Soooooo, remember last week when I went on and on about how I’m not really very good at creating my own recipes, so I depend on my kazillion cookbooks and the power of the internet? Well, you can chalk THIS recipe up as a true miracle.
I made it up myself, and you know what? IT WAS GOOD! Good enough that it passed the kid test AND the husband test. (Those of you who know my family, know how truly different these two tests really are.) It turned out to be something worth repeating, which is a good thing, because…
it all started with a trip to Costco.
After years of not having a Costco close by, I was thrilled when one finally opened up in our neck of the woods. It opened in November and, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been there a lot. Like, a whole lot. The first few trips were full of silliness. Me, stocking up on things we truly don’t need, just because I COULD. I’ve gotten much better since the new year started and I’m able to go in with a short list and walk out with only the 20 rolls of paper towels and coffee that I went in for. It’s taken discipline, but I’m there. I no longer need a 12 step program to tackle my Costco addiction.
However, as any of you who have ever shopped at a warehouse store know, you can rarely buy just one of anything. Every item is either sized for giants or comes in a pack of four (at least).
Enter the gnocchi.
I’ve always enjoyed gnocchi when I’ve gone out to eat, but I’ve never cooked them myself. But, when I went to Costco a few weeks ago, I came across a 4-pack of DeCecco gnocchi and it was really reasonable. I can’t remember the exact price, but it was remarkably cheap, and there were a couple of people oohing and aahing over it as I walked up. Never wanting to be left out, I bought some.
The gnocchi had been sitting in my pantry for a couple of weeks and I hadn’t touched it. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s just I hadn’t figured out what to do with it yet. I had four packs of it, so I wanted to make sure that whatever I served with it, my kids would eat. If I turned them off the first time they tried gnocchi, getting them to try it three more times to get through my Costco pack would be tough!
I decided to take a chance and bake the gnocchi along with some zucchini and tomatoes. My grandma used to make zucchini and tomatoes like this for me when I was little and I couldn’t get enough of them. She’d make a bowl of them every time we visited for dinner…just for me. Sadly, my grandma passed away before I was old enough to realize that all those years, I should have been following her around the kitchen and writing down everything she did. I’ve tried to replicate her zucchini over the years and what I’ve come up with is pretty darn close. Thankfully, my family enjoys it as much as I did when I was little, so I thought that adding some gnocchi and fresh mozzarella couldn’t be a bad thing.
I started by slicing up about 3 cups of zucchini, dicing an onion, and mincing a couple of cloves of garlic.
In a bit of olive oil, I sautéed up the onion and garlic. Once softened, I added the zucchini and cooked it for a couple of minutes more. Once it started to soften, I added a can of diced Italian tomatoes.
I lowered the heat a bit, put a top on the pan and let the zucchini and tomatoes simmer away while I prepared the gnocchi.
Gnocchi cook pretty quickly, so I brought my pot of water to a boil, salted it and added one of my packs of gnocchi to the water. The gnocchi instantly sank to the bottom, but after a couple of minutes, they started popping up to the top. Once the gnocchi start floating, they are done.
I removed them from the water with a slotted spoon and added them to my, now well cooked (Grandma-style), zucchini and tomatoes.
I added about half of the gnocchi mixture to a baking dish and then topped it with some fresh mozzarella cheese that I’d cut into cubes. After that, I layered the rest of the gnocchi on top and nestled the rest of the cheese in there.
I baked the dish for about 25 minutes, until it was nice and bubbly and the cheese had melted. Then, I turned the broiler on for just a few minutes until there was a nice cheesy crust on top.
I served this with a simple salad and bread and we were ready to go! The girls loved it and are excited for me to make gnocchi again. Score! The other three packs will not go to waste!
BAKED GNOCCHI WITH ZUCCHINI AND TOMATOES
- 3 cups zucchini, sliced
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with Italian spices (basil, garlic, oregano)
- 1 (17 oz.) package prepared gnocchi
- 1 (8 oz.) ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
- Preheat your oven to 350*.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic. Saute until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes, and add sliced zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes more. Add the can of tomatoes and stir to combine. Cover the pan, reduce the heat, and let the mixture simmer while you prepare the gnocchi.
- Prepare the gnocchi according to the package and drain.
- Before adding the gnocchi, add salt and pepper to the zucchini mixture to taste. Carefully stir the gnocchi into the zucchini mixture and let simmer together for one minute. Remove from the heat.
- Place half of the gnocchi mixture into a 2 quart baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Take half of the cubes of cheese and arrange them on top of the gnocchi mixture. Layer the remaining gnocchi on top of the cheese and then arrange the remaining cheese over that layer of gnocchi.
- Bake, uncovered, at 350* for 25 minutes. Turn the broiler of your oven on and broil, watching carefully, for 2-3 minutes until the top begins to brown.