We had this dish at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen here in Memphis about 2 1/2 years ago, and it's been on our own at-home dinner menu ever since. The combination is perfect. The corn retains a crunch and adds a subtle sweetness to the sauce, and the fennel, when caramelized, becomes mild and creamy. This dish is proof that you can do a lot with a few ingredients and a bit of imagination.
Caramelized Fennel + Corn Gnocchi
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
2 cups fennel (cored, thinly sliced)
1/8 cup sliced shallot
1/4 cup white wine (like pinot Grigio)
1 cup corn (one large ear cut away from the cob)
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup grated parmesan (more for garnish)
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
fennel fronds (for garnish)
black truffle oil (optional, for garnish)
Make the gnocchi according to the recipe and set it aside while you make the sauce. Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once the sauce is finished, you will need that water to cook the gnocchi.
In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the fennel and shallot to the pan. Continue to cook until the fennel is soft and translucent and beginning to caramelize, about 15-20 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium-high and deglaze the pan with the wine. Allow the wine to reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat, add the corn, half and half, and the parmesan cheese. Stir to incorporate.
Cook gnocchi in boiling, salted water until they float. Remove gnocchi from the water using a slotted spoon and place it directly into the sauce. Toss to coat. Divide gnocchi between 4 plates and garnish with fennel fronds, black truffle oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. (Serves 4.)