The Best (and Easiest!) Cheesy Baked Gnocchi.
I’ve made a few baked gnocchi recipes before, but this one is easily our new favorite. If you have a cast iron pan, or a pan that can safely transfer to the oven, this recipe is going to be a dream.
I recently found a package of miniature gnocchi at the store, and had. to. have. it. Now may be a good time to discuss my slight obsession with tiny things. Usually it’s tiny gifts, or maybe tiny measuring cups. But tiny gnocchi? Umm, where has this been my whole life?
Don’t worry, if you have regular-sized gnocchi, this will still be just fine. Gnocchi only needs to boil for a minute or two anyway, so it makes sense to just bake it straight in with the marinara sauce. The hot sauce soaks into the gnocchi, cooking them as it surrounds each of them.
What Cheese should I use for this Gnocchi Bake?
Using fresh mozzarella is a great choice; the light flavor and incredibly melty texture is just unparalleled, in my opinion. Tuck little bits of fresh mozzarella all throughout the gnocchi and marinara sauce before putting it in the oven, and let it melt and bubble under the direct heat from the stove. Ugh, it’s one of my favorite things.
Sprinkling this cheesy baked gnocchi with shredded cheese creates a final blanket of cheesy, gooey goodness on top. If you’re going for the ultimate cheese pull, this step is crucial. I like to use an Italian cheese blend for this final step, because it adds the perfect amount of flavor to any pasta with tomato sauce. You could also use shredded mozzarella, parmesan, or even cheddar if you prefer!
Be sure to tag me on Instagram when you make this! I live for cheese pulls. No, really, I do. I can’t wait to see. 🙂
Wine Pairings for Cheesy Baked Gnocchi
:: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. (Italy) >> One of my favorite Italian wines! High acidity and high tannins make this wine a really good pair for big, rich, meaty foods. Montepulciano is the grape here, and Abruzzo is the region in east-central Italy. You can find bottles starting around $12 or so, which is a great place to start if you haven’t tried it before!
:: Nebbiolo. (Italy) >> Nebbiolo is a lesser known grape hailing from the Piedmont region of Italy (northern Italy), but it’s so delicious, and has some serious tannin to it. When we talk about tannin, we’re talking about the bitterness that comes through when you taste wine. It’s the component of some (primarily red) wines that makes your mouth feel super dry after drinking. The richness in this baked marinara sauce goes well with high tannins, because it creates a sense of balance. Super rich food that coats your mouth, followed by tannic wine that dries your mouth out = balance. It’s awesome!
:: Brunello. (Italy) >> I wanted to put Sangiovese here, but this is a step up from that. Brunello is made with 100% Sangiovese grapes, and comes from Montalcino, which is in Tuscany. It’s a pricey wine, but it’s sooo delicious. With a high acidity, it’s so good with big meats, tomato-based dishes, and this cheesy, rich, tomato gnocchi bake!
Sausage & Bacon Cheesy Baked Gnocchi
- 3 slices thick cut bacon cut into 1/2" pieces
- 8 ounces Italian sausage
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes quartered
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar
- salt + pepper
- 16 ounces miniature gnocchi
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cut into small pieces
- 8 ounces shredded Italian cheese blend
- fresh parsley for garnish
- Set a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Add chopped bacon, and cook until almost dark brown and crispy, about 7-8 minutes.
- Add quartered cherry tomatoes, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add sausage, cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Add minced garlic, mix into the other ingredients until fragrant, cooking a total of 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in marinara sauce and add granulated sugar, and mix into other ingredients until thoroughly combined. Turn the oven to 350 F. Add uncooked gnocchi, and thoroughly mix into the sauce. Allow the gnocchi to simmer in the sauce as the oven comes up to temperature.
- Place the pieces of fresh mozzarella across the top of the gnocchi and sauce, evenly distributing them. Bake the gnocchi and sauce for 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove the pan from the oven, and sprinkle the shredded Italian cheese across the surface of the gnocchi and sauce. Turn the oven to high broil, and broil for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is melted and browned.
- Remove from the oven, and garnish with finely chopped parsley. Carefully serve hot!