Out of ALL the date night meals, this has become my favorite, and one that my boyfriend requests on a weekly basis. It’s simple, inexpensive, and has never failed to be the ideal date night dish (full disclosure: I would 100% eat the entire thing on my own, so no shame if you’re making this for 1). Gnocchi is a dish I luuuurv to order at restaurants, but it always seemed so fancy and easily-ruined by attempting to use the store-bought gnocchi pillows. Plus, I heard disaster stores about using Cauliflower Gnocchi, and I didn’t want to ruin my love affair with those delicious little dudes.
To start, I figured creating an “out of this world” tomato sauce would make the whole experience complete, and there’s something about melty cheese that makes my heart (and tummy) so happy. The sauce will make you feel like a real chef: I used all fresh herbs to create an accented infused-oil. Using dry herbs can be harsh and sometimes overpowering, and so the fresh herbs help add a simple and effective oil base for the sauce. Aside from making the sauce, this is simple! I hunted around to find tips and tricks on what works best, and what others have used to make their Gnocchi dishes unique, yet mouth-watering. This will impress your guests and even makes for the perfect solo meal!
P R E P
There’s a good amount of downtime while the tomato sauce is cooking, and so this is typically where I’d suggest cracking up a decent Zin or Cab Sauv (message me if you want some recommendations). The first part of this creation is getting the herbs to cook down to create a perfect set-up for the tomatoes, onions and garlic. First things first: cut/chop/set out all your ingredients before you begin.
What you’ll need
- 1 large saute pan. Make sure it has high sides so that it’ll fit everything.
- 1 large saucepan.
- 1/4 cup of olive oil.
- 4 stems of fresh Parsley.
- 4 stems of fresh Oregano. I didn’t have any fresh at the store for picture purposes, so I ended up adding a pinch of dry oregano. I’d highly recommend doing fresh!
- 2-3 stems of fresh Rosemary.
- 2 stems of fresh Basil. Keep a few extra leaves, you’ll want this for the garnish!
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced.
- 4 gloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped.
- 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes. You will need to “hand crush” these so that you don’t have clumps of tomatoes in the sauce.
- Salt and Pepper.
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes.
- 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream.
- 1 16 oz package of Potato Gnocchi. I used the dry Gnocchi from Trader Joe’s!
- 8 oz of mini mozzarella balls. Cut in half; I bought mine from TJ’s.
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Grated is a must!
- Garnishes: Basil!
- Garlic Bread was a MAJOR plus–I’d highly recommend.
- Wine…as always.
Total Prep Time: 5-10 minutes.
Total Cooking Time: 1 hour.
Serving Size: 2 or even 1…We were very full with two servings, but this included garlic bread!
- Using your large saute pan, heat olive oil at medium heat.
- Add fresh parsley, oregano, rosemary and basil to the pan and stir to combine. Keep the heat at medium and cook for about 5 minutes until the herbs become lightly browned/crispy. Make sure to keep an eye on this so that they don’t burn.
- Remove and discard the herbs (make sure all of the herbs are out), and add in chopped onion and garlic.
- Lower heat to medium-low (you don’t want the onions to get brown too quickly), and cook for about 5 minutes.
- While the onions are cooking, start crushing the tomatoes with your hand. I poured the tomatoes into a separate bowl to make it easier.
- Once the onions are cooked (they should be soft, again only about 5-8 minutes), add in the tomatoes (including the sauce) and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Caution: I tend to WAY overdo the red pepper flakes. I love a good kick, but be careful not to overdo it.
- Stir to combine, and turn stove to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Stir occasionally!
- About 10 minutes before the sauce is done, take out the sauce pan and bring to a boil for the Gnocchi. These will cook very quickly, so be prepared!
- Once the water comes to a boil, sprinkle with salt, and add in package of Gnocchi. This should take about 5 minutes to cook, and you’ll know it’s done when all the little dudes float to the top.
- Once the sauce is done simmering, remove from heat, and add in the heavy cream.
- Once the Gnocchi is cooked, use a strainer and drain. Add the Gnocchi to the saute pan.
- Mix very gently to combine, the sauce doesn’t need to completely cover the Gnocchi.
- Place the halved mozzarella cubes on top, and sprinkle with the Parmesan.
- Drizzle with a little olive oil…yum.
- Place your oven on broil, and cook in the oven for 10 minutes. The cheese should be bubbly and slightly brown.
- Sprinkle with basil leaves and serve with Garlic Bread and/or your favorite red wine!
POST COOKING NOTES
- I know that when you see a long list of ingredients there’s some hesitation, but there’s something necessary about having fresh herbs that truly made this entire experience perfect. Plus it’s fun to feel fancy sometimes, and the smells from those herbs will make it all worth it. You can obviously go the lazy route and just buy marinara or pomodoro sauce, but go outside your comfort zone!
- I’ve made this several times and have never had leftovers, BUT if you’re cooking solo and only want to eat half, then you can definitely save this in an airtight container and when you reheat add a sprinkle of Parmesan for extra cheesy-goodness.