This week’s recipe: Pan Fried Gnocchi
I’m reading Volker Ullrich’s Hitler: Ascent, which covers Hitler’s life from his birth until the start of World War II. It was the subject of that famous Michiko Kakutani review before the election that none-too-subtly drew parallels between Hitler and Trump, though without ever using the latter’s name. it’s extremely good so far, and because it’s 2017 and God forbid Trump not occupy our minds for more than 90 seconds at a time, I am constantly thinking about the similarities and differences between the early years of the Third Reich and America today.
Fortunately, there are many more differences than similarities. For one thing, we are seven months into the Trump administration and he has yet to impose a totalitarian dictatorship or set the Capitol building on fire as a pretext for jailing his political enemies. It’s truly amazing how fast Hitler was able to consolidate absolute power—five months. Everyone in his way got bamboozled, co-opted, or forced out. As with Trump, there were plenty of politicians and power brokers who showed great distaste for Hitler, but who thought they could ride the wave and ultimately exploit this useful idiot for their own ends. As with Trump, they learned their lesson, though getting sent to Dachau is significantly worse than being humiliated on Twitter.
Another difference is the level at which street violence was considered an accepted part of life. I was pleasantly surprised at how Charlottesville dominated the headlines for days, considering that our news media typically has the attention span of me in third grade math class. But in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, that sort of violence was considered just another Tuesday. These things are definitely becoming more frequent in America but it’s good to know that we still find them shocking. (An obligatory note about Antifa: I’m no expert on it, but I can certainly see the danger of a bunch of masked vigilantes whom no one elected and who are accountable to no one, deciding—often on sight—who qualifies as a fascist and therefore deserves a violent beat down. A totalitarian worldview that disdains democracy and the democratic compact; using force to impose your version of acceptable speech and politics; declaring that people who don’t conform to your vision don’t have the right to, say, non-violently protest in a public space—all sounds pretty fascist to me.)
But the biggest difference is simply that Trump lacks Hitler’s canniness, discipline, and will to power. I know it’s been said a million times before, but it’s our nation’s one great fortune in these dark times that he is stupid and lazy, because if he had even one-tenth of Hitler’s ruthless vision and drive, we’d all be in even deeper doodoo than we are. The closest thing that his administration had to a Hitler-level strategic thinker/ideologue was Bannon, and I can’t overstate my relief that he’s gone. That doesn’t mean that Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, Kris Kobach, and other ideologues in high places can’t do some serious damage—indeed, they already have—but reading this biography has been oddly reassuring. For now, we have government institutions, a free press, and a population all willing to push back, none of which existed in Nazi Germany. Whatever catastrophes the Trump presidency brings on us, at least they’ll be met with a fight.
So anyway, here’s some gnocchi. This was seriously one of the fastest, easiest dinners I’ve ever made, and so delicious too! I can’t believe I didn’t know about the wonder of pan-frying gnocchi until this recipe. The original recipe calls for mushrooms, which I of course left out—NEVER will you see a recipe calling for mushrooms on this blog—but if you feel like eating fungus, knock yourself out and add it back in. This is a great dinner to make for a crowd, because you can make multiple batches very quickly. I doubled the recipe, which was lucky because it was so yummy that everyone had two servings!
One Pan Gnocchi with White Beans, Sundried Tomato, and Spinach
Adapted from Sweet Peas and Saffron
- 500g/18 oz packaged gnocchi
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- ⅓ cup sundried tomatoes, diced
- 4 cups loosely packed spinach
- 540mL/19 oz white beans, drained and rinsed
- Parmesan cheese
- Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat.
- Add the gnocchi and separate them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes, or until golden and slightly crispy.
- Add the sundried tomatoes, spinach and white beans. Stir until spinach is wilted and everything is heated through.
- Add additional salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
- Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.