Baked Red Pesto Gnocchi Recipe

Servings: 4
Time: 1hr
Diet: Veg

Red Pesto Gnocchi with Spinach, Peas and Peppers Recipe

Pasta bake with an Italian twist

This comforting baked gnocchi recipe is a great Italian twist on a cheesy pasta bake. It makes a simple and satisfying dinner for any vegetarians, kids, or fussy eaters at home.

Packed with goodness from spinach (such as iron and vitamin A) and peppers (such as vitamin C), this one-pot dish is a winner for a mid-week meal and can be adapted easily with your favourite veg. We’ve made ours with spinach, red peppers, peas, and mushrooms, but feel free to mix the ingredients up with anything you like – maybe green beans, courgette or even roasted aubergine.

To round the dish off, the soft crunch of the panko breadcrumbs adds texture against the soft gnocchi and stringy mozzarella, and its golden colour when baked makes an incredibly appetising supper. Bellissimo!

What is gnocchi?

Gnocchi

Many countries have their own type of dumplings, and gnocchi (pronounced with a silent ‘g’) is Italy’s take on this versatile ingredient. They vary between Italian regions and households, but they are traditionally made from flour and mashed potatoes. They are rolled, cut into bite-size pieces, and ridged on one side, then cooked in water into light and fluffy pillows. Gnocchi cooks in a only a few minutes – they will float to the top when they’re ready.  

One reason why gnocchi is so popular in Italy and differs across its regions is because it’s such a flexible ingredient to work with. There is no particular shape or size that they need to be, they’re easy to adapt in many recipes, and they cook in minutes. Gnocchi can be combined with various vegetables, sauces, cheeses and toppings that make the combinations endless. 

Other types of gnocchi involve semolina flour (made from durum wheat), milk and cheese, which you’ll typically find in the nation’s capital, or “strozzapreti”, which is Florence’s take on gnocchi using a classic flavour of spinach and ricotta cheese.

Fun fact: Gnocchi comes in different sizes. The smallest is called “gnocchetti”, commonly known as mini gnocchi.

Storing gnocchi

Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days, so it’s a great recipe to cook ahead for a couple of days. Simply reheat in portions for a speedy lunch!

Boost flavour with authentic Italian ingredients

We’ve used a selection of our authentic Italian products to enhance flavour in this recipe, such as the Monti Red Pesto. Prepared with fresh Italian basil, sunflower oil and topped with dried tomatoes, this red pesto helps with flavour consistency in this dish and its vibrant red colour is great for brightening up the gnocchi.

Monti Red Pesto

 

You could also opt for a traditional green pesto instead such as the Monti Genovese Pesto. Prepared exclusively with 36% Italian basil, the delicate scent of the fresh herb is combined with a hint of pecorino, an excellent Italian cheese. The ingredients in this pesto, such as pine nuts and garlic, blend perfectly for a full-bodied consistency and texture, which goes perfectly with soft gnocchi.

Monti Genovese Pesto

 

Another little jar full of flavour is the Bio Gustiamo Organic Sun-dried Tomatoes. They are seasoned with key Italian spices and preserved in oil, and the tomatoes are grown on a family-run farm and dried traditionally in the Apulian sun. This gives the tomatoes their authentic seasoning, which adds aroma and extra Mediterranean taste to this recipe.

Bio Gustiamo Sun-dried Tomatoes

 

Quick tip: For a vegan alternative, why not try the red or green tofu pesto from Puro? This particular pesto is among the world’s most famous and adaptable Italian sauces as it’s made with PDO basil, which is grown in Liguria. The microclimate on this island adds a unique sweetness and tender texture to this ingredient.

 

Recipe

Ingredients

100g baby leaf spinach

500g gnocchi

100g frozen peas

145g Monti Red Pesto

65g Bio Gustiamo Organic Sun-Dried Tomatoes, roughly chopped

100g brown button mushrooms, sliced

1 red pepper, chopped

125g mozzarella, torn into small chunks

35g panko breadcrumbs

150ml water

1 tbsp Casa Rinaldi Extra Virgin Olive Oil (basil or lemon), plus extra to drizzle the crust

A few fresh basil leaves to garnish

Cooking method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6 and boil the kettle. Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl and cover with boiling water to wilt. Once wilted, drain the spinach through a colander, return to the bowl and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and red peppers (or other vegetables if using) and sweat for a few minutes until soft.

3. To the spinach, add the cooked vegetables, gnocchi, frozen peas, pesto, and water. Season and mix well to combine evenly.

Quick tip: you can do the prep beforehand to save time. Simply follow steps 1-3 in the morning and store the gnocchi mix in an air-tight container in the fridge until dinnertime.

4. Transfer the gnocchi mix to a baking dish and top with sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella and breadcrumbs, and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.

Quick tip: You could use grated mozzarella to make the prep process quicker and cleaner, and try to avoid substitutes like cheddar as it won’t have the same creamy consistency.

5. Place in the oven and bake for 45min until the crust on top is golden and the gnocchi bake is bubbling. Serve with a garnish of fresh basil leaves and a sweet crunchy salad if preferred.

Quick tip: While many well-known Italian meals are served with a side of bread, gnocchi is very filling, so bread might be a little heavy for this dish. You could opt for a fresh, sweet salad with a Casa Rinaldi balsamic vinegar dressing to complement the dish and freshen it up.  

Let us know how you get on with this satisfying dinner recipe, and any unique tips you have to share!