You know when you get around to dinner time dog tired, beat down, with a general feeling of blah? We had one of those last nights. A refrigerator less than full of food, no inclination what to make, and feeling even less inspired to make something out of nothing than normal. Usually in these moments, either J or I step forward and take the reigns, even if the reigns means sandwiches and a salad. Usually in these moments, it depends which of us is more in a funk than the other.
Last night? I was the “taker.” J wasn’t feeling himself, necessarily, and “had zero brain space to figure out what he wanted for dinner.” At this point in our relationship, both in the kitchen and out, I know this means please. Please figure it out for me, please don’t make me talk or think or brainstorm. Please. And so, I started looking.
Here’s what we had. 2 beautiful chicken sausages from our favorite meat market, a kitchen FULL of gorgeous tomatoes, and some fresh mozzarella. And then, upon looking deeper into the fridge, I found a still yet to expire container of Trader Joe’s whole wheat sweet potato gnocchi I clearly had the foresight to buy for exactly such an evening. Bingo!
I took the sausage out of the casing and crisped it up ground. Threw in a shallot and the tomatoes, cut into manageable pieces. Gave that a few minutes with some fresh oregano and red chili flakes, salt and pepper. Boiled some water, chucked in the gnocchi. 2 minutes later? Those suckers were floating, drained, and bathing in the quick-made tomato sauce, playing with the fresh mozzarella, and hanging out with some torn basil. I dressed both bowls with a bit of aged balsamic, grated pecorino, a few diced raw tomatoes, and dinner was ready in 20 minutes flat.
I’m not telling you this because the dish was so fantastic (it was) or because I couldn’t stop patting myself on the back (I couldn’t) all the way through Top Chef. I’m telling you this because YOU can do this. Those of you who have gardens are already one step ahead, but even if you don’t, you have STUFF. I bet you do. You have something you can make into something else that will taste delicious. You have leftover spaghetti or a box of something you impulse bought at some point. Look around you…
All you have to do is trust yourself. You don’t need me, or a cookbook, or the Food Network (though we’re all great sources.) You need your intuition, your soul, and a little brainpower.
Especially if you are cooking for someone without it in that particular moment.