I wanted to make a quick yet tasty casserole for when the boys got home after work, and after looking through my cupboards and freezer, I decided to make a meatball and gnocchi bake. I’d stocked up on shelf-stable gnocchi when I’d gone to the city because our small-town grocery store doesn’t carry it, and I can only eat the chicken and gnocchi soup so many times in a month, so I wanted to use them in a different way. This recipe was the ticket.
I used frozen Italian-style meatballs in this recipe, and I know it would be absolutely fabulous with homemade meatballs too. I just didn’t have the time to make homemade meatballs tonight, not that they take all that long to make, but I basically needed a dump-and-go casserole for a quick dinner. Since the meatballs I used were fully cooked, I simply browned them in the skillet, but if you’re making homemade meatballs, make sure you cook them in the skillet until they’re fully cooked through to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (about 6 minutes or so). You can saute the vegetables at the same time the gnocchi is boiling, and that really is the longest part of this recipe. From the time the gnocchi drops in the boiling water to the time you’re putting the casserole in the oven, prep time is about 10 to 15 minutes. Baking time is 30 minutes, and then you’ve got a delicious meal on the table in less than an hour. Win-win in our house 🙂
Meatball and Gnocchi Casserole
1 16-ounce package of gnocchi
1 1/2 cup pasta sauce
1 package (26 count) Italian-style fully cooked meatballs (or use your favorite homemade meatball recipe)
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium green pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion (1 small onion)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the pasta sauce, and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat about 2 teaspoons of the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat, about 2 to 3 swirls of the bottle around the skillet. Add the mushrooms, green pepper and sliced onions. Saute for about 7 minutes, or until soft. Add the vegetables to the gnocchi in the bowl.
In the same skillet, add another 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Lightly brown the meatballs on all sides. Drain and add meatballs to the bowl with the gnocchi and vegetables. Gently stir to combine.
Pour the meatball and gnocchi mixture into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Uncover. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top of the casserole, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.