It’s that time of year! Cold, rainy, and windy here in Indiana. We’re expecting snow in a few days – Baked Gnocchi with Bacon, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella is the perfect yummy bite. You’ll be all warm and cozy in no time, guaranteed. And it’s a very quick dish – 35-40 minutes.
Serve with a green salad and a warm loaf of crusty Italian bread. Heavenly!
I just love to eat gnocchi. The first time I ate them was in eastern Pennsylvania just outside Philadelphia in the 1980’s. The Philly area is populated with lots of Italian Americans, and you can find very good Italian restaurants everywhere. The corporation I worked for at the time had their eastern headquarters there. Every time I attended a meeting or training session, I had to have gnocchi. Pillowy soft warm little dumplings served in a divine tomato sauce – just wonderful. I don’t know if the gnocchi were homemade or not, but they sure tasted like they were. So light, and delicious with the satisfying mouth feel of a lovely petite dumpling. Who could resist? Not me.
Gnocchi was not available in Indianapolis in restaurants or groceries when I returned home. But over the next few years, packaged ones began to pop up at places like World Market, where they sell a nice variety of international foods. Now, you can find premade gnocchi anywhere. The potato gnocchi I used here I found at Trader Joe’s. And they were perfect for my casserole. Probably not as light as homemade, but not gummy either like other brands I’ve tried.
Homemade gnocchi is on my Foodie Bucket List. Anne Burrell has a nice recipe on Food Network from her series Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. Here’s a link to her instructional video about how and why of basic potato gnocchi. Obviously, this dish is a quick dish with premade gnocchi. But I wouldn’t discourage anyone from making their own. It will take a little longer though. Anne Burrell suggests making a double batch, cooking half and freezing the rest for another use. Brilliant!
What do I love about this recipe?
I found Baked Gnocchi at Simply Delicious Food through Pinterest. When I decided to bring my little dumplings to life, it was late in the evening. But I had all the ingredients in my larder – potato gnocchi from TJ’s, canned tomatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes, bacon, and everything else including crusty bread and salad. Lucky me! I like the addition of halved fresh cherry tomatoes in the sauce. They lend fresh texture and just look pretty in the finished dish. And a little fresh or dried basil in the sauce as it’s cooking wouldn’t be a bad idea – I adore basil in any tomato dish, but it’s not essential. Bacon, how interesting? It adds a hint of deep smoky flavor. I would not have thought of that.
Let’s whip up a warm and tasty casserole, shall we? You will be well loved.
First on the list is to heat your oven to 400F degrees. Fill a 4-5 quart pot 2/3 full of water. Bring to a full boil. This will take a while as you know. Don’t watch it – make the delicious tomato-based sauce for the casserole in the meantime. It can sit at the ready after cooking is finished to receive your lovely gnocchi when they’re done.
Heat a 12″ nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and the chopped bacon and cook until the bacon browns and releases most of its fat. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Pour off most of the remaining liquefied bacon fat, and return the skillet to the stovetop. Add the minced garlic, paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes – cook for 30 seconds – don’t let the garlic brown or burn – this all goes very quickly. Add the canned and fresh tomatoes and the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Throw in the crispy bacon and dried basil (if using). Stir and remove from heat.
Add heavy cream or yogurt. Sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Check seasoning. Set aside off the heat while you boil your gnocchi.
As they’re cooking, the gnocchi will float to the top. That’s when they’re finished. Using a slotted spoon, gently lift your gnocchi out of the boiling water and directly into the skillet with your sauce.
Gently mix everything and pour into a 3-quart ovenproof baking dish that’s been sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle the top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Pop the casserole into the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown like this:
Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Let your casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.
And there you have it! Sprinkle with extra grated Parm and/or fresh chopped parsley and serve! Theoretically, you’ll end up with 2-3 plentiful servings. Richard and I ate half the first night for dinner and reheated the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Mamma Mia! This is sooooo delicious!
- 1 pound potato gnocchi
- 4-6 strips bacon, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 - 150z can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 12-16 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream or yogurt
- Salt & Pepper
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
- While you're waiting for the water to boil for the gnocchi, make the sauce. Fry bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Pour off the bacon grease. Return the skillet to the heat. Add garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and paprika. Stir and cook for 30 seconds. Be sure not to let the garlic burn.
- Add all tomatoes and sugar. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove pan from the heat. Add heavy cream or yogurt, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with 1/4 - 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until combined.
- Cook the gnocchi according to package directions.
- When they're done, use a slotted spoon to lift dumplings from the water and directly into the skillet with your sauce. Mix it all together. transfer to an ovenproof casserole lightly sprayed with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on top. Place in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is nicely browned.
- Remove casserole from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Serve with a warm crusty loaf of bread and a green salad. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley &/or grated Parmesan cheese. You could use fresh, sliced mozzarella in place of shredded, if desired.