Friday, September 6, 2013

Footballs and Dumplings

So our 12-year-old son is playing football at school.  He is really enjoying it, but it's a little scary for me.  He is 5'6" tall and wears a size 11 shoe, but he's skinny.  He already got tackled and had a bump pop out of his wrist. He is excited about the prospect of tackling people, and I suffer extreme anxiety at the prospect of him getting tackled.  What if they break him? Yes, I know I live in Texas and, yes, I know I live in a college town where football is very important.  But he's my son.  I imagine myself running out on the field, grabbing another kid by his face mask, and scaring the Skittles out of him.  Then some other mom would run out on the field and it would BE ON!  I would be banned from junior high football forever.

Okay.  On to the real reason we're here.  Have you ever had gnocchi?  If not, they are little potato dumplings used in place of pasta.  They look like little footballs.  (Nice tie in to my story, huh.)  My husband loves gnocchi. (I say he loves something a lot, don't I.)  So I made Gnocchi al Forno, which means gnocchi from the oven.  This is so tasty with marinara, cream, pancetta, Italian sausage and, of course, topped with a lot of cheese.  So darn tasty!  If you haven't had gnocchi, you need to try it. They are so good.

By the way, the first Cowboys game of the season is in TWO DAYS!!!

1/2 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb Italian sausage (either bulk or links with the casings removed)
2 lbs gnocchi
1/4 lb pancetta, diced
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped
Red chili flakes, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 C Basic Marinara (click for recipe)
1 C heavy cream
Olive oil
1 1/2 C shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook gnocchi according to package directions.

Cook the pancetta in a large skillet until crisp.  Drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Drizzle some olive oil into the same skillet.  Cook the onion over medium high heat until tender.  Add in the sausage and the garlic. Cook, breaking the sausage up as you go, until the sausage is done.  Drain the grease, if necessary.  Add in the marinara and heavy cream and season with salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste.  Stir to incorporate.  When the sauce is heated through, remove from heat and stir in the parsley and reserved pancetta.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the gnocchi together with the sauce.  Pour this into a 9 x 13 casserole pan.  Sprinkle the Mozzarella and Parmesan all over the top.  Bake about 15-20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted and browned on top.


  1. How difficult is it to make homemade gnocchi, I wonder? I've become way more wary than I should be of prepackaged foods but I WILL be making this. You inspire me :)

    1. Great thought, Trixie. I've never made homemade gnocchi, but my husband is a HUGE fan. I am now going to put that on my immediate to do list! Thank you for posting that!

  2. I made this recipe for dinner with my homemade gnocchi the other night. I'm such a space case, I forgot to add in the cream when I added the marinara - and didn't even think about it until the next day. SMH!! It was a hit anyway, my people ate every last bite. I call that a success! Thank you, Cindy. :)

    1. You're so welcome, Trixie! I'm so glad it turned out well for you. I can't wait to see your blog post on it!