When the dumpling and the potato had a steamy Italian love affair, you can be sure they didn’t plan to produce gnocchi nine months later. But there it was, the little lump of joy, bathed in tomato sauce, and swaddled in slightly melted chunks of fresh mozzarella.
Okay, I think this metaphor has gone too far. I can’t tell whether I want to hug this little bundle of joy or eat it.
No, wait, I can tell.
I want to eat it.
Living alone and cooking for one person, I have found, is a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, I can cook whatever I want, whenever I want (hello, midnight curly fries). But on the other hand, I’m cooking it just for me, and there is never an easy recipe that will easily factor it’s way down into a single serving. It seems like one of the biggest challenges I face at university now is how on earth I am going to serve a quarter of a garlic clove, and what I’m going to do with the rest of the bulb now that I’ve broken it.
But back to the fun part– the cooking. I’m using this recipe from BBC Good Food– mostly because in all my years cooking, the Beeb has never let me down. I’m skipping out the red pepper this time around, because I don’t particularly like them, but I’m sure you could always just replace it. I’m not sure what with, meat maybe if your carnivorous side just can’t stand eating only vegetables and starches.
Making the dish wasn’t exactly too difficult, but then I have always been a sucker for following instructions. Though I strayed from them slightly when I added a spoonful of sugar to the tomatoes– but that was because my Mum always tells me that I should– and a pinch of the mixed herbs that I have kicking around my cupboard from an earlier endeavor.
And honestly, the end result was something… magical. Undefinably beautiful. I’ve never used fresh mozzarella before, and though it might not have much going for it taste wise, when paired with that humble little potato dumpling, it suddenly became one of the most important cheeses in the universe.
I would be happy to order this in a restaurant, the fact I can get this from my own kitchen any time I want is one of those things that you think might only happen in fairy tales.
But now, I suppose I ought to look at this from the perspective of a student. Assuming, perhaps naively, that every student on the planet is struggling financially and also inept at cooking, this meal fits the criteria of being both cheap and easy. All you really have to be able to do is chop an onion (not that anyone particularly likes doing it) and open a few packets.
As for money wise? Well, gnocchi is about the same amount of money as a bag of pasta, and pre-chopped tomatoes are possibly another one of the cheapest foods alive– you can also buy them bulk, which is good because they can make up the base of so many different dishes. Perhaps the most expensive items on this list is the fresh mozzarella and basil– but for the basil at least, check the supermarket’s “still fresh” section and then, like I did, you’ll probably find more than you need for about 20p.
This meal could also be frozen if you split it into portions before adding the mozzarella and grilling. But I think it might be best made in a large serving, and shared with friends with some drinks or even before a night out. It might fill you up to the point where you don’t really feel like clubbing, but if you do manage to roll out your front door, then it’ll at least stop you getting too drunk too soon.
But as I get to the point where I’m ready to sign off on this blog post, you’re probably thinking, “Wait, phoebe, didn’t you say literally yesterday that you were going to eat healthy this year? Where does this meal fit in?”
And to be frank, it doesn’t.