Gnocchi with Zucchini, Tomato, and Lemon

Gnocchi with Zucchini, Tomato, and Lemon

I’ve never been what you’d call a summer person. Sure, as a fat kid I anticipated its arrival with glee—no school! summer camp!—but then would come the painful heat rash, the chub rub of my too-fat thighs, the taunts of the other kids when I’d show up in a bathing suit. In the pool I felt free, weightless, so I spent as much time as possible swimming. But on dry land? Eh, summer pretty much sucked. It wasn’t much better as a fat adult, either. All that natural insulation made me feel the heat more intensely than others; to avoid chafing thighs I’d wear shorts under my skirts, which only boosted my internal temperature. Cool, breezy sundresses were off-limits: who wanted to look at my abundantly fleshy arms? Certainly not me. (Can you feel the self-loathing? Sigh.)

After I lost all the weight, Hot Debbie made the most of summers, with Hamptons shares and bikinis. But I still didn’t love the season—it all felt frantic to me, as if everyone was trying to cram a year’s worth of fun and abandon into a few short weeks.

This year, I hardly even noticed summer. Harry was in camp, so that was different, and we ran the air conditioner. But I’m working so hard that there are days when I don’t even leave our apartment—all I do is cook, write, and hang with Stephen and Harry. For me, the only difference between summer and the rest of the year was in the variety at the farmers market. There, I’d swoon and scoop up more than I could carry.

That’s just about over now, but on Saturday there were still some good-looking tomatoes and zucchini, most likely the last for the season. I felt compelled to stock up. But when I went to cook with them, the nip in the air made a light, summery dish feel inappropriate. A little excavating in my super-organized freezer turned up a bag of gnocchi: perfect. About 20 minutes after I put the water on to boil, we were feasting on a meal that offered the ideal combination of just-picked, brightly flavored produce and filling, comforting heft.

And by “we,” of course I mean me and Stephen. Harry wouldn’t touch this with a ten-foot pole—not even the plain gnocchi, which I’d cleverly re-christened “macaroni pillows.” He didn’t fall for it. No, siree. But your child, I’m sure, will love it.

Gnocchi with Zucchini, Tomato, and Lemon
Serves 2-3
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Weight Watchers: This is 8 points for 3 servings, and 13 points for 2

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot
2 medium zucchini
salt & pepper
1 package frozen gnocchi
1 large tomato
2 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (I used a combo of mint, basil, and parsley, but almost anything would work)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  1. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. While it’s heating, prep the vegetables: finely chop the shallot; dice the zucchini; seed and dice the tomato; chop the herbs.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and when it shimmers add the shallot. Cook, stirring frequently, until it turns translucent, and stir in the zucchini. Let that cook undisturbed for a few minutes—you want it to brown a bit—then give it a stir and let it go a few minutes longer. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  3. By now the water should be boiling—add the gnocchi and cook according to package directions.
  4. Add the tomato to the zucchini mixture and cook, covered, for about 3 minutes, until the tomato softens nicely and the mixture looks juicy. Add the herbs and turn the heat to low.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the vegetables. Stir in the lemon juice, and if it looks dry add a splash or two of the cooking water. Simmer for another minute, until the water looks saucy rather than wet.