Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vegetarian Baked Gnocchi

I made a Baked Gnocchi for dinner tonight. It was hearty and filling even though it was vegetarian. It's a quick dinner that I was able to whip up while Aaron was giving Ava a bath. I got the broccoli cut and Aaron helped me by cooking it while I was nursing Ava and the gnocchi was baking in the oven. It flowed easily and with the tag team action, dinner was done. It turned out great!

Gnocchi, Italian potato dumplings, are a treat. They are tender and when cooked right, are fluffy pillows of goodness! For tonight's baked version, I used Italian soy sausage and vegetables (fennel, fresh tomato, fresh spinach, and garlic) with a bit of chopped kalamata olives. I topped it with ricotta cheese, fresh chopped parsley, breadcrumbs, and shredded Parmesan cheese. Paired with broccoli, it was delicious and very easy to make.

Vegetarian Baked Gnocchi
Serves 4

  • 1 package of gnocchi (find it at Trader Joe's or World Market)
  • 1-14oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy Italian sausage
  • 1/2 bulb fennel (chopped small) or substitute onion instead
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh spinach (or 1/2 cup defrosted frozen)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 5 Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 4oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbs breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley or basil
  • 3 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
  • Start water for gnocchi pasta.
  • Chop vegetables and preheat medium skillet.
  • Coat pre-heated skillet with olive oil (liberally since soy sausage doesn't have fat like pork). Add fennel and garlic. Saute 2 minutes, then add soy sausage. Cook until sausage in browned and the fennel (or onion is cooked through). Add fresh tomato, spinach, and oregano. Saute until spinach is cooked. Keep warm until gnocchi is cooked.
  • When the water is boiling, add gnocchi carefully. The dumplings are heavier than pasta and will splash. I drop in a few at a time slowly. Cook according to the package directions, until the gnocchi floats to the top (about 5 minutes).
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Drain gnocchi and return to pot. Add can of tomato sauce, and sausage-vegetable mixture. Toss with chopped olives.
  • Coat an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray. Add gnocchi to the dish, then carefully scoop out small spoonfuls of ricotta cheese on the top of the gnocchi. Sprinkle evenly with parsley, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 25 minutes until bubbly.
  • Cook vegetables while gnocchi is baking.
  • Let gnocchi cool for 5 minutes before serving.
If you try this recipe, feel free to experiment with the vegetables. Other ideas would be zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, or mushrooms.

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