Italian Sausage Gnocchi with Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes is an easy 25 minute dinner, loaded with fresh garden veggies and amazing Italian flavor! It all comes together in a skillet with bell peppers, pine nuts and crumbled goat cheese for a delicious creamy coating!
Why We Love It!
- Heavy on the Veggies! This recipe is perfect for late summer when those garden veggies are at their peak! Really it's good all year. This is a serious portion of vegetables, the gnocchi and sausage coming in second and third place!
- A Favorite "Use Up" Dinner! We are always grilling sausages or brats, so I often grill a couple extra for this easy skillet dinner the following night. Like pasta, gnocchi is a blank slate, lending itself well to add-ins and alterations. The bell pepper in this recipe could be substituted with mushrooms, zucchini or another favorite veggie. It's the perfect 25 minute dinner for busy weeknights!
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Ingredients & Substitutions
- Gnocchi - Gnocchi is an Italian pasta-like dumpling, made from potatoes, flour and eggs. They boil up in just 3 minutes and turn into pillow-y, melt-in-your-mouth delicious little morsels! I used a package of potato gnocchi found in the dry pasta aisle. What an amazing product! Inexpensive, pantry stable, and easily transforms into an amazing simple dinner!
- Salt and Pepper - I like to pre-measure the salt and pepper for this recipe into a small bowl and add it as I go. For the best flavor, it's better to individually season each element of the dish, rather than just add a bunch of salt at the end. Pre-measuring will help you get the amount right, while really bringing out the flavor in the bell pepper, the tomatoes, the gnocchi and the greens.
- Red Bell Pepper - You could also use an orange or yellow pepper or 3 to 5 mini sweet bell peppers.
- Italian Sausage Links - This is the perfect recipe for leftover Italian sausage links or bratwurst. Simply slice them up and caramelize the slices in the skillet along with the bell pepper. If you don't have leftovers, you can start this dish by simmering 2 sausage links in water and then either grilling them or searing them in a skillet. You can even use the same cast iron skillet you plan to use to make this dish! Just remove the cooked sausages to slice and then saute them with the bell pepper in the grease left in the pan.
- Cherry Tomato - By late summer, I'm all about the garden tomato use-up recipes! We're throwing cherry tomatoes in everything! The tomatoes don't need very long to cook. You want them to keep their shape and not turn to mush, bursting when you take a bite, instead of in the pan!
- Pine Nuts - Pine nuts are an expensive little ingredient, but a little goes a long way. Just 2 Tablespoons add great flavor to this dish, giving it an Italian flare and something extra special. If you don't have them, you can just leave them out.
- Garlic - Use fresh garlic cloves if you can, they really are the best! Otherwise a teaspoon or so of chopped garlic in a jar or garlic powder will work.
- Spinach or Arugula - A good healthy handful of any garden greens will work here! You can use any combination of spinach, arugula, or kale. They wilt right in for extra nutrition and a pop of color.
- Fresh Basil - A few leaves of fresh basil are beautiful and delicious as a garnish! Other Italian herbs would be fine too such as oregano, thyme, or chopped parsley.
- Goat Cheese - I know some people aren't a fan of goat cheese, but in this recipe, it's truly delicious! The amazing part is, those little crumbles melt on contact, coating each bite in creamy gnocchi bliss! I use about half of a 4oz log of goat cheese and crumble it with a fork. Feta or shaved Parmesan could also be subbed.
Aside from pre-boiling the gnocchi, this entire dish is made layer by layer in a cast iron skillet. The order of adding ingredients is based on how long each takes to cook. Take this into consideration if you want to substitute a vegetable!
Step 1 - Boil your gnocchi in salted water, about 3 minutes. Drain and reserve.
Step 2 - Meanwhile, prepare all your ingredients. Slice your bell pepper and cooked sausage. Mince your garlic and roughly chop your greens. Pre-measure your salt and pepper so you can add a pinch to each ingredient as you cook them.
Step 3 - In a cast iron skillet or any large pan, saute your bell pepper on one half and your sausage on the other, about 5 minutes until beginning to caramelize.
Step 4 - Move the peppers and sausage to the side of the pan and add your pine nuts and whole cherry tomatoes to the open spot. Cook them about 2 minutes, not too much so that they are not bursting or turning to mush.
Step 5 - Add the garlic, drained gnocchi and chopped greens. Your gnocchi is cooked through at this point, but now you are slightly pan frying the gnocchi, giving it a little caramelized brown color. Stir and cook the entire mixture about 2 more minutes so that the flavors combine.
Step 6 - Garnish the skillet with crumbled goat cheese and fresh basil leaves. You can leave them whole or chop them if they are large. As it is served, the goat cheese melts and coats the creamy gnocchi like a sauce. Delicious!
What to Serve with Gnocchi
This pan fried gnocchi with vegetables and Italian sausage cooks up so fast and is really a complete meal in itself! Heavy on the veggies and protein, with 1 package of gnocchi this feeds about 3 to 4 people. To double the recipe, you would really need a large pot!
Yes, this Italian sausage and gnocchi recipe is delicious reheated for lunch the next day! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Simply microwave it or warm in a skillet to reheat.
Yes! You could start this recipe by sautéing a half pound or so of bulk ground Italian sausage instead of the pre-cooked links. When it is close to being fully cooked, move it to one side of the skillet and saute the bell pepper alongside. When the sausage is fully browned, then continue with the rest of the recipe by adding the pine nuts and cherry tomatoes.
Yes! Simply omit the Italian sausage and this dish is vegetarian. If you do want to make it vegetarian, you may want to bump up the veggie and protein in other ways. You could saute an additional vegetable along with the red bell pepper such as chopped mushrooms or zucchini. You could also add a half can of white beans in with the gnocchi for added protein. The outline of this recipe can be used to create lots of variation with different vegetables!
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Italian Sausage Gnocchi with Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes
- 16 ounces package potato gnocchi
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 grinds fresh black pepper
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- 2 links fully cooked Italian sausage (leftovers sausage or brats work great!)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup spinach or arugula roughly chopped
- 2 ounces goat cheese crumbled
- 2 Tablespoons fresh basil to garnish
- Cook gnocchi in salted boiling water about 3 minutes (follow package instructions) drain and reserve.
- Meanwhile, prepare all ingredients. Chop the bell pepper in thin slices, then cut the slices in half. Mince the garlic, cut the cooked sausages into slices, and roughly chop your greens. Pre-measure your salt and pepper so you can add a pinch along the way, each time you add a new ingredient.
- In a cast iron skillet (or any large skillet) over medium heat, add oil and saute the peppers on one half and the fully cooked sliced sausage links on the other. Cook about 5 minutes until beginning to brown and caramelize, stirring occasionally with tongs or a wooden spoon. Season the peppers with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Move the peppers and sausage to the side of the pan and add the whole cherry tomatoes and pine nuts to the open spot. Cook and stir about 2 minutes, until the tomatoes are just slightly cooked, but not so long that they are turning to mush. Add a pinch more salt and pepper.
- Add the drained gnocchi, garlic and spinach or arugula. Toss everything together and continue sautéing so the gnocchi pan fry and caramelize a bit, about 2 minutes more. Add the remaining salt and pepper.
- Top with basil and crumbled goat cheese, it will melt slightly with the heat of the skillet. Serve and enjoy!
- Leftover cooked Italian sausage or brats are great for this recipe. If you don't have leftovers, you can simply start by cooking them separately. Simmer in water and then either grill them or saute in a skillet until browned. You can use the same cast iron skillet that you will make the entire dish in. Let cool and slice.
- Goat cheese can be substituted with crumbled feta or shaved Parmesan cheese, or left out.