Everything you love about caprese comes together with store-bought gnocchi in this super simple sheet pan dinner. This easy, vegetarian recipe can be served as a light main or side dish and requires no prep whatsoever!
The weekend flew by but it was lovely, low key and lovely. The chaos of soccer season is REAL but when I can separate the chaos from the joy, watching my girls play soccer truly brings me joy. They love it and they are building skills both as a player AND as a teammate, and it’s a beautiful thing. We were also able to enjoy playing hookie from church so that I could binge read in the beautiful fall morning weather before heading out to boat in the summery afternoon weather. Fall is seriously the best! Mark even moved the TV from our bedroom to our screened in back porch because I was wanting to watch the Illini game on Saturday…but didn’t want to be inside. And that was before we had our first date night in nearly 6 months, whaaaat?
Alas, the weekly grind is back and per usual, it’s a busy one. I’ve got easy meals on the docket and there’s never a time a quick, incredibly sheet pan meal isn’t the right choice. This one is full of simple ingredients and Caprese flavors that comes together in a flash!
ROLL CALL FOR THIS RECIPE
- Weeknight Warriors: This Caprese gnocchi sheet pan meal makes for a delicious dinner, but also a quick dinner — on the table in 30 minutes!
- Caprese Lovers: Fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, and basil is the Caprese trifecta of ingredients in the ever-popular Italian salad. It’s classic, healthy, and delicious.
- Sheet Pan Meals: No fuss here, sheet pan dinners to the rescue! Simply throw everything on a large sheet pan and off you go! Meals that require this little clean-up are ever-popular with good reason!
- Vegetarian: Juice tomatoes and tender potato dumplings combine with nutty, rich pesto and creamy, gooey cheese to make any vegetarian rejoice!
KEY INGREDIENTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Gnocchi: These potato-based dumplings are not stuffed and have a fun chewy interior. They are typically boiled before serving, however this recipe skips that step making it quick and easy. Potato gnocchi is commonly found in the shelf-stable aisles of the grocery store near the pasta. Most varieties are NOT gluten-free, however gluten-free versions are readily available.
- Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes work great here. Halved or quartered tomatoes can work in a pinch, but the result is a little wet. Feel free to use a variety of tomatoes or a variety of colors.
- Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is an excellent choice for its antioxidants and monounsaturated fat content, in addition to its delicious, rich flavor, however avocado or another high spoke point oil will work.
- Balsamic Vinegar: Use a high quality balsamic vinegar that is thick and syrupy, more like a balsamic glaze, if you have it available! Alternatively, you can reduce balsamic vinegar to create an improved flavor profile.
- Salt and Black Pepper: This little bit of salt helps cut the acid and brings out the sweetness of the vinegar and tomatoes. Use more or less to your liking, along with a few grinds of pepper.
- Mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella is commonly sold in mozzarella logs, mozzarella balls, or mozzarella pearls. You can substitute in shredded mozzarella if needed.
- Pesto: This olive oil, garlic, and basil-based ingredient is rich and flavorful, and good for you, too! You can find basil pesto in most major retailers near the pasta sauce, or make your own – it’s simple to do (recipes below!).
What is the difference between fresh mozzarella and shredded mozzarella?
Fresh mozzarella is stored in a brine and provides a higher water content. When melted, it creates gooey, tender layer that is milder in flavor than shredded mozzarella which is often aged cheese and when purchased pre-shredded, has been combined some type of additive, often potato starch, to keep the cheese from clumping.
How can you reduce balsamic vinegar?
Simply place enough vinegar in the bottom of a small sauce pan to coat the bottom, or more if you want or need it. Bring to a simmer and stir often, cooking until the vinegar is thickened and the volume is reduced by half. Any unused balsamic reduction can be cooled and covered before being stored in the refrigerator for at least 3 months.
How do you make pesto?
Combine olive oil, nuts or seeds, Parmesan cheese, tons of fresh basil, and garlic to a food processor and process until smooth! The portions depend on your personal preference and you can easily adjust by streaming the olive oil in the top of the food processor and stopping several times to assess. Traditional pesto uses pine nuts and often a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt to bring out all of the flavors. However, you can use herbs other than pesto or other greens such as arugula. I would recommend trying Basil Pesto with Pine Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, and Lemon or Arugula-Basil Pesto.
- This meal is rich in unsaturated fats and adheres to a Mediterranean lifestyle
- Potato gnocchi are easily found in gluten-free varieties which would make this recipe gluten-free
- Vegetarian as-prepared
VARIATIONS, STORAGE, and TIPS
- Finish this recipe with a few fresh basil leaves or other fresh herbs for a beautiful final touch. For a hint of spice a shake of crushed red pepper flakes before or after roasting is a fun touch.
- Because pesto contains quite a bit of garlic, especially how I make it, I don’t add additional minced garlic to this recipe. That said, add away along with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar before roasting. Note: garlic can burn and become bitter at a high temperature (above 350-375 degrees F).
- Place the sheet pan in the center of the oven or even the lower half of an oven to avoid getting the gnocchi too golden brown where they can turn tough and firm.
- Serve this lighter fare meal with a slice of crusty bread or a beautiful tossed green salad with a heart-healthy vinaigrette dressing
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- 1 lb potato gnocchi
- 3 cups (2 pints) grape tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 4 oz fresh mozzarella, torn
- 1/4 cup prepared pesto
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place gnocchi, tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper on the prepared baking sheet and toss well to coat. Arrange in a single, even layer.
- Roast for 20-25 minutes; remove from oven.
- Push the tomatoes and gnocchi to the center of the baking sheet; top with mozzarella and drizzle with pesto.
- Roast the gnocchi an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is hot and melted. Serve hot.
Recipe adapted from Love and Lemons
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/4 recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 389Total Fat: 17.5gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 799mgCarbohydrates: 45.0gFiber: 3.3gSugar: 2.5gProtein: 11.8g
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