Wait…I just peaked.
I might as well quit blogging now, because this is as delicious as food can possibly get. My career is oveerrrrrrr 😭😭😭. But for real…this baked gnocchi is my love language. Have you ever played the game Desert Island where you go around and say the three things you would bring if you were stranded on an island somewhere like ma’ man Tom Hanks and his friend Wilson? (Slightly related side note: Seth and I dressed up as Tom Hanks and Wilson a few years ago for Halloween. I was a giant paper mache volleyball, he was a sketchy looking island dude, and it was awesome. We won the costume contest…obvi.)
Anyway, back to the point. Desert Island. Let’s play! If I was stranded on a desert island RIGHT now, I would bring:
- A hot skillet of this baked gnocchi
- A cooler full of extra baked gnocchi
- A refrigerator full of ingredients to make more baked gnocchi
I win desert island, yo.
Why have I not been eating gnocchi every single day of my entire life? It is a sin that I have only made it a handful of times at home. If you’ve never had gnocchi before, you can buy it from the Italian section of your grocery store, and they are perfectly dense, pillowy, pasta/dumpling hybrid bites of happiness. SO GOOD.
And then there’s the sauce…
Several months ago, I decided I wanted to experiment with making a tomato sauce using only fresh vegetables – no canned tomatoes. I tried it out, and it was SUPER yummy but way too thin for a pasta sauce. I ended up being inspired to make this fantastic Roasted Tomato Soup using the same techniques, which is so dang good, but I was still wanting to perfect the thicker sauce version as well.
Since then, I’ve been trying every now and then to find ways to thicken the sauce while still trying to only use fresh ingredients, i.e. tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs.
Well, ladies and gentlemen. The day has come. The trick is so simple that you will probably think I’m stupid for not thinking of it sooner. But don’t! Just love me for who I am.
The trick: instead of adding the roasted tomatoes as is to the food processor/blender, you take a pair of tongs and squeeze the juice out of each one before pureeing. This leaves you with a MUCH thicker sauce. In fact, after it simmers in your pan for about 15 minutes, it verges on being too thick, and you potentially will need to add a bit of water to thin it out (depending on your preference).
My favorite, favorite, favorite thing about cooking is watching the pile of ingredients on your kitchen counter turn into a whole new and complete dish. Does that make sense?? Like, when I started this sauce, all I had was a bag of tomatoes, an onion, and a few cloves of garlic. An hour later, I have a perfectly delicious sauce that came from that pile of veggies. Nah mean??? It’s so cool. Be a food nerd with me, puh-LEASE.
Anyway, this dish is the epitome of that amazing transformation because you start with so few and so simple of ingredients and end with such a flavorful, complex sauce. The sauce is the “hardest” (not hard) part of this dish; the rest is just boiling some gnocchi and stirring in some Parmesan cheese. I’ll break down the steps for ya:
- Roast your tomatoes until they are blistery and amazing.
- Squeeze the juice out of them, and add the tomato meat to your food processor or blender
- Saute some onion and garlic
- Add your tomato puree to the veggies
- Throw some dried herbs in there and say “BAM!” just like Emeril, because we cool like dat.
- Let this simmer away for about 15 minutes while youuu…
- Boil your gnocchi! This takes all of 3 or so minutes – just boil ’em till they float!
- Drain the gnocchi, add them to your sauce once your sauce is done simmering, stir in some Parmesan cheese, top with more Parmesan cheese, and broil for several minutes until your cheese is nice and bubbly and slightly golden.
And then all that’s left to do is drool all over your table as you devour the most delicious skillet of gnocchi that your stomach has ever encountered.
The end. Goodbye forever…I can no longer post since I have achieved the peak of food awesomeness.
Juussttt kidding, I’ll see ya on Friday with some hot chocolate that will knock your Christmas socks off.
- 3 pounds roma tomatoes, sliced in half
- ½ onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- ¼ teaspoon Italian Seasoning (usually a combo of dried thyme, dried parsley, dried oregano, and dried basil)
- 1 pound gnocchi (comes in a vacuum sealed package - sold in the Italian section of your grocery store)
- ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- Fresh basil (optional topping)
- Preheat your oven to 475 degrees
- On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, place your tomatoes cut side down and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper
- Roast for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are blistered
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the tomatoes sit for a few minutes while you prep your onions and garlic
- Using tongs, pick up each tomato half, squeeze the excess juice out of it, and add it to a food processor or blender
- Puree your tomatoes thoroughly and set aside
- Saute your onion and garlic in a large, oven safe skillet (I used cast iron) with some olive oil, salt, and pepper until the veggies have softened
- Add your tomato puree, bring to a simmer, and simmer for about 15 minutes. If your sauce reduces and becomes too thick, add a bit of water to thin it back out (this will depend on preference)
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of SALTED (it should taste like the ocean) water to a boil
- When boiling, add your gnocchi and cook according to package instructions. They are done cooking when they float to the surface of the water
- Drain your gnocchi using a colander and add the gnocchi to your tomato sauce
- Turn your oven to broil
- Stir ¼ cup of your Parmesan cheese into the gnocchi mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed
- Top your gnocchi with the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese and place the skillet in the oven (on broil) for several minutes, until the cheese is very bubbly and slightly golden brown
- Top with fresh sliced basil (optional)
Nutrition info is for 1 cup servings of gnocchi.
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries!
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