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Try This for Your Next Pasta Night: Baked Gnocchi with Sausage and Cheese

Hi, friends! Today’s recipe is a guest post by Nonna Box, a monthly Italian food subscription service. Nonna Box shares a delicious gnocchi recipe (Trust me, I know it’s good because I made it myself and tried it!). I know you’re going to love it so bookmark this recipe or pin it to your pasta Pinterest board. Oh, and it’s really simple to make, too!


 

Gnocchi is a pinnacle of Italian cooking and making gnocchi can be hard to master. If the dough is too dense, the gnocchi will be chewy and have a gummy texture. If too soft, the gnocchi will fall apart when boiled. It takes a true master of cooking to create a perfect gnocchi and once you have a good gnocchi recipe, you should never let it go!

 

History of Gnocchi

The word gnocchi has two possible origins, either deriving from the Italian word nocchio which means ‘a knot in wood’ or from the word nocca which means ‘knuckle’. Either way, the little dumplings have been around since Roman times and are said to have originated from the middle east. Gnocchi was made with squash, breadcrumbs or just flour (anything that could form a dumpling!) and was initially considered a peasants food as it was cheap and quite filling.

Gnocchi was popular in across the world very early on, with each country giving the dish its own twist. However, the gnocchi that we know of today was mostly developed and perfected by towns in northern Italy where it was made with potatoes. Each area of Italy has created their own twist on this now-classic dish and it is no longer a peasant food but one sought after by chefs and diners alike.

 

The gnocchi that we know of today was mostly developed and perfected by towns in northern Italy where it was made with potatoes. | Photo by Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit

What is Gnocchi?

Gnocchi is usually made with a few simple ingredients which can be added to and changed to suit individual preferences. flour, eggs, potatoes, and cheese are most commonly found in gnocchi. Occasionally, breadcrumbs or cornmeal can be found in gnocchi recipes as well. Herbs can be added into the dough for extra flavor and different types of cheese are frequently introduced. Gnocchi made with ricotta cheese, pumpkin rather than potatoes or with a strong gorgonzola cheese are a few examples of how the pasta can be altered.

 

Making the Dough

Making gnocchi from scratch is easy enough, you simply add all of the ingredients together in a bowl. When making gnocchi by hand, you want to do just that- use your hands! Using a food processor, mixer or blender will almost ensure that your gnocchi comes out tough and gummy. Machines tend to over mix which causes gluten development hence the tough gnocchi dough. Mixing with your hands will also help teach you what the proper dough texture should feel like.

 

NonnaBox is a monthly food subscription or a onetime adventure of carefully curated gourmet Italian products that highlight a different Italian theme each month with a recipe from an Italian grandma and wine pairings from an Italian sommelier. | Photo courtesy Nonna Box

Boil and Bake

Like many pasta dishes, gnocchi is great when simply boiled and served or when it is baked in a sauce. The choice is yours as to how you would like to enjoy your gnocchi! No matter how you plan on finishing your gnocchi, it does need to be cooked in boiling water initially. Luckily, gnocchi only takes a few quick minutes to cook, unlike some kinds of pasta which can take over ten minutes per batch. Three to four minutes in boiling water will usually do the trick for gnocchi!

 

Pairing Gnocchi

As mentioned, gnocchi is very versatile and can be paired with a wide array of sauces and meats- just think of it as a pasta dish! Tomato sauce, pesto or a simple oil and vinegar are a great way to serve a simple but delicious gnocchi on its own. Add some meat and vegetables and you have a main course rather than a side dish! And of course, all pasta is better when topped with cheese! Parmesan, mozzarella or a dollop of ricotta are each a perfect complement to a gnocchi dish.

Baked Gnocchi with Sausage and Cheese Recipe

This recipe embodies the classic flavors of gnocchi and is an easy enough dish to make at home. A nice Italian sausage, a delicious marinara sauce, and warmly melted mozzarella are sure to be a hit in any household. While the recipe for making the gnocchi dumplings is included, you can always opt for a pre-packaged gnocchi to save time. Make a double batch of this recipe and freeze one pan of gnocchi to bake at a later date- a perfect freezer meal!

Yield: one 9×13 Dish
Time: 1 hour

Gnocchi Ingredients:
⦁ 2 pounds baking potatoes
⦁ 1 egg
⦁ 1 teaspoon salt
⦁ 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
⦁ 1/3 cup grated parmesan
⦁ 2 cups flour

 

Gnocchi Directions:
⦁ Peel the potatoes, chop and place in a large pot of boiling water
⦁ Boil the potatoes until they are tender enough for a fork to easily slide through, about 15 minutes
⦁ Drain the potatoes and allow to cool. Pass the cooked potatoes through a ricer to mash them and make them fluffy.
⦁ In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and parmesan.
⦁ Add the potato mash and flour to the bowl and mix everything together by hand until soft dough forms. Add more flour if needed but keep in mind that the dough should be soft
⦁ Dust a work surface with flour and roll the dough in small batches into logs about 1/2 inch thick.
⦁ Cut the logs into 1-inch pieces and roll on the back of a fork to make an indentation.
⦁ Cool the gnocchi on a sheet tray in the fridge until you are ready to use it

This recipe embodies the classic flavors of gnocchi and is an easy enough dish to make at home. | Photo by Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit

Baked Gnocchi Ingredients:

⦁ 1 batch homemade gnocchi or 1 pound gnocchi
⦁ 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
⦁ 1 pound ground Italian sausage*
⦁ 1 white onion, chopped
⦁ 4 cups marinara sauce
⦁ 2 cups shredded mozzarella

*Dietary Substitute: You can substitute Italian sausage for turkey sausage. I used Jennie-O Lean Turkey Sausage for this recipe and it is delicious!

 

You can substitute Italian sausage for turkey sausage. I used Jennie-O Lean Turkey Sausage for this recipe and it is delicious! | Photo by Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit

Baked Gnocchi Directions:

⦁ Boil the gnocchi for 3-4 minutes or until the gnocchi floats to the top of the water. Strain and place the cooked dumplings in a large casserole dish.
⦁ Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion and sausage. Chop the sausage as it cooks so it is in small crumbles when it is done. Allow the sausage to brown slightly
⦁ Sprinkle the cooked sausage and onion over the gnocchi in the casserole dish then cover with the marinara sauce.
⦁ Sprinkle the mozzarella over the top of the dish and place in a 350 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.
⦁ Enjoy while hot!

 

Make a double batch of this recipe and freeze one pan of gnocchi to bake at a later date- a perfect freezer meal! | Photo by Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit

 

About NonnaBox:

NonnaBox is a monthly food subscription or a onetime adventure of carefully curated gourmet Italian products that highlight a different Italian theme each month with a recipe from an Italian grandma and wine pairings from an Italian sommelier.

 

Special thanks to Nonna Box for sharing their delicious Gnocchi recipe with Good Life Detroit readers! 

 

Here are two more recipes you may like:

Delicious Potato Masala 

Olives and Watermelon Skewers

 

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