Last updated on March 12th, 2021
Let me be the man who introduced you to Baked Gnocchi Passata! I’m talking about tender gnocchi, pure tomato puree (a/k/a “passata”), baby spinach leaves, fragrant herbs, sliced black olives, and a lid of three cheeses. It’s the kind of February comfort food that says “Be My Valentine.” Here’s the video and printable recipe:
Baked Gnocchi Passata: Video, notes, and printable recipe
To watch me make this scrumptious sonnet, just click on the “play” arrow above. Then grab your skillet and go to town!
A gnocchi note. Gnocchi is an ancient Italian pasta made from potatoes and flour. If you’re feeling energetic, you can make the little “lumps” or “dumplings” from scratch. Otherwise, select good-quality gnocchi from the grocery store or Italian market. I found gluten-free gnocchi at my lovely little farm store. Unlike other wheat-less pastas I’ve tried, Alessi’s gluten-free gnocchi is truly wonderful!
Don’t pass off the passada! As I mentioned in the video, passata is raw tomato puree that has been strained of seeds and skin. It’s luxuriously thick — much thicker, in fact, than canned tomato puree. It’s naturally fragrant, too. And it’s molto delizioso. You can find Italian passata in most American supermarkets. It is sold in cartons that are labeled, rather unimaginatively, as “Strained Tomatoes.” I paid $3.99 for the 750 gram carton pictured above.
I hope you’ll give this Baked Gnocchi Passata a try some day. It isn’t hard to make, and you can make it several hours ahead of time and then bake it off at your leisure. For dessert, you could serve my Chocolate Cabernet Cake.
The Chocolate Cabernet Cake in question. Click here for the step-by-step recipe.
Love, Nonna Kevin
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Here’s the printable:
Baked Gnocchi Passata
- 24 ounces gnocchi (store-bought or homemade)
- A generous teaspoon of olive oil
- 750 grams passata (raw, strained tomatoes; available in most supermarkets)
- 3 teaspoons garlic puree
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 5 shakes crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- Kosher salt and grinds of black pepper -- a generous pinch of each, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon onion powder (or more, to taste)
- A splash of heavy cream (about 1/4 cup)
- Baby spinach leaves -- 2 big handfuls
- Sliced black olives -- 2 handfuls
For the three-cheese topping:
- A generous dusting of freshly-grated Parmesan
- Dollops of ricotta (about 1 cup)
- 4 ounces sliced mozzarella
- Center the oven rack; preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook just until the gnocchi floats to the surface -- 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Tip the olive oil into an oven-proof skillet set over medium heat. Stir in the passata, garlic, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and onion powder. When the sauce begins to bubble, stir in the heavy cream. Reduce the heat to "low," and let the sauce simmer until slightly reduced -- 3-5 minutes.
- Add the spinach to the sauce, and stir until the leaves wilt -- 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then stir in the sliced olives and the gnocchi. Use a spatula to break up any gnocchi that have stuck together. Off heat, taste carefully for seasonings. You might like to add more salt, pepper, or red pepper flakes.
- Top the sauce with the three cheeses, starting with the Parmesan and finishing with the mozzarella.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese melts -- 15 to 20 minutes. Then, if desired, place the skillet about 6 inches beneath the broiler until the cheese turns spotty brown -- 45 seconds to 1 minute. Serve hot, along with a side salad and a bottle of good Cabernet!