salt & pepperto taste (I use ¾ teaspoon salt and a few pinches of pepper)
1(15-oz) can tomato sauce
1(15-oz) candiced tomatoesNOT drained
½cupgrated parmesan cheese
1cupshredded mozzarella cheese
Prep: Preheat oven to 400°F and lightly grease a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
Sauté vegetables: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes.
Cook beef: Add beef and all seasoning. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often to break up beef, until browned and crumbly. Take off the heat.
Assemble casserole: Add both tomatoes and gnocchi to skillet and stir well. Spread in prepared casserole dish. Top with parmesan cheese, then with mozzarella cheese.
Bake: Bake casserole in hot oven for 25-30 minutes, until bake is bubbly and cheese has melted. Let sit on counter for 5 minutes before serving.
Carrot/onion/celery: These are basically all optional, but they do add some greens to the plate and flavor to the sauce. This is the classic trio used in actual bolognese sauce, so they work really well in this casserole. If you don’t like one of these or just don’t have the time to prep them; feel free to skip one, two or all three.
Tomato sauce/diced tomatoes: I use plain, unseasoned tomato sauce and diced tomatoes because I add seasoning and vegetables myself. If you’re short on time, feel free to use two jars of marinara or other seasoned pasta sauce instead. That way, you can skip the seasoning the recipe calls for and won’t miss any flavor if you’re skipping the vegetables.
Ground beef: I used lean ground beef, but extra-lean works, too. For fattier ground beef, I recommend draining the fat after browning it. Ground turkey works as well for a leaner version.
Make sure to fully cook the onion in the first step, otherwise the whole casserole will taste of raw onion.
Combine the gnocchi, tomatoes and beef/vegetable mix well. You need to smother all of the gnocchi in the sauce, otherwise they will not soften during baking.
Fresh basil and/or fresh parsley are delicious both in the casserole filling and sprinkled on top for serving. It’s perfectly fine to skip them though, we don’t keep fresh herbs around all of the time either and I make this without the herbs plenty of nights. But I will say that especially fresh basil makes this dish extra special.