Weeknight Shorts: Clever Comfort

If you're like me, you're already seeing hints of winter invading autumn. A snowflake or hundred have met you at the door and the wind has gone from chasing the leaves on their journey to the ground to whipping naked branches about like frantic arms at a rave. But there's comfort in the change as well. Soups, stews, and other hearty comfort food have joined our kitchen menus just as sweaters and blankets have found homes among every comfy spot in the house. So there's always a smile when I think of one-skillet dishes like this sausage and pepper-infused toasted gnocchi dish:

Italian sausage has long been a natural pairing with peppers and onions. Often gracing pizzas or sandwiches, they highlight each other's strengths and make up for any failings. When paired with toasted Italian dumplings called gnocchi, the match becomes pure heaven. Gnocchi is usually boiled, but I've recently enjoyed toasting the packaged version in a skillet for a dumpling that's tender within and crisp on the outside.

I like using spicy Italian sausage in this dish, but any version that you prefer is just fine. I also only use a few links, as it seems like the mix is nicer with an even mixture of meat, vegetables, and dumplings. That said, you can make this with much more sausage or, for a vegetarian version, omit it entirely (then use olive oil to fry the vegetables and dumplings and add a couple of teaspoons of Italian seasoning and some salt and pepper to the mix).

So if you're looking for a warm harbor from the changing seasons, take a little time out of your day to whip up this one dish meal, find that corner with your favorite sweater and blanket in it, and curl up with a bowl of this delightful comfort food.

Sausage and Pepper Gnocchi Skillet

  • 3 links Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 mini sweet peppers, sliced thin
  • 1 pkg. dried gnocchi
  • 8 oz. small tomatoes - I used pear tomatoes from my garden

In a medium skillet, brown the sausage over medium-high heat. When it is nearly ready, add the onion and peppers; fry together until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 7-9 minutes. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Place the gnocchi in the skillet and brown over medium heat. If the fat rendered from the sausage is not enough to toast the gnocchi, add up to a tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet for browning purposes. When the gnocchi is fully toasted, add the sausage and vegetables back to the skillet and stir well to combine. Add the small tomatoes and continue to stir until the mixture is warm. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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