baked gnocchi alla puttanesca

Hi friends, this is a guest post from a friend of mine Debbie. Realizing that I’m the last person who should opine/review things relating to mommyhood, I asked Debbie to guest post (something I’ve never previously done). Debbie’s got this book out called “Parents Need to Eat Too” – and it’s a guide on how to manage that whole making food, feeding your baby, and not having a total breakdown. The whole concept of managing to make food and caring for a baby/toddler/child is, thus far, has eluded me. I’m sure it’s in too distant a future, but for the time being, all I’ve got to worry about besides feeding me and Andrew, is that our cat doesn’t starve. So – enjoy the guest post and I’m returning full force this week.


Hi, I’m Debbie Koenig. You might know me from my blog. I write recipes for busy parents—heck, my cookbook is called Parents Need to Eat Too! But even if you’ve never changed a diaper, you probably share the same issue as busy parents – time. There’s never enough of it these days it seems. Still, lack of time isn’t a reason not to cook yourself a meal.

Many of my dinner standbys have Italian roots like these vacuum-packed gnocchi. It’s a godsend to busy cooks: boil some salted water, toss the gnocchi in, and they puff up in less than five minutes. Pour on a little sauce and dinner is ready.

Baked Gnocchi alla Puttanesca, while still pantry based, takes things up a few notches—with olives, capers, and a mysterious, sultry hit of anchovy paste. You’ll skip the boiling water for this one—baking the uncooked gnocchi in the sauce allows those potato-ey pillows to soak up all that deep, rich flavor. The dumplings peeking out from under the cheese acquire a crunchy-topped, slightly chewy texture that I adore.

And while the whole mess bakes, you can throw a quick salad together, or better yet, pour yourself some wine and relax.

Baked Gnocchi alla Puttanesca
Serves 4

Several elements here are naturally salty, so you might want to use no-salt-added tomatoes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Generous pinch red pepper flakes (more if you like spicy food)
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2/3 cup pitted kalamata or other brine-cured olives, chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
One 1-pound package vacuum-packed gnocchi (whole wheat if you can find it)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.
1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When it shimmers add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the pepper flakes and stir, then add the anchovy paste. Cook, stirring, another 30 seconds to 1 minute, then add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the olives and capers.
2. Add the gnocchi. Stir and transfer the mixture to the baking dish. It should look quite wet, even watery—don’t worry, the gnocchi will absorb most of that liquid. Top with the cheese and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the edges are bubbling and the cheese is nicely browned.

MAKE BABY FOOD: Olives, capers, and mozzarella can all be quite salty, so I wouldn’t serve this to the littlest eaters. For a slightly older baby, substitute a splash of hot sauce for the red pepper flakes (a flake on the tongue might be a bit much for infants!), or leave out the heat entirely. Cut up a few pieces of the gnocchi and serve with a little bit of chopped olives, capers, and a handful of (uncooked) shredded cheese.


  • KJ

    I like ricotta gnocchi, which at this point the only way I know how to get is to make it myself.

    If you happen to live near Cleveland, there is a pasta stand at the market which sells fresh potato gnocchi. Everyone should be as lucky.

    Thanks for the recipe.

  • emmycooks

    Yum! I also started my blog to inspire myself to cook more in spite of (I mean, to nourish) the three little girls who suddenly take up a lot of my time. And I love the tips on making this a dinner that the whole family will eat. That is definitely one way that I try to make cooking for the whole family easier!

  • Lana

    I love gnocchi and always have a baggie in my freezer, but I have never had baked ones. This dish seems extremely easy to put together and definitely worth a try next time gnocchi are on the menu:)
    Good to see you here, Debbie:)

  • The Cozy Herbivore

    Okay, I love gnocchi, and I LOVE puttanesca sauce. What a perfect marriage of these delightful things! I can’t wait to make this– minus the anchovies for me, of course. (I generally substitute kombu for that briny sea-tang– not exactly the same, but fish-free for this herbivore)

    Great recipe!

  • Anne Zimmerman

    I don’t have kids, but I have a sick family member and am in search of meals that don’t take too much thought, are comforting, and provide leftovers. This one looks marvelous. It is on my list for next week!

  • jim

    Thanks Debbie,

    Looks like this is what I shall be preparing for my wife’s birthday. Another quick multi-kid family meal for me has been Thomas Keller’s Roasted Chicken with Roasted Vegetables. Prep time is about 6 minutes and just just sit back and smell. Pureed leftover veggies make excellent baby food.


  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    I don’t think there’s any way in hell Eric is going to let me make this for him. He loves olives… LOVES them… but he complains when they’re cooked. Picky man. :-( This looks so good, though! I might have to make it anyway. Screw him!

  • M

    I made this and it was great: fast and easy and delicious. I don’t know if I’d use whole wheat gnocchi again, but it might have just been the brand I used. This will be my go-to ‘guests are coming over right after work tomorrow and i have to prepare the night ahead’ recipe.

  • Graham

    Some of the worst things one can eat are store-bought gnocchi. Perhaps this does not hold true for the US; otherwise… both hard and slimy, and doubtless full of additives. Gnocchi: 2 potatoes to 1 flour, butter, egg…. made while the potato is still warm and then cooked pretty much at once. This dish could well be worth trying if you forget about doing it fast.

  • christine eveland

    I added a 1/2 pound of mild italian sausage to this and it was wonderful. This recipes was so quick to get together, I will make this again and again.

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