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It’s fall. It’s officially my favorite time of year. Not just because I’m a basic white girl, but because I love any excuse to start indulging in comfort foods again.
When I think of comfort foods, I’ve got to admit that pasta comes first to mind. Cajun fettuccine is one of my favorites, but *baked* pasta is also an absolute favorite of mine.
Pasta was the first dish I ever learned to cook on my own. Honestly. I was in the service industry for the last part of my high school career, all through college, and post-college years. Being in that industry typically lends you the opportunity to dine at your colleagues’ establishments, or just eat for free (or half off) wherever you’re working at the time.
That being said, pasta was my first culinary friend because it seemed so approachable, and it was my favorite dinner throughout my entire childhood. Great beef, great sauce, and perfectly cooked noodles don’t need any additional help.
Rao’s Homemade sauces reached out to me about a year ago, asking if they could ship me some of their products so I could try them at home. Of course I accepted, because I’m clearly addicted to anything Italian-related. But once I tried their products, I was honestly blown away with the integrity of their marinara sauce in particular.
It’s so delicious. I mean, like, dish-altering-deliciousness. If you’re trying to impress someone for a first time cooking at home, or maybe your parents are in town for the weekend, this is absolutely the sauce I would grab for that occasion.
I’ve been focusing upon responsibly sourced products lately, and Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce fits the bill. It’s labeling is clear and simple; the ingredients are all natural; there is no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners; and every batch is created in small batch fashion. It’s honestly like the ideal pasta sauce for a flavor journal.
I always aim to produce restaurant quality recipes for a flavor journal, so it helps to know that Rao’s Homemade sauces were created for customers at Rao’s acclaimed restaurant in East Harlem, New York. They sauce was so popular there, they had to make batches for people to take home. That’s seriously my kind of pasta sauce.
Mark and I have always greatly looked forward to pasta night, and this sauce makes us particularly excited. I mixed it with some crunchy, local, thick-cut bacon, some local hot sausage, fresh herbs from my balcony garden, and some incredible gnocchi that I found at Wal-Mart (along with the Rao’s Marinara sauce.)
Guys. Seriously. Do you need to be comforted this weekend? PLEASE make this for dinner ASAP. It’s rich, it’s absolutely loaded with flavor, the quality is unparalleled, and your’e going to love it.
bacon + sausage + marinara baked gnocchi
- 1 cup chopped bacon (five thick cut strips)
- 8 ounces hot Italian sausage best quality
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 24 oz. jar Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 4 cups gnocchi
- 3 leaves fresh basil finely chopped
- small handful fresh oregano leaves finely chopped
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 1 1/2 cups fresh mozzarella, grated
- Set a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the chopped bacon until crisp and dark brown, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate covered by a paper towel to absorb excess liquids.
- Discard additional liquids from the pan, and return the pan to the heat. Cook sausage, breaking it apart as it cooks. 5-7 minutes until cooked through. Transfer sausage to the same plate as the bacon.
- Keep any minimal liquids and browned bits in the saute pan. Add olive oil, turn to coat the pan. Add onion and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring as it cooks to mix in the browned pieces at the bottom of the pan. Once the onion is softened and very fragrant, add garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes until also softened and very fragrant.
- Pour in Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce, and stir to mix into the onion and garlic. Add the bacon and sausage into the sauce, along with sugar and crushed red pepper. Allow to simmer as you boil the gnocchi.
- Boil gnocchi as directed; only 2-3 minutes. Drain, and immediately add to the pan with the sauce. Also, turn on the oven to 375.
- Remove the pan from the heat, add in freshly chopped herbs and parmesan. Stir to combine.
- Spoon half of the gnocchi and sauce into a baking dish, then top with ample shredded mozzarella. Spoon the additional half of the gnocchi and red sauce on top of the mozzarella, and top with remaining cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Turn the oven to broil for the remaining five minutes, if you want to achieve the bubbly, crunchy, cheesy top layer.
- Serve hot, and enjoy!
Tried this recipe?
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Comments & Reviews
What a delicious recipe! my family loves baked pasta but i havent tried one with the gnocchi. delicious!