Cheesy Italian Gnocchi Bake

Go Bold With Butter

It’s always around this time of year, when the days get shorter and the nights a bit cooler, when I start craving my favorite fall food group – casseroles.

Easy to toss together, then cook until hot and bubbly, Cheesy Italian Gnocchi Bake will be a hit with your entire family. Lean spicy Italian sausage is cooked with shredded zucchini, then layered with packaged gnocchi, marinara sauce, homemade buttery béchamel sauce and shredded Mozzarella cheese, then cooked until heated through. Serve with a side salad for a fantastic early-fall dinner.

Cheesy Italian Gnocchi Bake
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1lb spicy Italian turkey sausage
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 package (16oz) potato gnocchi
1-16oz jar marinara sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

For the béchamel sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
salt & pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage and zucchini until sausage is no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Cook gnocchi in a large pot of salted, boiling water according to package directions. Drain then return to the pot.

Meanwhile, make the béchamel sauce. In a large skillet, melt butter, then add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in flour and cook for 30 more seconds. Slowly whisk in milk, breaking up any lumps. Season with salt & pepper, then switch to a spatula and stir sauce until thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat then stir in Parmesan cheese.

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8×8″ baking dish with butter, then spread 1/4 cup marinara sauce on the bottom. Add half the cooked gnocchi, half the sausage and zucchini mixture, half the white sauce, half of the remaining marinara sauce, and 1 cup Mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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Use softened butter for cookies and cakes.

Bringing butter to room temperature helps it incorporate better with other ingredients.

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