Gnocchi surrounded by a bubbling spinach and cream cheese sauce and covered by a blanket of melted cheese… If you’re in the need for a quick and easy comforting and wholesome dish, this spinach gnocchi bake is for you!Jump to Recipe
Table of Contents
About this Recipe
Some pre-made gnocchi, frozen spinach, some cream cheese and grated mozzarella cheese is everything you need for this incredibly delicious and comforting meal.
Well, almost everything. But, nevertheless, this gnocchi spinach casserole is the perfect weeknight dinner. It’s simple and quick to make and tastes like a real treat while still being healthy and calorie friendly. What more could you ask for?
Uh, there’s one more thing! Since we’ll use frozen spinach, this recipe is also budget friendly. Did you know that frozen spinach is as least as healthy and nutrient rich as fresh spinach? Since the spinach get frozen right after harvest, it retains the vast majority of its nutrients.
In contrast, the fresh spinach leaves we buy at the grocery store have been lying around for several days at the farmer’s, in trucks and stores before we end up eating them. And during that time they loose more and more nutrients.
What are Gnocchi Made of and How to Prepare Them?
Beside the melted cheese on top, the gnocchi are for sure the star of meal today. But what exactly are gnocchi? Gnocchi are Italian potato dumplings made from boiled potatoes, flour and sometimes egg. After forming, the dumplings are boiled briefly in water and then they could already be served.
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, I’ll link you to a detailed tutorial for making 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 this?
- Frozen spinach – not the creamed one but simply plain spinach leaves
- One medium white or yellow onion and fresh garlic for some aromatics
- A small dash of canola or olive oil
- Some fresh cherry tomatoes – that’s optional but if they are in season, throw them in.
- Cream cheese for the sauce – you can also go with a mixture of cream cheese and ricotta cheese. If you want to save some calories, go with the fat-reduced cream cheese.
- A splash of heavy cream/ cooking cream or a non-dairy substitute – feel free to use a fat-reduced version
- Pre-made gnocchi
- Salt, pepper, some freshly grated nutmeg and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Cheese of your choice like mozzarella (the classic, firm or fat-reduced one), gouda or cheddar
The exact measurements can be found in the recipe card below. The amounts given there make two servings, but you can easily adjust them to your liking.
Please note, 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
If you like, you can also omit the tomatoes in this recipe. Alternatively, you could replace them with some red bell peppers or mushrooms.
As mentioned earlier, you can also use a plant-based cooking cream instead of regular or low-fat cream. You can find oat and soy cooking creams in almost every grocery store these days.
Alternatively, you can also use a creamy oat milk or some coconut milk instead. But make sure the sauce stays nicely thick and creamy.
And, finally, feel free to use sweet potato, squash, spinach, basil, or even homemade gnocchi for this recipe, if you want to.
How to Make this Recipe
Make sure to thaw the frozen spinach before you start cooking. If you’re in a rush, simply defrost it in your microwave, if not, just let it thaw on your counter.
As soon as the spinach is mostly defrosted, you can start peeling the onion and garlic cloves. Then cut the onion into small cubes and mince the garlic.
Now, in a pan, add the oil, onion and garlic pieces, season with salt and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Next, add the tomatoes and sauté for another three to five minutes while stirring occasionally. If you feel like the onion and garlic pieces are about to burn, add a dash of hot water to the pan.
Once the tomatoes are nicely soft, you can add the spinach and mix. Reduce the heat and add the cream cheese and cooking cream, stir well.
Next, season the sauce with plenty of pepper, salt, and a pinch of nutmeg. Add a few squeezes of lemon juice, give it a taste test and adjust to your likings.
Then stir in the gnocchi and transfer everything to a baking dish unless you’re using an ovenproof skillet. Sprinkle the surface with grated cheese and pop it in the pre-heated oven at 200°C or 400°F for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown on top.
Serve this spinach gnocchi bake as it is or with some additional proteins like salmon, tilapia or tofu on the side.
Here’s How to Save this Recipe or Make It in Advance
You may have heard that spinach and meals that contain spinach should not be reheated. The reason is the relatively high nitrate content in spinach. As a leafy vegetable, spinach is naturally rich in nitrate, which isn’t a problem at all.
It can only become problematic when bacteria transform nitrate into nitrite, and again this nitrite is transformed into so-called nitrosamines through a combination with certain protein degradation products. These compounds can be carcinogenic. However, even this is not yet completely certain, as this effect is so far only known from animal experiments.
However, the risk does not arise when spinach is actually reheated, but when spinach is kept warm for a long time or stored at room temperature. So, if you want to save leftovers from your gnocchi spinach casserole, make sure to refrigerate them as quickly as possible.
Therefore, transfer them directly into a container and either put them directly into the refrigerator or chill them briefly in a cold water bath or, if it’s cold enough, outside before you put them in the fridge.
Stored in the fridge, the leftovers will keep for up to two days. To reheat, I would either pop them in the oven, microwave or reheat them on the stove.
Your Common Questions Answered
In case there are any questions left, I hope these FAQs will help you. If not, feel free to drop your question in the comments below.
Well, I think so, but I don’t recommend it. It has significantly less nutrients and since we make our own creamed spinach sauce, there’s no need to use frozen creamed spinach.
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.
You can use regular gnocchi as well as sweet potato gnocchi, squash gnocchi, basil gnocchi or spinach gnocchi here. Whatever gets in your way or is your favorite could be used for this gnocchi bake. You can also make your own gnocchi from scratch but these need to be boiled first before you add them to the sauce.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 easy and wholesome casserole recipes!
- Mexican Pasta Bake With Ground Beef
- Easy Tortellini Casserole with Ricotta
- Baked Rigatoni with Ricotta in a Creamy Veggie Sauce
Have fun trying it out and bon appétit,
Spinach Gnocchi Bake
- 1 sautée pan
- 1 casserole dish
- 350 g frozen spinach (12.5 oz)
- 1 small to medium-sized onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 200 g cherry tomatoes (optional)* (7 oz)
- 80 g (fat-reduced) cream cheese (3 oz or 6 tbsp)
- 80 ml low-fat cooking cream or non-dairy cooking cream ** (⅓ cup)
- black pepper, nutmeg
- 300 g pre-made gnocchi (10.5 oz)
- ½ lemon
- 80 g grated cheese (cheddar, gouda, mozzarella, fat-reduced cheese, …) (⅔ cups or 3 oz)
- Place the frozen spinach in a colander and let it thaw for about 1 hour at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C or 400°F. Peel and finely dice the onion and garlic cloves. Wash and halve the tomatoes. In a pan, add the oil and sauté the onion with a pinch of salt over medium heat until translucent.
- Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Next, add the tomatoes and sauté over medium heat for three to five minutes, stirring occasionally. (If the garlic seems to burn, add a dash of hot water to the pan.)
- Add the spinach and crush the blocks with a wooden spoon or spatula. Reduce the heat, stir in the cream cheese, ricotta cheese and cooking cream. Season to taste with pepper, salt, a pinch of nutmeg and a little bit of lemon juice.
- Add the gnocchi to the sauce, mix well and transform everything to a casserole dish. Sprinkle the cheese on top and put it in the oven for 20 minutes.