Summer nights call out for easy food that is also fresh and vibrant, abundant with tomatoes, herbs, and other garden booty. This skillet is the dish I make when I want a 15-minute meal with just a handful of ingredients, but one that tastes like summer in the mouth.
Gnocchi, blistered cherry tomatoes, chicken sausage, and a handful of basil — look, I've told you the whole ingredient list already.
I am such a fan of gnocchi in the summertime. Their fat-bellied shapes hold their own with juicy tomatoes and other vegetables; it's so fun to spear a gnocchi bite with a piece of sausage and tomato in this dish. It fits perfectly in the mouth, no trailing pasta to manage.
And while you can certainly make your own gnocchi, store-bought works just fine here. I usually opt for gnocchi that needs a quick cook, but you can also buy pre-cooked gnocchi that's all ready to throw into the skillet.
For sausage, use whatever you like. I use pre-cooked chicken sausage, and I vary the flavors — this time I used jalapeño for a little sizzle, but I have also used garlic, Asiago, and other delicious sausage varieties.
Last but not least, I finish this with basil, not cheese. You're welcome to use Parmesan, if you like, but in the summer I try to resist the temptation to finish off every Italianesque dish with Parm; let the tomatoes and basil star here.
Gnocchi Skillet with Chicken Sausage & Tomatoes
1 pound gnocchi
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
9 ounces (about 3 links) cooked chicken sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick coins
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1 to 2 ounces fresh basil, julienned (1/2 to 1 cup loosely packed)
Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling; cook the gnocchi for 2 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and toss with a drizzle of olive oil.
Heat a 10-inch or larger cast iron skillet over medium heat with a light drizzle of olive oil. Add the sausage and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Push the sausage into a pile at the edge of the skillet and turn the heat up to high.
When the skillet is quite hot, add the tomatoes, skin down, crowding them in if necessary. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until they are blistered, then stir in with the sausage. Cook for 2 more minutes, until both tomatoes and sausage are slightly browned. Stir in gnocchi and cook just until all is combined, but the tomatoes have not broken down into sauce.
Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Any cooked chicken sausage is good in this dish, although I do prefer one with a little extra flavor added, like red peppers or garlic.
I specify a cast iron skillet because I think it gives the best color and sear to the tomatoes and sausage. However, any deep skillet or sauté pan should work as well, provided it doesn't have a nonstick coating, which will interfere with browning.