Kitchn Love Letters

This Gnocchi-with-Brussels-Sprouts Dish Was the Best Thing I Made in All of 2020

published Jan 12, 2021
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Gnocchi Skillet
Credit: Grace Elkus

Like most of you, I cooked more than I ever have in 2020. I’ve always cooked a lot, but with both me and my husband at home all day every day, I found myself planning make-ahead breakfasts, preparing daily lunches, and making dinner nearly every night of the week. I also started making snacks (grazing boards for two, roasted chickpeas, power bites, and more). I hopped on the Baking Bandwagon, making batch after batch of cookies, countless loaves of banana bread, and too much pie. I even made a few special treats for my pup, Millie. I relied heavily on my go-to recipes and I tried dozens and dozens of new ones, too.

Why am I telling you about all of the cooking I did last year? To illustrate the fact that, when I tell you this New York Times recipe was the best thing I made IN ALL OF 2020, you know that I’m comparing it to nearly 365 days’ worth of meals.

Credit: Grace Elkus

What Makes This Recipe So Great

Let’s talk about this recipe. The New York Times promises that it comes together in just 20 minutes — and it does! It calls for just nine very basic ingredients, like olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon, honey, and red pepper flakes. The two main ingredients are also things I always have on hand: shelf-stable potato gnocchi and Brussels sprouts. Not only is the dish incredibly easy to make, but it’s also done in a single skillet. It’s quick! It calls for a few, inexpensive ingredients! It doesn’t require me to make a mess! And it’s downright delicious!

A few years ago our Senior Contributing Food Editor, Sheela Prakash, taught me the splendors of sheet pan gnocchi, and this recipe gives the same results in less time. You sear the gnocchi in a skillet (I use my Lodge 12-inch cast iron skillet) and they become crisp and golden on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. Sort of like fried dough, as the recipe states. The halved sprouts cook, undisturbed, until the cut sides are nice and brown; they provide a nice charred-yet-tender veggie contrast to the gnocchi. You simply cook the sprouts, dump them out, cook the gnocchi, and marry them back together. Plus, you use browned butter, honey, lemon, and red pepper flakes along the way. So the resulting dish is sweet, tangy, nutty, and a bit spicy all at once. Oh, and like any good meal, it gets topped with freshly grated Parmesan for another nutty touch.

The first time I made this (back in October), my husband and I took a bite at the exact same time, making sure to get one sprout and one gnocchi. We looked at each other and said, simultaneously, that it was the best thing I’d made all year. I couldn’t get over how flavorful it was! Especially considering how easily it came together.

The next day, I connected with Grace Elkus, our deputy food director, because I wanted to rave about the recipe. She promptly made it soon after and reported back: She also loved it, but told me she added a squeeze of extra lemon juice at the end. And a dash of balsamic. Brilliant ideas!

I actually waited a while before I made it again because I was afraid that the second time wouldn’t be as good as the first. (I’m officially coining this FOMA — Fear of Making Again.) Eventually I did and it was even better than I had remembered. I’ve since made this dish a half-dozen times, sometimes using Grace’s tip of extra lemon juice and balsamic, sometimes without. And every time, it seems to taste even better than my last memory.

We’re just a few weeks into 2021, but I might even go as far as to say it will be the best thing I make this year, too.

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.