AKA ‘easy dins for little ones when the mums need to get on the wine and chat fast.’ I first posted it on Facebook when my frazzled friend was over with her children one Friday after school. It remains one of the easiest recipes and most quickly gobbled dinners I’ve made this year.
I was exhausted from a week of cooking, so instead of making gnocchi in a tomato sauce as I’d planned, I threw everything in the oven together so that it could cook while the children played and we cracked open the wine. Most of my recipes come from similar (although not always wine-fuelled) changes of plans.
I’ve never had a reaction to a recipe like the one I had to this. People were stopping me at the school gates and leaving messages on social media, tagging all their friends, saying how much they and their children loved it. Months on, I get a few people a week telling me this is one of their weekly dinners. It struck a cord for how many of us feel at the end of the week. So I’m finally typing it up properly so that everyone, even the social media avoiders can get in on the action.
Given the casualness of its creation, I’m sharing the recipe in a casual way too…
To serve 4 small people or 2 adults buy…
One bag of fresh gnocchi
I buy the 500g bag of Waitrose essential gnocchi from near the fresh pasta, most of the supermarkets sell a similar one. In the US buy fresh gnocchi from Whole Foods or use the De Cecco longlife gnocci from most supermarkets, Trader Joe’s do a good longlife gnocchi too)
8-12 free range pork chipolata sausages
I buy them from Sainsburys, Lidl or Waitrose. In the US you can get them at the Whole Foods meat counter. If you cant find chipolatas, just get regular sausages from the meat counter and squeeze them so they are thinner – it just means they cook faster. Or you can use scissors to chop fatter sausages into pieces – say 4 pieces from one sausage, so they’re like mini meatballs like I did the next time I made it.
3 handfuls of cherry tomatoes and a head of broccoli, chopped into florets. Or use tenderstem broccoli or green beans.
Toss the gnocchi, sausage, greens and tomatoes in a large lasagna dish with a drizzle of oil. The greens will go pretty crispy and dark. If you prefer them to be softer, add them half way through cooking. Shake it about then chuck it (that’s how casual we’re being) in a hot oven 180°C fan (200°C regular) or 360°F convection (390°F regular).
Cook for 30-40 minutes, shaking it once half way through, until the sausages are golden, the tomatoes pop and the gnocchi goes both crispy and soaks up the juices.
Finish with a sprinkle of red wine vinegar – essential this bit to brighten things up. You can add some Parmesan if you like. Job done.