For the first two years of writing this blog, I didn't have a proper kitchen. I churned out all my meals using nothing more than a small toaster oven (just big enough to roast a chook, if you spatchcocked it first), a single hot plate, a Breville benchtop grill, a crockpot, and a kitchen bench the size of a postage stamp (does anyone remember those?). Of necessity then, I became the self-proclaimed queen of the "one pan wonder", and a quick and simple one pan meal is still my benchmark of the ideal mid-week dinner.
At I Heart Cooking Clubs this week, we're all about "weeknight favourites", cooking up Nigel Slater dishes that are perfect for those nights when you have neither the time nor the inclination to come up with anything other than something simple and fuss-free.
Leafing through "Tender, Vol I, A cook and his vegetable patch", a simple dish of gnocchi with spinach, cheese and cream looked promising. It didn't hurt either that the recipe was titled "A filling, carb-rich supper for a winter's evening". Seriously, how inviting does that sound, and let's face it, who of us doesn't like to load up on a few carbs on a chilly autumn evening?! And, although I rarely go in for creamy pasta sauces, once in a while a serving of those aforementioned carbs smothered in cream and cheese is a delightful thing.
As is my usual bent, I did make a few minor changes to the recipe. Firstly, I added some chorizo because, well ... if you're going to have all that pasta and cream and cheese, you might as well throw all calorie-counting caution to the wind and throw a bit of sausage into the mix. I also simplified the cooking process a bit. Nigel firstly has you pre-boil vacuum-packed gnocchi in one pan of water, and steam the spinach in another pan, then assemble all the ingredients and cook them in another dish. I say "fiddle-dee-dee" to all of that - I was pretty confident I could do all of this in one pan, and I think I pulled it off. Fear not, between a bit of time hanging out in a saute pan and then half an hour baking in the oven, with plenty of liquid, the gnocchi will cook perfectly well without needing to be boiled first. I didn't have as much cream on hand as was called for in the recipe, but I did have some creme fraiche, so I changed things up a bit there. Lastly, I used quite a bit less blue cheese than called for and found the amount that I used to be more than enough. Nigel says, that this makes two servings. Personally, I found that this was pretty rich and satisfying and with a bit of salad on the side this made three decent sized portions - and, honestly, I have a pretty voracious appetite, so if I say you can feed three out of this you can believe it. I really do recommend a simple but fresh salad to go with this, as it will help to cut through the richness of all that cheese and cream.
This is definitely not the kind of dish I would eat on a regular basis, but, like an itch that needs to be scratched, every once in a while nothing less than something so decadent and deeply satisfying will do.
Gnocchi with Chorizo, Gorgonzola & Spinach recipe
Adapted from recipe by Nigel Slater
from Tender, Vol I
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
2 tablespoons olive oil
1x chorizo sausage - about 110g (4oz), thinly sliced
500g (1 lb) vacuum packed gnocchi (I use De Cecco)
200g (7 oz) creme fraiche
1/2 cup cream
150g (5 oz) baby spinach leaves
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
100g (3-1/2 oz) Gorgonzola (or blue cheese of your choice), crumbled
freshly grated Parmesan, plenty of
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F).
Heat olive oil in a large ovenproof saute pan over medium heat. Add chorizo to the pan and saute until golden and beginning to crisp. Add gnocchi to the pan, and saute until the gnocchi are coated in the oils released from the chorizo (there's loads of spices and flavour in that oil), and beginning to brown a little. Add cream and creme fraiche to the pan, and stir until the creme fraiche is melted and bubbling. Remove from heat, season with flaky sea salt (not too much as the blue cheese will be salty) and freshly black pepper, add spinach and stir until the spinach is evenly distributed and wilted. Add Gorgonzola to the pan, and poke it into the crevices around the gnocchi. Grate Parmesan cheese liberally over the top.
Place pan in the preheated oven and bake until bubbling and golden - about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
If you would like to get to know Nigel Slater a little better, and to see what everyone else has cooked up this week, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links ...
... or check out Tender, Vol. 1 and Nigel's many other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, or Fishpond NZ.
I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the delightful Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads, at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollum, and at Cook Your Books hosted by the lovely Joyce at Kitchen Flavours.