Gnocchi meets Italian sausage, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and bocconcini and is all baked up to produce a delicious and hearty meal.
We have been experiencing an unseasonably cold Spring here this year. We even had snow this past weekend and again yesterday. In May! So needless to say, comfort food season is getting an extended run here. This baked gnocchi is one of my favourite dinners, where gnocchi meets Italian sausage, tomatoes (both canned and sun-dried) and of course lots of garlic, basil and cheese.
Speaking of cheese, this baked gnocchi uses bocconcini - those lovely balls of fresh mozzarella that create the most awesome cheese pull fun when baked. Don't worry if you don't have bocconcini around. Regular mozzarella cut into cubes works nicely as well.
- Gnocchi - shelf stable, fresh or frozen will all work. Just cook according to the package instructions
- Italian Sausage - Mild or Hot, as you like
- Canned Tomatoes - Whole or Diced
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes - not required for a delicious dish, but they really up the tomato flavour!
- Bocconcini - I like the large balls, that I cut in half. If you don't have bocconcini, just cut regular mozzarella into large cubes, so you sill get the puddle of cheese effect.
- Garlic, red pepper flakes (optional), basil (fresh or dried) and Parmesan cheese
- If using whole canned tomatoes, drain the can into a mesh strainer to remove the liquid, then gently squeeze the whole tomatoes to drain off some of the thin liquid from the insides of the tomatoes. This will ensure a nice thick, tomato sauce. Draining isn't necessary for diced tomatoes.
- Make use of the oil that the sun-dried tomatoes are packed in to saute your onion and to marinate your bocconcini.
- Speaking of bocconcini, I find it really benefits from a bit of marinating and a generous seasoning with salt and pepper. They don't need long to marinate. Just start them when you start your dish and let them sit on the counter until needed.
- Be sure to season your tomato/sausage sauce well. Taste it after it has simmered (before adding the gnocchi and bocconcini and add additional salt and pepper, as needed, to really bring out the flavours.
- You'll want to bake this at least 30 minutes, but it's even more delicious if you can leave it in the oven another 15-20 minutes longer. It get lovely and thick, while the gnocchi toasts up a little on top and any sausage that is peeking out browns. All wonderful ways to up the flavour in this one.
- Like most tomato-based dishes, any leftovers will keep well in the fridge to be enjoyed later, as well.
Step by Step Photos
- Step 1: Cook the garlic in hot oil until softened, about 1 minute. (Make use of some of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes!). Add some red pepper flakes at this point as well, if you like.
- Step 2: Add the sausage to the pan
- Step 3: Brown the sausage well.
- Step 4: Add the sun-dried tomatoes to the pan.
- Step 5: Add the drained tomatoes.
- Step 6: Break up the tomatoes with a potato masher.
- Step 7: Add some basil, oregano and season well with salt and pepper.
- Step 9: Add your marinated bocconcini.
- Step 10: Add the cooked gnocchi and stir it all to combine. Bake for 30-45 minutes.
Baked Gnocchi with Sausage
- 2-3 cloves garlic (minced)
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 3 links links Italian sausage (mild or hot, removed from casing and crumbled)
- 28 oz canned whole or diced tomatoes
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil, sliced)
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/4 cup fresh basil (sliced or 2-3 tsp dried basil leaves)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 lb gnocchi (shelf-stable or frozen)
- 7 oz bocconcini (halved)
- Additional fresh basil
- Freshly grated Parmesan
- Start a large pot of salted water to boil for the gnocchi.
- Halve the bocconcini and place in a small bowl. Drizzle with some olive oil (or some of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes) and season with some salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium heat (again, make use of some of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes). Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, if you like. Add the sausage and cook, stirring regularly, until cooked through and browned in spots. Add the sun-dried tomatoes.
- *When your water is boiling, cook your gnocchi according to package instructions and drain.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- If using canned whole tomatoes, drain off the juice with a strainer, then gently squeeze the tomatoes to release and drain off some of the liquid from the inside of the tomatoes. Add to the skillet. (If using Diced canned tomatoes, just add to the skillet as is). Mash the whole tomatoes with a potato masher to break up into smaller pieces. Add basil, oregano and a generous salting, along with some freshly ground pepper. Allow to simmer until your gnocchi is ready, to blend the flavours.
- When gnocchi is cooked, add to the skillet. Stir to combine. Add the bocconcini and stir in. If your skillet is oven-proof, pop into the oven. If not, transfer to an oven-proof skillet or baking dish.
- Bake at least 30 minutes or up to 45 minutes. Let stand a few minutes, then serve with additional fresh basil and freshly grated Parmesan.