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Easy Gnocchi Lasagna Bake

This gnocchi lasagna bake is a simple recipe that is guaranteed to please everyone! While the store-bought gnocchi are cooking in an easy to make Bolognese sauce, the cheese is melting top and transform this “fake lasagna” into an outstanding meal. 

And while this gnocchi bake taste like comfort food at its best, it’s still a wholesome meal since we sneak in a load of mushrooms. But no worries, nobody will ever notice them. Therefore, this recipe is made for picky eaters!

If quick and easy gnocchi casseroles are your jam, make sure to check out my easy mozzarella gnocchi bake or my simple spinach gnocchi bake!

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Gnocchi Lasagna Bake served in a cast iron pan.
This gnocchi lasagna bake is easy, wholesome and incredibly delicious!

About this Recipe

This casserole is comfort food as it should be. In fact, it even combines two of our favorite dishes, lasagna and gnocchi, into one incredibly easy and quick to make recipe. 

But not only does this dish taste absolutely delicious, it’s also pretty healthy. In fact, there is a ton of hidden mushrooms in this sauce that probably no one will ever notice. 

Now you’re probably wondering how exactly mushrooms can become invisible. But the trick is the way we prepare them. 

Instead of slicing or quartering them, we simply put the mushrooms in a food processor. This way we can chop them up really finely so they become remarkably similar in terms of color and consistency to ground meat. 

And because of their unami flavor they can no longer be distinguished from ground meat in the sauce. Therefore, they become basically invisible. Genius, isn’t it?

Close up of a spoon with the gnocchi lasagna bake on it.
Can you see the mushrooms?

What are Gnocchi Made of and How to Prepare Them?

Instead of lasagna sheets we will use some gnocchi in today’s recipe. But what exactly are gnocchi? 

Gnocchi are Italian potato dumplings made from boiled potatoes, flour and sometimes eggs. After forming, the dumplings are boiled in water.

In Italy, they are often served like pasta as the first main course. They are usually eaten with tomato sauces, melted butter or sometimes with a fresh basil pesto.

If you prefer to make your gnocchi from scratch, check out this detailed tutorial for homemade gnocchi

However, nowadays you can find the delicious potato dumplings everywhere as a convenience product in the refrigerated counter. These gnocchi only need to be briefly put into hot water or pan-fried, which reduces the amount of work enormously.

However, if you prepare a gnocchi casserole, as we do, even this step is redundant. In fact, thanks to the sauce, the gnocchi cook directly in the oven, so we don’t need an extra pan or pot. I mean, how easy is that?

Ingredients 

  • An onion or shallots and some garlic as aromatics
  • Some vegetable oil for frying
  • 95% lean ground beef or a plant-based substitute
  • Brown mushrooms 
  • Some cherry tomatoes (optional, could be omitted when they aren’t in season) 
  • Canned strained tomatoes for the sauce
  • Some (fat-reduced) cream cheese to make the Bolognese even more flavorful
  • Pre-cooked gnocchi 
  • Grated cheese like mozzarella, gouda, cheddar, or a fat reduced shredded cheese

You can find the exact measurements in the recipe card below. And of course, you can easily adjust the serving sizes there. 

Furthermore, please note that I always base portion sizes on my personal dietary needs (presumably those of the average woman). However, you or perhaps one of your fellow eaters may need more or less than I do. So, feel free to adjust.

Substitutions and Variations 

To make this recipe meatless simply replace the ground beef with a vegan or vegetarian ground meat substitute. If you prefer it 100% plant-based also make sure to use a vegan cheese and to omit the cream cheese or to use some cashew cream instead. 

If you want to save some excess calories make sure to use a 95% lean ground beef or a 95 to 99% lean ground chicken or turkey. Furthermore, make sure to either use a fat-reduced cheese or to use just less of it.

Easy gnocci bake recipe lasagna style served in a cast iron pan.
So simple to make, but this gnocchi bake tastes like heaven.

How to Make this Recipe

To make the recipe, you’ll need a cast iron sauté pan. However, if all you have is a regular pan, you can also transfer the sauce and gnocchi to a casserole dish before you bake the lasagna in the oven. 

You also need a food processor to finely chop the mushrooms. But if you don’t have one on hand, that’s no problem either. Just make sure to cut the mushrooms as finely as you can. And if they don’t need to be invisible, you can also cut them into slightly larger cubes or thin slices.

We start the recipe with our sauce. Therefore, peel the onions and garlic cloves and finely dice them. In a pan, add the oil and sauté the onion and garlic cubes over medium heat until translucent. 

Next, add the ground beef. Break it up with a wooden spoon or spatula and let it brown for a few minutes until the meat is nicely brown and crumbly. 

Meanwhile, take care of the mushrooms. Clean them and transfer them to your food processor. Pulse for a few times, until the mushrooms are finely chopped. In case your food processor is more on the smaller side, chop the mushrooms in batches so it doesn’t get too crowded in there. Also wash and halve the tomatoes.

Once the meat is nicely browned and crumbly, add the chopped mushrooms and sauté them for a minute or two before adding the cherry tomatoes.

After another three to four minutes, season it with salt and pepper and add the strained tomatoes. Then stir in the cream cheese and add the gnocchi.

In case your pan isn’t oven proof transfer the gnocchi Bolognese to a casserole dish before you spread the shredded cheese on top. Then pop the lasagna in the oven at 200°C or 400°F for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is nicely golden brown. 

How to Serve It

A few extra vitamins never hurt, so I like to serve this gnocchi lasagna bake with a green or mixed salad on the side. 

To keep things simple, just use a spring mix and either make my easy 4 ingredient honey mustard dressing or the honey mustard balsamic vinegar dressing

Here’s How to Save this Recipe or Make It in Advance

If you have any leftovers, you can just transfer them to a container and store them in the fridge. The casserole should keep there for two to three days. You can either reheat the leftovers in your microwave or in a skillet on the stove.

If you want meal prep this recipe, then I would suggest to only pre-cook the Bolognese sauce. The sauce will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. And once you want to make the gnocchi lasagna, all you need to do is to mix the sauce with the gnocchi, top it with some cheese and bake it in the oven for 20 minutes. 

Your Common Questions Answered

In case there are any questions left, I hope these FAQ will help you. If not, feel free to drop your question in the comments below.

What kind of meat should I use?

I prefer to use a 95% lean ground beef but feel free to use a ground beef with more fat or a ground turkey or chicken instead.

Do I have to pan fry or boil the gnocchi beforehand?

No, you can add store-bought gnocchi directly to the sauce without cooking or frying them first. They will cook while baking in the oven, where they are surrounded by plenty of sauce.

Which kind of cheese should I use?

Any type of cheese that melts well is appropriate. Gouda, Emmental, firm mozzarella and cheddar are certainly always good choices. If you want to save some calories, you can also use a fat-reduced cheese.

How long does the gnocchi lasagna take in the oven?

Bake this gnocchi lasagna at 200°C or 400°F for 20 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted and golden brown on top. 

Save for later

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I hope you like this recipe and that you give it a try soon. If you have any further questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments, or send me a massage via email at contact@julesbalancedrecipes.com or Instagram(@julesbalancedrecipes). 

In case, you’ve tried this recipe, I’d appreciate your comment and rating for this recipe. It’s easy to do via the comments section below this post and it would mean the world to me.

And if you loved this recipe, you may also like some of my other recipes like …

Have fun trying it out and bon appétit,
Jules

easy gnocci bake recipe lasagna style

Gnocchi Bake Lasagna Style

Julia Schmitt
Simple Bolognese casserole with gnocchi and tucked away mushrooms. Served with some salad on the side it's a well balanced, family-friendly meal
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 466 kcal

Equipment

  • big cast iron pan or pot – alternatively, a deep, large skillet and a casserole dish
  • food processor

Ingredients
  

  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1,5 tsp olive oil
  • 400 g 95% lean ground beef 14 oz
  • 400 g mushrooms 14 oz
  • 200 g cherry tomatoes 7 oz
  • salt, pepper
  • 300 to 400 g strained tomatoes 11 to 14 oz or 1½ to 1⅔ cups
  • 50 g low-fat cream cheese 1.8 oz or ¼ cup
  • 500 g fresh gnocchi 17 oz (from the refrigerated section)
  • 100 g fat reduced grated cheese 3.5 oz or 1 cup

Instructions
 

Prepare Bolognese Sauce

  • Preheat oven to 400°F/ 200°C. Peel and finely dice onions and garlic. Heat oil in pan and sauté them until translucent. Add ground beef and fry until crumbly.
  • Meanwhile, clean mushrooms and finely chop them in a food processor so that the shape resembles browned minced meat, add to the meat as soon as it has a crumbly consistency. Wash and halve the tomatoes and add them to the pan too, season with salt and pepper and sauté for three to four minutes. Reduce heat, add strained tomatoes and cream cheese, stir well. Add the gnocchi to the sauce.

Bake Gnocci Lasagna

  • Sprinkle cheese on top and place skillet in the oven for 20 minutes. If not using a cast iron or oven-proof pan, transfer gnocchi lasagna to an oven-proof baking dish first.
  • Serve gnocchi bake with a mixed or green salad on the side.

Notes

nutritional values per serving:
  • calories: 466 kcal
  • fat: 13,9 g
  • carbohydrates: 47,2 g
  • protein: 38,9 g

Nutrition

Calories: 466kcal
Keyword casserole, family recipes, ground beef, noodle casserole, pasta bake, wild mushrooms
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