Back when my husband and I first became acquainted outside of art school (some people call it dating), we both participated in an ambassador program that had us painting, drawing, art appreciating, and eating throughout Italy. The culture, beauty, and history of Florence, Venice, Bologna, Siena, and Rome combined with thinking critically about art and intention…well, changed my life forever.
Of all the amazing memories that I recall of my time in Italy, one of my favorites is the first meal that we had in Florence in a tiny eatery across from our hotel. Within what felt like minutes of being seated to large rustic wooden tables covered with bubbly frizzante water, red wine, fresh baked bread, and olive oil, we were greeted with a beautiful pesto gnocchi. It was served up in gigantic flat dishes that seemed even larger than the tabletops they were placed upon. The pesto was bright green and deeply fragrant, and the gnocchi itself was tender bites of perfection. I sadly cannot remember the name of that trattoria where we feasted almost every single night, but I do remember that they served the best friggin’ gnocchi I have ever had.
So today, to bring back some savory memories, I whipped up a batch of my own gnocchi- with just a touch of pesto. And, it’s a pretty good gluten free and vegan substitute for the meal I had years ago. I mean, except that the authenticity and scenery of Florence is pretty much non-existent (unless of course you live in Florence- in which case- you probably don’t need a recipe like this at all because you are constantly surrounded by delicious balls of pasta, right? Oh, and make me your house-guest for a year or two… k?). But it works well in a pinch.
I dressed mine simply with olive oil, green beans, and nutritional yeast, and laced a thick basil pesto into the gnocchi itself… rather than serve the pesto as sauce.
This cold noodle salad combines a lot of great flavors and textures to make the perfect summertime meal. It also includes my newly discovered friend, the purslane.
These beautiful and nutritious succulent plants are often weeded from folks’ gardens. Last week, as I was weeding my own garden, I came across this little plant that resembled a jade plant. I decided to let it go, as it simply was too beautiful to pull up from the ground. That exact same day, I was researching edible wild plants (one of my fave things to do), and wouldn’t you know it… the plant I left alone turned out to be something that should be in my garden!
Purslanes were apparently one of Ghandi’s favorite foods, and they are quickly becoming one of mine.
I had never heard of them prior to my recent discovery, but the purslane is actually a nutritional powerhouse! Now that I recognize the greatness of this little plant, I have been encouraging it to spread far and wide in my garden. It seems to prefer the company of my kales to any other veggie. Seriously, so would I …
I have never seen a purslane at the grocery store, unlike it’s edible weed friend, the dandelion. Like I said, I had no clue what it was before I almost weeded the poor thing. But, then again, I’m hardly a foodie. Feel free to substitute fresh green peas, spinach or arugula for the purslane. Those veggies aren’t quite as awesome as the humble purslane, but they’ll do.