This week I have felt slightly out of sorts in the kitchen. I haven’t felt particularly inspired. As I am watching my weight I tend to have the same kind of meals again and again: stir-fries with lots of veg, plainly cooked meat with vegetables, plus healthy meals I had previously made and frozen. They are tasty, nutritious and easy to cook, but have already been covered by previous posts in my blog, so you don’t need to read about them again today.
It’s all been a bit boring, and I decided that I needed to rediscover my cooking mojo this weekend. For that reason, I went to Chinatown with Andrew and drooled my way around the supermarket, buying too many different types of noodle along with sauces, spices, broths, sushi rice and wasabi, and other little goodies. My intention had been to cook some dishes this weekend with my new ingredients but I ended up stuck doing chores around the house and garden which ended in a Sunday morning and afternoon doing shuttle runs to and from the recycling centre. I won’t bore you with this mundanity any longer – it’s just to make clear my excuse for not cooking anything exciting for this week’s blog post.
I did make two lovely dishes though: one is going to be the subject of my Foodie Penpals post next week so I won’t spoil that here, and the other was a version of a dish I discovered in Cooking up a Storm – a book I reviewed for this very blog!
As the dish I am about to describe wasn’t actually planned, it ended up using various store cupboard staples, plus a couple of bits and pieces from the freezer. I did buy a piece of mozzarella on my way to get my bike serviced (see? thrilling weekend), but you could just as easily use whatever cheese you happen to have in the fridge.
So what did I make? Well, it was gnocchi with chorizo, spinach and tomatoes. And it was bloody lovely! For every element you could easily use an alternative, and even leave out a few ingredients if you don’t have them available. Gnocchi could be replaced by pasta; chorizo by chicken, ham or indeed nothing; fresh tomatoes by tinned; frozen spinach by broccoli or beans; other veg could be added depending on what you have (butternut squash, sweetcorn, peppers, onions, aubergine, courgette); herbs could be dried or fresh (or frozen in my case), and could be a combination of any, although I would avoid woody herbs like rosemary or thyme – oregano, sage, basil etc; the cheese on top could be any type – but even for dieters, I urge you to keep the cheese on top, as it does make a truly delicious topping!
One 400g packet of gnocchi, a chorizo (mine was one of those raw horseshoe shaped ones), 5 ripe tomatoes, a large teaspoon of lazy garlic, a handful of frozen leaf spinach, one mozzarella ball, grated cheddar, some dried chilli, some frozen basil, salt and pepper
Put the chopped tomatoes, sliced chorizo, garlic, chilli flakes and herbs in a casserole dish and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 mins. In the meantime, cook the gnocchi according to the pack’s instructions. I put the frozen spinach in with the gnocchi to save on washing up. Drain the gnocchi and spinach and mix in with the baked tomato and chorizo mixture, then top with pieces of mozzarella and grated cheddar and bake for a further 10 minutes.
When you take it out of the oven it will be boiling hot so leave it for 5 minutes to cool slightly before serving. I served mine with garlic bread and a large salad, and it was superb! It tastes gorgeous the next day as well.