If you’re in the mood for a meal that’s bursting with flavor and made entirely in one dish, look no further than this one pan vegetarian gnocchi bake.
Cooked in a steam convection oven or a regular oven (see variations in the recipe), baked gnocchi is a weeknight winner that’s comforting, filling and adapts well to all sorts of flavor combinations.
I’ll show you below how to get creative with variations to jazz up your oven baked gnocchi, and share valuable tips for achieving perfection. Get ready to satisfy your taste buds and simplify your dinnertime.
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What is a vegetarian gnocchi bake and why would I make it?
At its heart, this gnocchi bake is just a quick assemblage of ingredients, based around potato gnocchi. A baked gnocchi recipe is a brilliant solution to the never-ending challenge of weeknight cooking. It’s made from fridge and pantry staples and entirely in one pan, minimizing cleanup. It’s suitable for non-meat eaters. And the flavors that develop when everything cooks together in a baked potato gnocchi are fantastic.
Never tried gnocchi? Think soft, pillowy little dumplings made with mashed potato, egg and flour. Freshly made gnocchi usually has a softer texture and a very short shelf life. There are plenty of store bought options, and they’re absolutely fine to use in this recipe. I recommend the packaged gnocchi from the fridge section or the pasta aisle of the supermarket.
You could make your own gnocchi for this recipe, however it kind of defeats the purpose of a fast one pan dinner! I like to save fresh gnocchi for other recipes, where the delicate nature of the dumplings is more on show.
Many one pan or sheet pan meals like this center around meat, but they don’t have to! My popular sheet pan haloumi with Mediterranean vegetables is a great example of a low carb one pan meal that’s meat free. This tomato and pesto gnocchi bake swings to the other side of the carbs pendulum. It’s still vegetarian, but it’s starchy and creamy and so comforting.
Are you enjoying this post? Here are some of the most popular one pan recipes on the site!
Tips for a perfect vegetarian gnocchi bake
To ensure your vegetarian gnocchi bake turns out perfectly, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Choose the right gnocchi: opt for a store-bought fresh (or frozen) gnocchi over the packaged stuff in the dried pasta aisle. Fresh gnocchi will roast up more fluffy in the middle when you bake gnocchi. You could make your own gnocchi from scratch for an extra special touch.
- Use a large enough baking dish or pan. You want the ingredients to cook mostly in a single layer for this dish. It lets the gnocchi and tomatoes meld together easily, and gives a nice chewy and golden crust on the tops of the gnocchi pieces. I use my favorite cast iron enameled dish for this (and many other one pan recipes).
- Don’t skimp on the oil: the olive oil in this recipe gives the exterior of the gnocchi a golden color and a gorgeous chewy kind of texture. Without it you’ll have dry and unappealing baked gnocchi.
- Use steam to make your gnocchi extra fluffy (if you have a steam oven). Gnocchi bake made using combi steam allows all the moisture to remain in the dumplings while browning the outsides.
- Use a lid or cover your pan (if you’re using a regular oven). Allow moisture from the tomatoes to create a steamy environment by covering the pan while baking the gnocchi. If you want a more golden finish, remove the lid at the end of cooking and quickly broil or grill the gnocchi.
- Elevate with additions. Enhance your gnocchi bake by incorporating extra ingredients like fresh herbs, different vegetables and cheeses, proteins, or breadcrumbs for a crispy topping. These additions can take your dish to new heights of deliciousness.
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Variations for the best baked gnocchi
One pan vegetarian gnocchi bake is incredibly versatile, making it a canvas for other flavors and textures. While the base recipe is delicious, you can easily add your own personal touch, and you don’t have to keep it meat free if you have dedicated carnivores to feed! Here are some ideas to inspire you:
Chorizo and mozzarella gnocchi bake
If you don’t want to go all-vegetarian, add a couple of sliced chorizo sausages to the pan at the start of cooking. Omit the pesto at the end, instead tearing in 4 ounces (120g) mozzarella cheese so it can melt through the dish. The gnocchi will take on the garlicky, spicy and savory flavors of the chorizo, which sizzles and turns golden and crispy in the oven.
Baked gnocchi with broccoli
Love oven roasted broccoli as much as I do? This will be a fantastic alternative to the tomato gnocchi. Use a small head of broccoli, broken into florets, instead of the cherry tomatoes. Add 2 tablespoons of water to account for the lower moisture content of the broccoli. You may need a little more cream to loosen the dish at the end of cooking.
Chicken gnocchi bake
Turn the dish into more of a protein-packed dinner by adding chicken! Cut small boneless, skinless chicken thighs in half and toss them through with the gnocchi and tomatoes. Use an extra tablespoon of oil to make sure the chicken is well-coated. The chicken juices will soak into the gnocchi as everything cooks, and the creamy pesto finish is chicken’s best friend.
Feel free to experiment with your favorite ingredients and flavor combinations; there are so many more ways to make a fantastic creamy gnocchi bake.
There you have it, folks—a new culinary adventure awaits with one pan vegetarian gnocchi bake. Embrace the simplicity and flavors of one pan dinners, get creative with variations, and follow my tips for a sensational meal that will leave you satisfied and stress-free.
See you here again soon.
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Vegetarian Gnocchi Bake
- 3 cloves garlic finely sliced
- 2 stalks rosemary leaves picked and chopped
- 1 pound potato gnocchi fresh, frozen or shelf stable
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp flaky salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 3 Tbsp heavy cream or creme fraiche, or sour cream
- 3 Tbsp basil pesto storebought or home made
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese grated, for serving
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes optional, for serving
Combi steam directions
- Preheat your oven to Combi Steam, 450°F/230°C. If your oven has variable steam settings, choose 80% (if not, don’t worry! Just set to combi steam at the correct temperature and the oven will figure out the humidity for you). Have a large baking dish or pan ready.
Standard oven directions
- Preheat your oven to 400F/200C. Have a large lidded pan or baking dish ready (or use aluminum foil for covering).
All ovens: method
- Peel the garlic and slice it very thinly. Pick the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and coarsely chop. Toss the garlic and rosemary with the gnocchi, cherry tomatoes, salt and black pepper directly in the baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and gently toss to combine. Spread into an even layer.3 cloves garlic, 2 stalks rosemary, 1 pound potato gnocchi, 1 pint cherry tomatoes, 1/2 tsp flaky salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Put the baking dish into the oven and cook, stirring halfway through, until the tomatoes have burst and are starting to brown, about 15 minutes for combi steam or 20-25 minutes for standard ovens.
- Remove from the oven. Working quickly, add the spinach, cream and pesto to the pan. Gently toss through but don’t worry too much if it’s a little unevenly mixed.2 cups baby spinach leaves, 3 Tbsp heavy cream, 3 Tbsp basil pesto
- Return the pan to the oven for 2-3 minutes, until the spinach has wilted. Remove from the oven and toss again so the cream, pesto and roasted tomatoes form a creamy sauce. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes if desired. Serve hot.2 oz Parmesan cheese, 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- You can use fresh home made gnocchi instead of store bought, but it doesn’t really do the gnocchi justice. I’d stick to packaged gnocchi here and save the fancy stuff for a dish where it can shine more.
- There are lots of flavor variations with this dish. Here are my favorites:
- Chorizo and mozzarella gnocchi bake: if you don’t want to go all-vegetarian, add a couple of sliced chorizo sausages to the pan at the start of cooking. Omit the pesto at the end, instead tearing in 4 ounces (120g) mozzarella cheese so it can melt through the dish. The gnocchi will take on the garlicky, spicy and savory flavors of the chorizo, which sizzles and turns golden and crispy in the oven.
- Baked gnocchi with broccoli: if you love oven roasted broccoli as much as I do, this will be a fantastic alternative to the tomato gnocchi. Use a small head of broccoli, broken into florets, instead of the cherry tomatoes. Add 2 tablespoons of water to account for the lower moisture content of the broccoli. You may need a little more cream to loosen the dish at the end of cooking.
- Chicken gnocchi bake: turn the dish into more of a protein-packed dinner by adding chicken! Cut small boneless, skinless chicken thighs in half and toss them through with the gnocchi and tomatoes. Use an extra tablespoon of oil to make sure the chicken is well-coated, and cook the dish for 5-10 minutes more than the recipe says. The chicken juices will soak into the gnocchi as everything cooks, and the creamy pesto finish is chicken’s best friend.