Skillet Gnocchi with Spinach and White Beans
January 17, 2012
Music: Patty Griffin: Downtown Church
Kitchen, I don’t even know you anymore.
When the holidays come around, family chaos ensues. It seems we’re constantly at a family function or planning the next.
I get invited to my parents’ house for a lot of meals during this time. On days I don’t get invited, I invite myself, because I lack social boundaries and discipline. I didn’t even go to the grocery store for over a month. I FAILED my kitchen. And adulthood in general.
(Before I go on, let me fill you in on what my dog has eaten since my last post: a yankee candle, a full bag of bones, hot cocoa packets, all of my Clif bars, toothpaste, the face off of a stuffed animal that my mom got me, which was also malamute. Thank goodness I got her spayed!)
My refrigerator has been deserted for weeks, with empty bags of produce I ate months ago moving across the shelves like tumbleweed. Orange juice expired in November that I never opened. Milk I bought to eat with cereal that expired when I failed buy cereal. And brie (for no apparent reason).
Tonight, I returned to my kitchen, new kitchen knife in hand and new camera strewn across my back for documentation. Ready. To. Rumble.
I’m a sucker for a potato noodle, so it was no surprise to me that I jumped on the first gnocchi recipe. I found it on one of my “Cheap Healthy Dinner” Google searches and headed to the grocery store. I tend to nullify the “Healthy” part of this search by choosing the recipe that involves the most cheese. C’est la vie.
When I got home with my ingredients, it was a bit awkward. My kitchen stared at me like an angry wife of a lazy husband.
Kitchen: Where have you been? Its half past nine already.
Me: I went to the grocery store, Kitchen, so I could get food to put in you.
Kitchen: Well it is about time.
Me: What’s that supposed to mean?
Kitchen: Well, the dishwasher hasn’t been put up for days, the dishes are stacking up in the sink, the table has a mysterious orange sticky spot. It is your responsibility to do these things.
Me: Well, I’m SORRY, Kitchen. I’m sorry I work ALL day so I can make a living to support this household while you sit around with your cabinets, gabbing away all day.
Kitchen: You got off like four hours ago, and you watched like two hours of television.
Me: Well I’m gonna start cooking now.
Kitchen: Please… proceeeeed.
Me: (under my breath) Bitchen.
Kitchen: WHAT DID YOU JUST CALL ME?
In honesty, I took back to the kitchen like we had never been apart. I staged the counter space in preparation for the meal, making sure every ingredient was in the shape it needed to be for its role in the recipe. I’ve graduated in that regard. I’m used to not reading ahead. Tonight the counter was my stage and the recipe was my performance. Maybe the break did me good.
This was the first gnocchi recipe I’ve ever cooked where you cook the gnocchi in a skillet. The nice thing about gnocchi is it boils in about five minutes. But in a skillet for five minutes with one tablespoon of oil? This made me worry. I let it sit for ten, browning the edges.
I cut up the onion, sans tears, and minced the garlic. Everything else was in cans. The recipe, though it took a while to cook in all the steps, was quite easy. I added the onions to the mix first, softening them in the snapping oil. Spinach was added, shrinking and wilting in the oil and water. Other ingredients followed one by one until my wok was overflowing.
The gnocchi actually cooked well in the oil. It was plenty soft and browned to perfection. I added the the additional ingredients to the gnocchi in a big pan. I cleaned the kitchen while the cheese melted in.
I sat alone at my kitchen table. My Patty Griffin album came to an end as I enjoyed my meal. I thought about this year, how I decided I would start cooking at its beginning and it took a whole 16 days to pick up my butcher knife. And I thought about how I didn’t care, because resolutions never work for me. Timelines never work. No more resolutions. No timelines. This year its just drive and a healthy sense of urgency.
And maybe less cheese in my next gnocchi dish.
On to the next one.