Italian Chicken and Dumplings (aka Lemon Gnocchi with Chicken Pesto Soup)

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You know those dishes that you just can’t get enough of, even when it’s leftovers for three days in a row? Yep, this is one of those. (Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray.) This is such a yummy, heart-warming dish. It’s got great veggies (mushrooms, celery, onion, carrot) in a chicken stock-based kind-of-like-a-soup. But what really makes it is the pesto you stir in at the end. It’s delicious and bright, and grabs onto the pillowy gnocchi.

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TW’s Tips

  • I bought a Barilla parmesan gnocchi which was actually pretty good (the “parmesan” was actually in a plastic pouch which I accidentally dumped into boiling water, so caution! And throw out the parmesan, just use the gnocchi.) The refrigerated gnocchis tend to be better than the ones on the shelf.
  • Don’t overcook the gnocchi. Mine started falling apart a little.
  • Don’t skip toasting the pine nuts. It brings out a whole other flavor you won’t get if they’re not toasted.
  • Make sure you use a big enough skillet for the gnocchi when you saute it with the lemon zest so you can get a nice brown toast on the gnocchi, so it’s got a little bite to it.
  • This is great reheated, and I bet it would freeze well (just cook the gnocchi day of).

Lemon Gnocchi with Chicken Pesto Soup

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 2 pounds chicken tenderloins, diced into bite-size pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 12 large white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 4 ribs celery from the heart, very thinly sliced
  • 1-2 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • A generous handful of parsley leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • A handful of pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • A couple of handfuls of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 packages fresh gnocchi (10-12 ounces)

Directions

Place a large pot of water on to boil for the gnocchi.

Heat a pot with 1 tablespoon EVOO, one turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, then season with salt and pepper and lightly brown. Remove to a plate and add another tablespoon of EVOO and 2 tablespoons butter and heat. Add the mushrooms, carrots, celery and 1-2 fresh bay leaves, then season with salt and pepper. Soften for 5 minutes, sprinkle in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 1/2 cups stock, slide the chicken back into the pot and simmer to allow the sauce to thicken.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup stock in a food processor with the basil, parsley, garlic, pine nuts, cheese, salt and pepper. Turn the processor on and pour in the remaining few tablespoons EVOO.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat with the zest of 1 lemon.

Salt the cooking water and drop the gnocchi in the water. Cook until the gnocchi floats, drain and add to the lemon butter and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss the gnocchi for 2-3 minutes in the lemon butter until light golden at the edges.

Turn the heat off the chicken and stir in the pesto sauce. Serve the chicken in shallow bowls and top with lemon butter dumplings.

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