I’ve been a big fan of Ruby Tandoh‘s ever since I read Eat Up! Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want a few years ago. So I was very excited to see her come out with Cook As You Are: Recipes for Real Life, Hungry Cooks and Messy Kitchens back in 2021. In all honesty, it’s the cookbook I’d wanted to write, so not having been able to pull that off I was just happy to read it and then cook from it.
Cook As You Are keeps accessibility top of mind, from having drawings instead of photos to avoid intimidating you (as well as allowing for expansive representation across the board, just look at the cover alone). To organizing recipes by chapters like Feed me now, More food, less work and Hidden in plain sight, as well as offering substitutions and multiple often easy ways to cook each recipe. To adding a low-prep icon to recipes for people with reduced mobility or energy.
Both gnocchi recipes in the book are on the table in not even 15 minutes and only this gnocchi with harissa butter and broccoli requires the lowest amount of chopping (though in some countries you can also buy pre-cut broccoli, so that means no chopping at all).
Gnocchi with Harissa Butter and Broccoli
I think everyone’s cooked Tandoh’s gnocchi with chili crisp, capers and parmesan at this point (if you haven’t there is a recipe here), I thought it best to share a different recipe from Cook As You Are. There’s quite a lot I want to cook from the book still. I’d planned to share a beetroot, lentil and haloumi dish, but then my supermarché stopped selling haloumi for winter (I guess? French concepts of seasonality sometimes work in mysterious ways). I was also considering any one of the three butter bean dishes that had caught my eye or the cacio e pepe lasagne, but those all felt like more work than my energy currently permits, so I settled for these gnocchi with harissa butter and broccoli instead.
It’s from the Feed me now-chapter and it was on the table within 15 minutes.
I shot it as straight forward as possible, and tried to keep the styling to a bare minimum, in keeping with Tandoh’s choice to have illustrations instead of photos to avoid intimidating home cooks. Something useful to know for home cooks is that most vegetables are left undercooked for photography to retain color. And we will organize and plump dishes, maybe even prop them up with a little instant mash underneath, to give a plate more bulk. In the photo for this recipe you might be able to spot that my broccoli has gone off slightly and has some less bright green looking bits, but as this is a quick cook (2 minutes on the boil, 6 minutes in the frying pan) the colors still don’t really disappoint, and my plate was as full as it appears here.
Adjustments and variations
As mentioned Tandoh offers many variations and substitutions for virtually all of the recipes in Cook As You Are, so I don’t have a whole lot to add. She even gives you two ways to cook this as well as alternatives to some of the ingredients, despite there not even being a whole lot of those to begin with (see recipe and recipe notes).
I did make a slight adjustment in that I halved the amount of nuts, gnocchi and broccoli as I was cooking just for me. I didn’t halve the butter or the harissa and I kind of want to recommend that if you’re cooking for two, you double those (or just the harissa). Other than that this is definitely a keeper and I’m very keen to try this with some other (hot) sauces, condiments and vegetables in the near future.
Gnocchi with Harissa Butter and Broccoli
- Frying pan stove-top method
- Large pan stove-top method
- Collander stove-top method
- Roasting tin roasting-tin method
- Large heatproof bowl roasting-tin method
- 25 g - 3 T roughly chopped nuts walnuts, almonds or pine nuts for example, I used smoked almonds
- salt to taste
- 1 small head of broccoli or pre-cut florets
- 500 g - 17.5 oz gnocchi
- 30 g - 2.5 T butter can be salted or unsalted, olive oil or vegan butter will also work
- 30 g - 2 T harissa more to taste (recommended if cooking for 2), red pesto, in a pinch of chili flakes or powder will also work
- If untoasted toast your nuts in a dry frying pan before roughly chopping them.
- Bring a pan of salted water to the boil while cutting your broccoli into medium-sized florets and cutting the stalk into 1/2 cm - 0.2" rounds.
- Once your water has come to the boil, add the gnocchi and broccoli and cook for 2 minutes. Drain well and allow to steam dry for a couple of minutes which will allow them to caramelize during the next steps.
- Melt 30 g of butter in your frying pan over a medium-high heat before adding 2 T of harissa (more to taste, which I recommend).
- Let the harissa sizzle for a few seconds before adding the gnocchi and broccoli to the pan and spreading them out in an even layer, floret-side down where possible. This will allow the broccoli to really soak up the flavors. Once everything's spread out in an even layer, resist the urge to move your broccoli or gnocchi around for at least 2 minutes (no shaking the pan either), this will allow them to caramelize.
- After 2 minutes give everything a stir, turn down the heat and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Season to taste, divide between two plates and sprinkle over your nuts from step one.
Roasting tin method
- Preheat your oven to 180° C/ 360° F.
- Get out a large roasting tin and toast 25 g - 2 T of nuts for 5-8 minutes, if using untoasted nuts. Remove from the oven, coarsely chop and set aside.
- Boil a full kettle. Tip 500 g - 17.5 oz gnocchi into a large heatproof bowl, season with salt and pour over the boiling water. Leave to sit for 2 minutes, then drain.
- Prepare the broccoli by breaking it into medium florets, if necessary. Trim and peel the stalk and slice into 1/2 cm - 0.2" rounds.
- Chuck in 30 g - 2.5 T of butter in the roasting tin and allow it to melt in your hot oven for a few minutes. Stir in 30 g - 2 T (more to taste, recommended) of harissa before tipping in the gnocchi and broccoli florets.
- Season with a little salt, mix everything well and spread out into an even layer before roasting for 25 minutes.
- Divide between two plates and sprinkle over your nuts from step one.
- I halved most of the ingredients, bar the butter and harissa, for a single-serve version of this dish. If you're making this for two I'd recommend doubling at least the amount of harissa.
- I think this could also be delicious with red or green pesto minus the chili flakes, or with a sambal of your liking, or with miso, gochujang, etc. etc. etc. There are probably a number of other vegetables this would also work incredibly well with (cauliflower is the first option that springs to mind), it's basically a good base-dish to create a plethora of variations from.
- I think some grated parmesan might also do nicely on this, or depending on what flavors you're using, a stirring through of a handful of cubed or broken up feta.
- Some people do not pre-cook their store-bought gnocchi, but I find they stay way too firm and inedible and pre-cooking them really brings out their pillowy goodness.
- I only tested the stove-top method, if you try the roasting-tin method please let me know how you get on.