Take your bolognese to a new level with this Gnocchi Bolognese Bake! Think little pillows of potato dumplings in a rich veggie bolognese, then baked with creamy mozzarella. This is the ultimate comfort food!
We all love a good veggie bolognese but sometimes you just want something more, something extra! That’s exactly what this gnocchi bolognese is. This is comfort food at its best, a delicious combination of gnocchi and bolognese, rich and comforting, and totally extra! And it’s a one-pot dinner, so you’re saving on the washing up too!
This recipe takes a little longer to make so we like to have this at the weekend, but it’s always worth the wait. Cooking that veggie bolognese sauce a little longer gives this dish so much more flavour. And baking it in the oven with all that creamy mozzarella is cheesy comfort food heaven! Let’s get stuck in!
Why This Recipe Works
- That veggie bolognese sauce – rich and hearty, with just a hint of heat, lots of veggies and lentils.
- Gnocchi – perfect little pillows of potato, these dumplings are delicious in a ragu!
- Baked bolognese – baked until that cheese is all gooey and delicious.
- One-pot dinner – all done in one pot, no boiling the gnocchi first! This also means less washing up.
What You’ll Need
- Gnocchi – store-bought is absolutely fine here! Fresh gnocchi is on the fluffier side compared to the vacuum-packed versions but they both taste the same so I wouldn’t be too fussy about this one.
- Puy lentils – I use store-bought pre-cooked lentils. This is an easy recipe, and something I like to make with as little hassle as possible. But if you want you can, of course, cook up a batch of lentils beforehand. Puy lentils are best for this recipe though.
- For the veggie bolognese sauce – onion, carrots, celery, red bell pepper, canned tomatoes, tomato puree (paste), garlic, fennel seeds, dried oregano, red wine, soy sauce, vegetable stock and a very small pinch of red chilli flakes. The fennel seeds add great flavour to this sauce, so I definitely recommend keeping these in. The red chilli flakes are optional and depending on how you like you bolognese you can omit them or add extra, it’s up to you. Red wine also adds a lovely richness to the sauce but if you’re serving this to children you may want to omit it.
- Cheese – One ball of mozzarella is plenty for this, I also add some veggie parmesan too. I have made this with low-fat mozzarella and it didn’t really cut it so I recommend using full fat for this one.
How To Make Gnocchi Bolognese Bake
This is just a quick visual guide, please see the recipe card below for full instructions.
- Cook the onion, garlic and celery until soft. Add the garlic, oregano and fennel seeds then add the red bell pepper and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the wine and cook until it reduces. Pour in the can of chopped (diced) tomatoes, tomato puree (paste) and soy sauce. Stir well.
- Next, add the lentils and stock and cook until the sauce is thick and has reduced slightly.
- Finally, add the gnocchi, then stir them into the sauce. Spread the mozzarella over the top of the sauce and add some grated veggie parmesan. Cover the pan loosely with tin foil and place in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Carefully remove the tin foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Leave to cool slightly before serving.
Tips For Making The Best Gnocchi Bolognese Bake
- Let that sauce cook for a while! You want all those lovely flavours to develop and create and a rich and tasty sauce!
- Save yourself some time by using store-bought gnocchi and pre-cooked lentils. You could save yourself even more time by cooking the sauce the day before!
- Cover the pan while it bakes. This will stop the cheese from overcooking but at the same time help the gnocchi to cook. Just remember to remove the foil for about 10 minutes at the end to get that cheese browned up a bit.
- Use full-fat cheese. This is comfort food, full-fat cheese brings all the creamy gooeyness that you need!
- Wine is optional – but recommended. If you are serving this to young children or pregnant women I would avoid the wine. The chilli flakes are also optional, I like to add a small pinch to lift the sauce up a bit but that’s up to you. Don’t add too much though, it will overpower the bolognese.
Can I make this ahead? You can make the bolognese sauce a day or two ahead. Store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Heat it up on the hob then add the gnocchi and follow the rest of the instructions as per the recipe.
Can I freeze this? This dish is best made fresh and served straight away. But if you need to you can freeze it. Once you’ve added the gnocchi leave the dish to cool. When the dish has cooled completely, transfer it to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight before reheating. Loosely cover with foil and bake until it is thoroughly heated through. Then complete the dish by adding the mozzarella and veggie parmesan and cook for a further 10 minutes uncovered in the oven.
How long will this last in the fridge? If you do have any leftovers, store them in the fridge and reheat in the oven. Cover the dish loosely with foil and bake in the oven until piping hot. There may be some texture difference due to the mozzarella.
More Tasty Comfort Food Inspiration
If you love gnocchi then you’ll love my Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Spinach and Tomatoes, this is a really tasty dinner and always goes down so well in my house. If you prefer a lighter gnocchi dish try my Pesto Gnocchi with Peas and Courgettes. And if you fancy something totally different, try my Tofu Tikka Masala another great comfort food recipe.
Have you made this Gnocchi Bolognese Bake Recipe? Rate it and leave me a comment below to let me know what you think!
Gnocchi Bolognese Bake
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium brown onion finely chopped
- 1 large carrot peeled then finely chopped
- 1 stalk of celery finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 heaped tbsp dried oregano
- ½ level tbsp fennel seeds
- ¼ level tsp red chilli flakes optional
- 1 x 400 g / 14.5 oz can of chopped (diced) tomatoes
- 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree (paste)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 50 ml / ¼ of a cup red wine optional
- 200 ml /½ a cup of vegetable stock made with 1 vegetable stock cube + 200ml (½ a cup) of boiled water
- 1 large red bell pepper (capsicum) pith and seeds removed then roughly chopped
- 1 x 250 g pack of puy lentils (1+¼ cups)
- 1 x 500 g / 17.6oz pack of gnocchi
- 1 x 150 g ball of fresh mozzarella ( 1 x 8oz ball) torn or sliced into pieces
- 30 g / ⅓ of a cup of finely grated veggie parmesan + more for serving
- ½ tsp sea salt divided into two equal portions
- ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- Fresh basil leaves for serving
- Preheat the oven to 220C /200 fan /392F Add the oil to a large ovenproof sauté pan.Add the chopped onion with ¼ teaspoon of sea salt and cook for 10 minutes. Once the onion is translucent add the chopped carrot, celery, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, half a level tablespoon of fennel seeds and a small pinch of red chilli flakes.Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- If you're using the wine add it now. Make sure the pan is hot enough so that the wine sizzles when it hits the pan. Turn up the heat to cook off some of the alcohol.
- Once the wine has reduced quite a bit add the chopped red pepper cook for a minute or two then pour in one can of chopped tomatoes, pour ¼ of a cup of water into the empty can give t a little swirl then add that to the pan too.At the same time add 1 heaped tablespoon of tomato puree, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce the remaining salt and the cracked black pepper. Stir well and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the sauce is thick.
- Now add the lentils and the vegetable stock. Stir well and check the seasoning now.Add the gnocchi to the pan and stir it into the sauce making sure it is covered in sauce.
- Spread the mozzarella and veggie parmesan over the top of the sauce and gnocchi then cover the pan loosely with tin foil.Put the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the mozzarella is golden and the sauce is thick.Leave to cool slightly before serving.Serve with extra grated veggie parmesan and some fresh basil leaves.
- Gnocchi - I used store-bought fresh gnocchi, you can use the vacuum-packed gnocchi too if you prefer.
- Lentils - Puy lentils are best for this recipe. I used pre-cooked lentils.
- Wine - This is optional, but it does add great depth to the bolognese. If you are serving this to young children or pregnant women I would omit it.
- Chilli flakes - also optional, I like a little bit of heat in my bolognese but if you prefer you can omit it and it will still taste great.
- Stock - I made my stock with 1 vegetable stock cube and 200 ml of boiling water.
- Pan - You will need an oven-proof pan or skillet to make this. My pan measures in at 25cm/10inches wide and 6 cm/2.5 inches deep. If you want to use a cast-iron skillet make sure it is well seasoned before making this dish, the tomato sauce will damage it if it's not well seasoned.
- Freezing/storing/reheating - This dish is really best made fresh and eaten on when made. You can freeze it though if you wish. Don't add the cheese, leave the dish to cool then freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost the dish in the fridge overnight then pop place in a preheated oven and cook until piping hot. Add the cheese and place under the grill to brown the cheese. Leftover can be stored in the fridge for 2 - 3 days and for best results reheat in the oven.
- Recipe Inspiration - This recipe was inspired by this recipe by Half Baked Harvest.
- Nutritional Information - is approximate and is calculated using an online nutrition tool. It is based on one serving of 4. It does not include any extra cheese for serving.
- For US readers - I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy. For best results, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible.