Gnocchi with Shiitake Mushrooms, Asparagus & Gorgonzola Recipe

If at first you don´t succeed, try again. Being my own self-critic, I gave this delight a couple of tries before nailing it.  The first time I wasn't able to find a market that sold field mushrooms so I used baby mushrooms instead and to be honest, the result was quite bland.

The gentleman who runs the bar/restaurant up the road here has worked in the restaurant trade for many a long year. When I drop by for my morning barraquito we always somehow end up swapping recipe ideas, telling stories about cooking and dining experiences and the like.

He suggested that I should try shiitake mushrooms as an alternative to the field mushroom type.  I had gone through a phase of Asian cooking some time back and had the joy of trying these before.  Shiitake mushrooms are sold fresh which are quite crunchy in texture or dried which have a concentrated flavour and can be quite firm.

Dried shiitake mushrooms need to be rehydrated by soaking them in hot water before for 15-20 minutes. The longer one soaks the mushrooms, however, the more flavoursome they become. So for the best results, soak them overnight.  If you´re tight for time or just can´t be too fussed then a short soak will do the trick.

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Serves: 4

500g ready-made gnocchi
300g asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
300 g shiitake mushrooms 
1 small shallot, finely chopped 
200 g frozen peas, thawed
salt and ground black pepper
100g gorgonzola cheese
fresh chives
finely grated lemon zest 

1. Cover the shiitake mushrooms in boiling water. Soak for 20 minutes.  The mushrooms should almost double in size.  Squeeze out the excess liquid and discard the stems.  Slice the mushrooms and place to one side.

2. Now the asparagus: snap off the hard ends. Cook the asparagus in salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Cool in a bowl of iced water. Chop into small bite size pieces keeping the heads intact.

3. Meanwhile cook the gnocchi in rapidly boiling salted water, You will know the gnocchi is ready when it floats to the top.

4. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and sauté the shallot until soft.

5. Add the shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, peas, salt and pepper. Add the gorgonzola and stir gently until melted through.

6. Sprinkle with chopped chives and grated lemon zest.