Another one of my favorite dishes from Sichuan Gourmet is this dish of Chinese cabbage in chili sauce. Though they have a “spicy” icon next to it on the menu, it is actually not all that spicy compared to things like the Ma Po Tofu I posted the other day. It is incredibly well-balanced; a little sweet, a little savory, a little spicy. It’s a great thing to have alongside dishes that are a lot hotter, or dishes that are mild. My wife prefers to get dishes without meat, so we ordered this one time as a compromise and we both like it so much that we order it every time now.
Another impromptu dinner for one. Some store-bought potato gnocchi tossed in butter with some chopped sage, chopped garlic, and a little grated Parmesan on top. I managed to forget to save a little pasta water when I drained the gnocchi, because I wasn’t paying attention, and I think it would have made things a little saucier, but it was still plenty tasty. My wife grew a planter of fresh herbs this summer, and though we are late into December, there was still some sage growing. so I used some of that.
I’ve only ever made gnocchi from scratch once, when I was in cooking school. We even used the little ridged board so they would come out with the traditional shape. But that’s optional, and it’s perfectly acceptable to just make little pillow-shaped ones with a knife, I’ve just never gotten around to it. These were perfectly acceptable as is, and it seems like other than bragging rights, there’s no compelling reason to make them from scratch.
I have really scaled back my cooking over the last 6-8 months because my evening commute sometimes doesn’t get me home until 6:30, and because once I did get home, I was often too tired to be bothered. Moreover, withour daughter away at college, cooking for two, when one of those people is a fussy eater, felt like a chore. Nevertheless, I do cook dinner one or two nights a week, as time, energy level and interest permit.
This was an improvised meal I made just for myself, because my wife wasn’t hungry. There was a little bucatini in the cupboard from another easy meal we like (the famous TikTok Feta and Tomato Pasta), and several cans of tuna. I made a basic white sauce and added a can of tuna (drained) to that, then combined it with the pasta and about 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. I threw in some capers to add a little acidity, then some grated Parmesan on top.
I learned the pasta water trick from watching Lidia Bastianich’s cooking shows. It works for just about any kind of sauce you have, helping it coat the pasta better and enriching the mouthfeel of the sauce.
Bucatini is a fun pasta, and great with a creamy sauce like this, but I think this would work with shells, orichiette, or even elbow macaroni. The bucatini made it feel a little more elevated and a little less like tuna noodle casserole.