Once upon a time…………. a few weeks ago I was in the mood for a gooey cheesy casserole. As I’m always looking for new pasta dishes I wanted to try a gnocchi recipe. Gnocchi is a small, dumpling-like pasta common throughout the whole of Italy made with semolina flour or potatoes. You’ll probably find them with the fresh or dried pasta in your supermarkets. While gnocchi is traditionally boiled and served with simple toppings such as olive oil and a little Parmesan, this recipe has you frying them for a crunchy twist.
I would not be surprised if this gnocchi dish becomes a regular in our meal rotation. It’s easy, fast and super tasty. I prefer to fry the gnocchi and cook the peas separately, but you could turn this into a one pot meal if you add the gnocchi and the peas into the tomato sauce. Then there will be only a little washing up to do afterwards. Sometimes cooking can be so relaxed, and sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax…….am I right?
My kids loved this gnocchi dish and gobbled it up before you I could say ‘bon appetit’. I’m sure it will also satisfy the carb lovers, the carnivores, the melty cheese eaters and even the veggie lovers in my life.
I usually serve this with a simple green salad but if you want to indulge you can always serve some crusty bread to mop up all the leftover sauce! For a less indulgent meal you can use minced chicken as a more healthy variant. Add spices like thyme and fennel seeds to mimic the seasoning of the Italian sausage used in this recipe.
Don’t you just love italian food? By the way…………did you hear about that italian chef that died?
He pasta way.
We cannoli do so much.
His legacy will become a pizza history.
He ran out of thyme
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!
- 500 grams of gnocchi
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 fresh sausages (choose a good brand with Italian spices or make your one)
- 200 grams of fresh baby spinach (or chopped normal size spinach)
- 1 tin of canned diced tomatoes with juices (do not drain)
- 70 ml of water or chicken broth
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp of dried thyme
- 2 tsp of paprika
- 100 grams shredded mozzarella cheese
- 25 grams of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 200 grams peas (fresh or frozen)
- Olive oil
- Salt and peppe
You start by cooking the gnocchi in a pan of boiling water for a couple of minutes (check the package for directions) until they float to the surface. Use a slotted spoon to take the gnocchi out of the water and strain the gnocchi until all of the liquid drains off. Don’t throw them into a hot frying pan immediately, because the water on the outside of the pasta will not allow the gnocchi to develop a nice, golden crust. Drain all the water (in a strainer) and add a drizzle of olive oil to a large frying pan over medium heat.
Put the gnocchi into the pan, and spread them around with the back of a spoon to create an even layer over the pan, this is very important for the crunchy crust. Let the gnocchi fry for a couple of minutes until they turn golden brown. Turn them gently with a spatula, and cook on the other side until brown and crispy. Take them out of the pan and set aside for later.
Cook the peas in a pan with boiling water for 4 minutes, drain and also set aside for later.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large broiler-safe skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until brown which will take approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Take the sausages out of their casing and cut them in little pieces. Add the garlic to the pan and fry for a minute with the onion. Then add the sausage, salt and pepper and cook for 4 minutes while breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon. Add spinach a handful at a time and cook, stirring, until wilted, this will take about 4 minutes.
Then add the canned tomatoes, the water (or the stock) and the dried herbs and spices. Taste and add seasoning when necessary. Mix well and add the fried gnocchi to the pan. Make sure there is enough liquid in the pan and if necessary add a dash of water. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and let it simmer for a while, until the cheese forms a melted gooey cheesy layer on the pasta. That takes about four minutes. In the meantime preheat the broiler of your oven.
Position a baking sheet in the upper third of oven. Broil until the cheese starts to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. This gives the cheese an irresistibly crusty crust. Remove from the oven, top with some chopped basil or oregano if desired.