Some time ago, my teenager asked me if I'd make gnocchi from scratch. Oh sure, I could make gnocchi, but do I want to? Some days making everything from scratch can be a little daunting, and so when I saw packages of potato gnocchi in a cute market in Langley, BC, I snapped them up. At $3 for a pound they seemed like a steal rather than spending my time hand shaping gnocchi in my kitchen.
Once home, I wasn't sure what to make with them so I put together a meat sauce to spoon over top. There were bits of this or that hanging around in the fridge, and the result was pure comfort food on a cold and rainy spring evening. Gnocchi tend to be very starchy so the meat sauce stuck in every nook and cranny, coating it with it's tasty goodness. We grated some fresh parmesan over top and dug in. One pound of gnocchi would serve 2-3 people, so you can adjust amounts accordingly. It's quite filling so you don't really need to have a large portion. Serve with a delicious salad and some garlic bread.
one 500 g package of gnocchi
2 mild Italian sausages, pushed out of their casings
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
one 700 g bottles of passata or a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (you may need a little more; I added about another 1/2 of another jar of passata)
1 tsp oregano
fresh cracked pepper and salt, to taste
pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
freshly grated parmesan cheese
Put a large pot of water on the stove top and turn it to a medium high heat to get it boiling.
In a large, deep frypan, saute the sausage meat over medium heat in a little olive oil, breaking it up and stirring until no longer pink and cooked. Push to the edge of the pan and drain off all but a few tablespoons of the fat, then stir in the onion. Cook the onion and red pepper until softened, turning down the heat if the bits on the bottom of the pan appear to be getting too browned. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring until fragrant, and then the mushrooms. You don't need to cook them long-just enough to soften them up a bit.
Pour in the bottle of passata and turn the heat down. To get all of the passata out of the jar, add a little water, put the lid back on, and give it a shake. Pour the whole works into the pan. Stir and heat through. The passata is fairly thick so you don't need to add any tomato paste. Stir in the oregano, basil, pepper flakes, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar and honey. Let the sauce bubble away while you work on the gnocchi.
When the water in the large pot you had going boils, dump in the gnocchi and let them cook until they float to the top. When they do, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and divide among some bowls. Spoon the Italian sausage sauce over top and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.