Somewhat to my surprise, the arrival of Baby P hasn’t slowed my cooking that much. Sure, it’s a borderline disaster some days, trying to get it to all come together and eat it during a hopefully-conveniently-timed nap. But, I still cook most days! It helps that I’m on leave and can pre-cook things during morning naps and what have you, but still.
And interestingly enough, I still cook new things too. I’ve admitted before that I don’t make that many of the recipes here more than once or twice – not because they weren’t good, but just because I like cooking new things, and there are only so many days in a week and meals we can eat. So even with Baby P, I’ve kept up that little habit of mine. And see, this is why I continue with the Eats posts, even if they are not the most popular (or Buzzfeed-worthy, ha). Thanks, blog! You are useful once again!
That said, this recipe that I tried after Baby P’s arrival has already had a repeat in his short life, and I expect it’ll turn up again and again. It’s a new and far improved version of this gnocchi bake I made years ago, and by “improved” I mean “takes way more time to make since jarred sauce is not involved”. But oh, it is worth it! It’s based on this gnocchi bake by Donal Skehan, but I’ve taken the liberty of beefing it up, or rather sausageing it up, and using more basic store-bought ingredients. Basically I Americanized it, and I’m ok with that because it is delicious.
We start by browning Italian sausage. I cooked a whole 1-pound package, but you only need 1/2 pound. Save the other half for topping a flatbread or making Christmas pasta!
Drain off most of the grease and remove the sausage from the pan to set aside. Then add a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon or two of minced garlic, and a teaspoon or so of dried onion. (Hey, I’m getting more specific than “some”!) Sauté for a few minutes over medium heat until the garlic is golden.
Then partially drain two cans (~15 oz. each) of petite diced tomatoes, and add those in. By “partially”, I mean just pour a bit of the liquid out... don’t overthink it. You can see below how much I left behind!
To the tomatoes, add several shakes of red pepper flakes, a teaspoon of sugar, and a bit of salt and pepper. Bring it all to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for twenty minutes. Just twenty minutes. Mine went thirty (because newborns need attention) and cooked down a bit too much. Here’s my before:
And after thirty minutes:
Oops! Yeah, it would be better to have some liquid left behind. Fortunately, it all still tastes good in the end.
Meanwhile, while your sauce is cooking (but not too much!), start boiling the gnocchi. I used a bit over a pound, a 500g package. Hey, remember when I made my own gnocchi by hand that time? Haha, yeah, file that under “only made once” (but I’m still glad I did)!
The gnocchi won’t take long to cook – just follow the package directions.
Once everything is all cooked, stir the sausage into the tomatoes:
And then stir in the gnocchi, and dump it all into a greased 8x8” casserole dish.
Then top it with mozzarella and basil! The source uses fresh mozzarella and basil, but it’s winter in the Midwest, so I used store-bought shredded cheese and dried basil, because this is how we do here.
If you want, you can pre-make it to this point and leave it in your fridge or freezer to bake at a later date! Or just go ahead and pop it in preheated 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, covered in foil for the first 15 minutes or so.
Once it’s done:
You have a super filling, super tasty dinner! Honestly, I think this is one of those dishes that turns out greater than the sum of its parts. I thought the sauce would be too simple – no seasoning besides salt and two types of pepper – but it turned out great! And that’s using super-basic grocery store ingredients. I imagine if you spent the money on quality ingredients, it’d be amazing! The leftovers are tasty, too.
I’m already looking ahead to the next time I can add this to the meal plan. Maybe it’ll make your regular rotation, too! Enjoy!