Potato Gnocchi with Bacon and Peas

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When I run out of peppered Hungarian bacon, I panic a little. I like to keep a chunk, or rather little chunks, in my freezer at all times. This bacon can make a meal. As it did here. I wasn't sure what I wanted to make this evening, but I knew I had one small chunk of bacon left in my freezer. I also had peas. And it had been a while since we've had gnocchi.

My local Super King market sells peppered and regular Hungarian bacon chunks. I look for the one with the most pepper. When I bring it home, I cut it up into smaller chunks, good for serving 2-4 people, and freeze them individually for emergency and non-emergency dinners. It reassures me to open my freezer and see little plastic bags with bacon.

On another note, I'm not the biggest fan of dried gnocchi. But, I'm also not really interested in making my own anytime soon. You can usually find decent frozen ones at Italian markets, but sometimes I get lazy and buy a dry package from Trader Joe's in preparation for additional laziness that is likely to happen when it's almost 6 pm on a weeknight and I haven't started dinner yet. I guess the lesson here is, if you're going to be lazy, plan for it better with frozen gnocchi. This might make it on to my 2011 resolution list.

It feels like it's been a while since I've actually typed out a recipe here. And although this dish came together naturally from the freezer/pantry, I will do my best to summarize it in recipe form.
Potato Gnocchi with Bacon and Peas
Serves 4

1 package of dry or frozen potato gnocchi (a little over a pound)
1 cube of peppered Hungarian bacon (a little smaller than your fist), sliced into whatever size you like
1 large can of whole tomatoes (20 oz or so)
2 tbsp of tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, minced
handful of dried basil, I use purple and green
1/2 bag of frozen peas
1/2-1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
olive oil

1) Boil gnocchi according to package instructions, drain and set aside in a casserole dish.
2) Meanwhile, brown bacon in large pan. When bacon is almost done, add garlic and tomato paste, and cook an additional 3 minutes or so.
3) In a large bowl, smash you tomatoes to break them up. (I do not like large tomato chunks. The husband does. I try to compromise.) Add tomatoes and juices to the bacon. Season with salt and pepper (remember bacon is peppered, so don't over do it).
4) Add basil, and peas and simmer for about 10 minutes.
5) Add bacon and peas sauce over the gnocchi. Top with cheese.
6) Bake at 350 degrees covered for about 15 minutes, then turn heat up to 400 and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.

Enjoy this steamy, cheesy dish. It is rather comforting on a cold night.

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