THE WASHINGTON POST – Stephen Colbert once tweeted, “Every thirty minute recipe is a lie.”
My immediate reaction was to chastise the famously late-night talk show host, but then I did a little self-reflection and I got where he was coming from.
Too often, we food writers say that a dish can be pulled together in a flash, but then we hear from home cooks who say it took them much longer.
Many factors can influence how long it takes to prepare a recipe, including cooking experience, available tools and appliance variations, but this recipe from Great British Bake Off finalist Ruby Tandoh’s soon-to-be-published cookbook, Cook As You Are, is the real deal.
All you need are two big-flavoured, common ingredients, a little fat and a hot skillet, and in about 10 minutes, you will have a salty, spicy sauce to go with your favourite pasta.
To make the dish, you first put the gnocchi on to boil. Then you spoon capers and chilli crisp into melted butter in a skillet and sizzle them together for a couple of minutes. When your sauce is good and hot, you add the cooked pasta to the skillet, with a bit of reserved pasta water if needed, and stir and toss until it is well-coated and slick with the oil.
You scoop that into a bowl, top it with grated parmesan, and you’re off to the races.
I had to pick up gnocchi at the supermarket, but I had everything else I needed to make this dish, including the brand of chilli crisp that Tandoh recommends, Lao Gan Ma.
If you don’t keep chilli crisp at home, consider doing so. It and other flavourful condiments are a key to quick weeknight cooking because they are an effortless way to boost umami and, in this case, add texture, too.
How much do I use it? When our staff picked our favourite condiments in 2020, chilli crisp was my clear choice because you can toss it with noodles or vegetables, mix it into eggs and stir-fries, and spoon it over soups.
GNOCCHI WITH CHILLI CRISP SAUCE, CAPERS AND PARMESAN
This five-ingredient recipe, from the British food writer Ruby Tandoh, comes together in about 20 minutes. Both the parmesan cheese and the capers are salty, so taste before adding more salt. Tandoh recommends the Lao Gan Ma brand of chilli crisp, as well as vegan butter and vegan parmesan cheese for those avoiding dairy. This makes a fine weeknight dinner or could work as a side pasta as well.
– Two pounds potato gnocchi
– Three tablespoons unsalted butter
– Three tablespoons capers in brine, well drained, plus more to taste
– Two tablespoons chilli crisp
– Two ounces grated parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and cook according to the package instructions.
Reserve quarter cup of the cooking water and drain the gnocchi.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Once it’s sizzling, add the capers and chilli crisp, making sure to get spoonfuls of the crispy chilli flakes – not just the oil on top – and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Add the gnocchi to the pan, along with a couple of tablespoons of the reserved cooking water, then stir or shake the pan until the gnocchi are well-coated and everything is hot, about one minute, adding more water as needed if the pan is dry.
Remove from the heat and serve right away, with the parmesan on the side.