my boyfriend stirred two things at once, I kept an eye on the gnocchi, which only takes a few minutes to cook, and dressed the arugula to put on top of the pasta.  This dish came together all at once for plating and eating!  It was surprisingly beautiful- like something from a fancy restaurant!

Date Night Dinner | foodsciencenerd.com
Gorgeous, right?

The gnocchi and sauce were very rich and very filling (“gut bombs” is an appropriate term for gnocchi), so the balsamic was a great way to cut through the creaminess.  I loved having the crunchy, spicy, fresh arugula with lemon dressing on top for an opposing texture and flavor.  I especially loved that my boyfriend ate a new vegetable!  We had plenty of everything left over for another night, though we had to wait about a week before we were ready to eat more gnocchi ;).  The frozen gnocchi cooked perfectly- just drop them directly in boiling water out of the freezer.  Without having to make the gnocchi, the dish really only took a few minutes to put together.  Quite perfect!