I’ve had a longstanding relationship with just about every kind of cheese. And by relationship, I really mean addiction. Whether it’s this Cheesy Baked Gnocchi or a decadent cheese plate, there’s no possible way I can turn down anything with cheese!
Now when that cheese happens to be fresh mozzarella that’s melted and slathered all over some perfect boiled gnocchi, well, ALL BETS ARE OFF. No one should be held accountable for their actions when a bowl of this is in front of you. The little pillows of gnocchi are doused in the worlds best sauce made of crispy pancetta, tomatoes, shallots, garlic and a hint of smoked paprika to give it a zing. And then it’s baked long enough just to melt that mozzarella and make it perfectly gooey. Ugh – I can’t even handle it!!!!
Give me a vat of this, a big cuddly blanket, and a chilly fall day and it’s pretty much a recipe for perfection!
CHEESY BAKED GNOCCHI
1 lb package store-bought gnocchi
4 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
fresh basil, torn
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
10 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Once boiling, cook the gnocchi until they just start to float. Remove them from the water once they float and immediately submerge them in an ice bath. Once cold, remove from the ice bath and set aside.
Meanwhile, add the cubed pancetta to a medium skillet over medium high heat and cook until most of the fat has rendered and the pancetta has browned. Pour off most of the fat, reduce heat to medium, and then add the shallots, garlic and smoked paprika. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, cherry tomatoes and sugar and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cream. Add the gnocchi to the sauce and season with salt and pepper and torn basil.
Transfer the gnocchi and sauce to an oven-proof dish and top with the torn mozzarella.
Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes until the mozzarella is melted and golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.