We have a thing for one-pot, one-pan, easy-peasy recipes around here. Who’d ever say no to a dish that checks all the boxes of minimal ingredients, easy prep, and quick clean-up? Thanks to my passion for simplicity, I’ve learned just about every cooking shortcut in my adamant attempt to avoid washing more than one dish. In my latest pursuit, I came up with this pesto gnocchi skillet bake that satisfies all my cravings for creamy, delicious dishes.
Here in Chicago at least, the temperatures have dropped and our heaters are on. Taking the place of warm summer weather, we have warming, cozy dinners on deck. Not only does this gnocchi skillet recipe solidify the comfy vibes, but it’s also flavored with pesto’s bright, vibrant deliciousness. The best part? Thanks to a healthy dose of spinach, you’ll get your greens without a salad in sight. (I’m all for clever recipes that do exactly that—though I do recommend a zingy lemon salad on the side, for flavor purposes.)
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What goes into this gnocchi skillet bake?
More good news: you only need five ingredients to make this pesto gnocchi skillet.
Pesto. The star of our recipe adds a rich, garlicky flavor to your dish. If you’re like me and prefer the shortcut of a favorite store-bought brand, feel free to pick some jarred pesto. Or if you have connections at your favorite Italian restaurant or deli, ask if they can package up some for you. (You’ll be shocked by how often you’re met with an enthusiastic yes!) And if you’re the Ina Garten we all aspire to be, use your own homemade version—but again, even she agrees: store-bought is fine.
Spinach. Blend fresh spinach for a luscious green sauce. And because this recipe leverages a go-big-or-go-home approach, you’ll throw in more chopped spinach for an extra green kick.
Cream cheese. Cream cheese adds a rich tang to the sauce. You can also use a little whole milk or heavy cream.
Mozzarella. No pasta bake is complete without a cheesy, golden brown top.
Gnocchi. The operative word in this gnocchi skillet. I used a bag of mini gnocchi from the grocery store, but feel free to use your favorite.
Tips for a Seamless and Successful Gnocchi Skillet Bake
While this is an incredibly easy and quick recipe to make, there are a few pointers to ensure success. Start with an oven-safe skillet. If you don’t have one, you can also prep the sauce in a stovetop pan and assemble it in a baking dish. But for one less dish, just use the skillet.
Because we’re not cooking the gnocchi prior to baking, you’ll need to add water to the sauce so the gnocchi has liquid to cook in while baking. To prep the sauce, sauté the spinach in the pesto in the skillet, then add to a blender with water. If the sauce feels too thick, add a little more water. You’re looking for a silky texture to coat the gnocchi.
One more tip! For anything bubbly and cheesy, I make sure to place a baking sheet on the rack below the skillet. This will help minimize the clean-up should there be any overflow.
While you’re getting a hefty dose of greens in the dish itself, with anything cheesy, I love serving a fresh and zingy salad on the side. It brightens up your whole dinner! My favorites:
- Holiday Jewels Chopped Kale Salad with Mustard-Shallot Vinaigrette
- Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad with Crispy Quinoa
- Kale, Persimmon, & Pomegranate Salad
Whichever you choose, these salads will add a nice contrast to a rich main. If you’re serving this for a special occasion or hosting a date night at home, serve with a crisp white wine to step things up all the more.
Did you make this recipe? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tag us on Instagram with your cozy creation.
- 4 tbsp of pesto, divided
- 5 oz spinach
- 3/4 cup of hot water
- 3 oz cream cheese
- 17 oz packaged gnocchi
- 6 oz shredded mozzarella
- to serve: chopped basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a stovetop or oven-safe skillet, add 2 tbsp of the pesto, a big pinch of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a medium heat. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, turn off the heat. Add spinach and hot water to a blender with the additional 2 tbsp of pesto. Blend until smooth.
- Heat skillet on low and add the sauce to the skillet. Add the cream cheese and stir until smooth. Turn off the heat and add the gnocchi, stirring to coat in the sauce. Optional, but you can add chopped spinach and mix here if you prefer.
- Sprinkle the mozzarella on top in an even layer. Place skillet in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until top is golden brown.
- Top with additional pesto, salt and pepper, basil, and a drizzle of lemon juice. Enjoy!
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