This Italian Gnocchi Meatball Bake is total comfort food – pillowy potato gnocchi, beef and pork meatballs, spinach baked in a tomato sauce. Yum!
I am normally happy to get a snow day or two each year – and too frequently, that doesn’t happen. This year has been a bit different. And even though it’s only the end of February, I’m done with winter. We’ve had some snow, which has been great, but the snow has been followed by ice. Lots and lots of ice. So the kids haven’t been able to play in the snow much and the roads have been a mess. Not so much fun.
But also, with the pandemic continuing and our outings limited, we’re all a bit desperate to get out of the house. It has been too cold and too ice to even venture out in the neighborhood. I miss my afternoon walks with a neighbor. I miss weekend trips to parks. I miss sitting on the back porch with a cup of tea, maybe a glass of boozy iced tea, or a cocktail while the kids play in the backyard.
Today’s recipe was inspired by the weather. This Italian Gnocchi Meatball Bake is my idea of comfort food. Sweet, herby tomato sauce, pillows of potato gnocchi, ribbons of spinach, and hearty meatballs all bake together under some melty mozzarella cheese for a dinner that will wrap you up in a warm hug. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes for Italian Gnocchi Meatball Bake:
- Sauce: I used my homemade marina in this dish but you can use your favorite store bought sauce.
- Timing: This recipe does take a little bit of time, and most of it is hands-on, as you’re cooking multiple parts of the dish at the same time.
- Serve with a side salad (like this classic Caesar Salad or a CopyCat Olive Garden Salad) and some really good garlic bread.
Italian Gnocchi Meatball Bake
This Italian Gnocchi Meatball Bake is total comfort food - pillowy potato gnocchi, beef and pork meatballs, spinach baked in a tomato sauce.
Ingredients for the Meatballs:
- 1 lb. 90% lean ground beef
- 1 lb. spicy pork Italian sausage
- 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
Ingredients for the Bake:
- 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. gnocchi (mine was from the refrigerator section at the grocery store)
- 5 oz. baby spinach leaves cleaned, stems removed
- 32 oz. marina sauce
- 5 oz. fresh mozzarella
Make the Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 450F. Set a rack in the upper 1/3 of the oven. Set a large baking dish on the counter where you’ll be working.
With clean hands, mix together beef, sausage and breadcrumbs - as gently as possible - until well combined. Form into balls a little larger than a golf ball and place into baking dish. You should get about 20 meatballs.
Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until browned and cooked throughout.
Make the Sauce and Gnocchi:
While meatballs are cooking, heat 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. When hot, add gnocchi, cooking for 3-5 minutes, until starting to brown.
Add spinach and continue sautéing until spinach is wilted.
Reduce heat to low and stir in marinara sauce. Keep warm until meatballs are ready.
Assemble and Bake:
When meatballs are cooked, remove from oven. Cover with gnocchi and sauce. Gently stir to mix. Top with torn pieces of mozzarella.
Return to oven and make for another 8-10 minutes until bubbling and sauce has melted. If desired, broil for 3-5 minutes, until top is starting to brown.
Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.