Good instincts are important in life and they’re important in cooking too. There are times when I don’t trust my gut and I almost always regret it. Instincts are something you hone with life experience–they’re not some New Age-y hippie-dippie thing! And as we get older, our instincts get better and better. So you should never second guess yourself or do something that doesn’t feel right to you just because other people are doing it. Trust yourself. That little voice inside your head is years of experience talking.
A lot of people tell me that they can’t cook and I don’t think that’s true–the problem is that a lot of people never give themselves the opportunity to cook without recipes or guidance. That’s how you develop your instincts when it comes to cooking–by playing with different ingredients and flavors. As you gain experience doing that, you gain confidence. Your instincts get better. Cooking is not a skill you’re born with; it’s something that can only come with practice. If you’ve only cooked by following recipes, try putting together one meal a week without a recipe. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate–in fact, it’s probably best to keep it simple. It might be disastrous at first, but I promise you, you’ll get better and better with each meal.
Gnocchi is an easy ingredient to experiment with. And while I have a recipe for gnocchi on my blog, I don’t have a recipe using gnocchi. It was clearly time, right? Because gnocchi are little pillows of deliciousness. Since I’m on a Brussels sprouts kick, I added those too, along with fresh lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, and olive oil. I knew all of these things went together because I’ve used them in my cooking before. Even though this was the first time I put all the ingredients together in a recipe, my experience told me it would work out. Which it did! You can serve this with a salad for a light meal or divide it into two or three servings if your appetite is a little bigger. It’s a delicious, easy fall dinner.
Gnocchi tossed with roasted Brussels sprouts, lemon zest, and toasted pine nuts.
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound gnocchi, cooked according to package instructions and drained
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Toss the Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large bowl. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally.
- Transfer the gnocchi and Brussels sprouts to the large bowl. Toss with the lemon zest, pine nuts, and cheese, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
In Europe, Parmesan cheese is never vegetarian. Substitute a different kind of cheese if you're a strict vegetarian.