I wanted to replicate one of my favorite side dishes from Olive Garden: the Chicken Gnocchi Veronese. For those of you who’ve never seen it, it looks like this: Looks good, right?

Here’s mine: IMG_2814.JPGI mean, it’s sort of close, right? I don’t know why it’s brown, but I think it’s from the fact that I overcooked the vegetables a little bit.

The thing is, I didn’t plan ahead on the timing (a very common mistake I make, you’ve probably learned). We had dinner at 7:30, but I got a little nervous when I saw I had to marinade the chicken for two hours and just added an extra two hours in to my prep, so I started at 2:00, just to be safe. So it ended up looking all dry and lumpy. It was okay though. I think I instinctively knew that more milk would fix the issue. That, or when I added the milk to begin with, I was guessing because I was using it as a substitution for heavy cream.

It still definitely would have been fresher if I had waited till approximately an hour before dinner was officially served. We waited till my sister and father came home, and they arrived within minutes of each other. The meal was delicious, but there was still at least an hour where the food that was freshly prepared just stood there. In hindsight, since the directions say to marinade the chicken for “at least two hours”, I think I should’ve extended the wait period to one hour before dinner.

The final product was bearable though. It tasted the same as the soup you would find in the restaurant, just don’t ask me to work there quite yet. As you can see, my culinary prowess is not ready for their standards, no matter how illegitimately Italian they are. When I tasted it though, it felt…lumpy…but I think that was from the ricotta cheese. Although that’s from the original recipe, so I don’t understand that.

Although, as I mentioned before, I substituted the heavy cream with milk and butter, which is what I read on a cooking site. I was too lazy to measure how much I might need in order to get the full effect of the heavy cream, hence my guess that I would need more milk in order to make the soup more…soupy. The website specifically said that the butter would not mix well with the milk. Maybe the butter was the issue.

Since we still had those colorful mini peppers, I used four of those to make up one red bell pepper. I didn’t cut them the long way to at least make it seem like I used bell peppers, but I doubt it really mattered.

I had no idea what rosemary branches were before today, but they had them at Safeway. I thought I would have to chop them up or just mix them in the soup. They were only used in the marinading process. That’s it.

Speaking of marinading the chicken, because I also typically add the chicken to the salad, I opted to use it for the soup instead. I mean, I already bought the rosemary branches and I didn’t want to not take advantage of them or else it defeats the purpose of purchasing them. So for the sake of making use of them, I chose the soup.

I also substituted half a red onion for the Vidalia onion and I think I only used two chicken breasts instead of four. Two just seemed like plenty. I did slice them in half the long way so there: four breasts. Or was that correct? Did that just backfire on me?

Olive Garden (which I was surprised they posted all their recipes, because don’t they just want customers to go to their place of business when they’re craving something?) added directions on how to make gnocchi too. All that is in the link that I just posted on this entry, as a side note.

When I added the marinated chicken slices, I was wondering what I should’ve done with the lemon juice. I ended up not using it, only placing the chicken pieces inside the pot.

As for the gnocchi, once they were ready (it’s always fun how they just float to the top once they’re done–like “Peekaboo! I’m ready for you!”), I was worried about placing them inside the boiling water because of the splash. I’d had that experience before while making the tomato bisque and pasta. What I ended up doing was very brilliant that I wish I’d thought of it before: use a draining spoon. That way, I could add a handful onto the spoon and then gently place it into the water. Then, once it’s done, use the same spoon to pick up the pieces and drain at the exact same time and then just place them into the pot with the soup!

Oh, and also: IMG_2819.JPGFour servings, my ass. These are leftovers after four mouths were fed. I don’t mean to be cynical here, but is this why America has an obesity problem? Our portions are too big? Please tell me it’s just my almost one-year-old cooking brain misreading something here.

Maybe I just thought that one serving was always so little (because when I actually cared about my calories, I found that was my biggest problem), and ended up giving everyone less than one serving. After all, this is supposed to be a meal. Wait, no, this is a side. Although I suppose it could still be the entire meal. The actual meal here was the usual salad, which admittedly there was less of, because of the soup, but I still used just one head of lettuce for the four of us.

Here is everything I had for dinner tonight: IMG_2818.JPGTo quote my sister as soon as she saw this spread, “Ooh…fancy.”

Oh, damn it, I forgot the egg again! Tomorrow. Somebody remind me tomorrow…

P.S. The funny thing about the gnocchi is that it’s the only reason why I wanted to make that soup in the first place–because I wanted to make the gnocchi–and yet I still bought it from the grocery store!


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