Dinner for hungry, tired people

Well Grandpappy is still at the rehab hospital. Poor guy. For the first time ever he wants to stay in 24 hour care, which bums us all out. I mean the guy has been able to take perfectly good care of himself up until a couple of days ago so it's an adjustment.

Let me explain - he is 93. Yeah, yeah, I know! But the last time he was overnight in the hospital for himself was 8 or 9 years ago. Before that was when he was born, or maybe when he had his tonsils out because now that I think about it, I think he was born at home.

Probably because back then it took too long to hook up the horse & buggy. Har har!

Anyway, so Grandpaps is for real unwell. Which has put us all out of sorts. Plus Mercury is in retrograde.

Then today I took a vacation day to have a new computer installed at my folks house, and also used this time to do all my laundry.

But I could not shake the feeling of out-of-sorts-ness. I felt like I ought to have been doing something else, or going somewhere else. Ugh, it's that same feeling when your clothes don't fit and you feel itchy.

So I decided to make dinner for me and La Maman. Sometimes out-of-sorts-ness can be cured with wine and girl time.

I can't promise that this recipe will work out amazingly because I made it up out of found items - found in the pantry, found in the fridge, found in the freezer. But I suppose that just makes it more out-of-sort appropriate. Oh and do yourself a favor, read the whole recipe through. I am a dreadful recipe writer and I bore quickly of it, so make sure you know what I am trying to tell you to do before you do it.

Out-Of-Sort-Ness Supper

I found a bag of plain frozen potato gnocchi, a yellow pepper, an onion, some garlic, a can of chopped tomatoes, a few spoons of capers, and a sprinkling of Parmesan.

If you haven't got gnocchi, try some cooked broken up spaghetti or cooked farfalle or rotini. You can use a green or a red pepper, or a finely chopped cauliflower would be nice. If you haven't got the capers or Parmesan, don't worry about it. As for the onion, garlic, or can of tomatoes, if you don't have those, forget cooking - you need to go shopping!

First prep the veg and get all the ingredients together. Take the bag of gnocchi out of the freezer, have olive oil and butter handy. Sliced up the pepper, lengthwise and then in half. Peel the onion, then cut in half, leaving the root end attached. Lay the onion, flat side down, and make a cut lengthwise before slicing thinly. Eh, cut it however you like, basically you are looking for thin, uniform, quarter slices. Peel the garlic and chop finely or get it ready to squish through the press. Put aside about three tablespoons (more or less depending on how you like them) and have the Parmesan out.

In a big, deep cast iron pan I heated up about a tablespoon of olive oil and about the same of butter which should sizzle and bubble up. When it does, pour in the entire bag of frozen gnocchi and saute for a few minutes, turning with a spatula as they brown. Don't cook for too long, or they'll get gummy - maybe about 5 to 7 minutes. You are going for crispy crust here, not hard boiled - so to speak.

Remove the gnocchi to an oven proof dish and return cast iron pan to heat, which should be about medium. Add a splash of olive oil, give it a minute to heat up, then add the chopped pepper. Stir occasionally to turn for a few minutes, then add the sliced onion. Let it cook for a bit, stirring now and then. You want to cook it sort of slowly so that it gets caramelized and brown, not burnt and black. I added in a pinch of sugar to aid in the caramelizing, but you don't have to.

Just as the pepper and onion mixture is starting to brown, add (or squish in) the garlic and the capers. Cook for a few minutes longer, turning now and again. Then drain the can of tomatoes a little, and dump into the pan with the pepper and onion. Cook this for about 3 - 5 minutes, letting some of the liquid boil away. You don't want a terribly wet mixture, but not bone dry either.

Add back in the gnocchi and stir everything together over the heat. Season with ground black pepper, and if you didn't use the capers, add in a pinch of salt and a pinch of crushed red pepper. When it's well combined and just heated through, transfer everything back to the oven-proof dish.

Cover the dish until ready to serve. If it's not going to be for a while, reheat in the oven, until just hot. Before serving, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Alternatively you can dust the top with a layer of breadcrumbs before reheating the dish, or you can toast under the broiler until golden.

Could possibly serve three or four with a nice side salad - maybe a few arugula leaves tossed with a squeeze of lemon and a few grains of sea salt.. However this, plus a glass or two of a nice wine, will happily serve two out-of-sorters.


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