One-pan vegetable gnocchi bake: a quick and easy vegetarian sheet pan dinner with zucchini, tomatoes, ricotta, and gnocchi.
There is a farmer’s market in my neighbourhood that runs from mid-August until mid-October. The growing season in Sweden is short, so the offerings can be a bit sparse at the beginning and the end, but right now it is booming.
I have a love / hate relationship with our farmer’s market. It’s in a long and narrow space and is quickly crowded with everyone and their strollers and their dogs pushing and shoving to get at the organic kale. My goal is always to get there right when it opens, hit a few stands in the back where I know it’ll be less crowded, and get the hell out as quickly as I can.
This means I’m often buying frantically, without any real plan in mind for the produce I’m loading into my stroller (yes, I’m totally one of those jerks I just complained about). But the lack of plan hardly matters when you’ve got produce this good. Will you look at those colours?!
When the tomatoes are good we’ll often make a simple tomato and mozzarella salad for dinner. If there is corn we’ll steam it up and gnaw on buttery cobs. Carrots get seared and tossed with honey and ginger. Green and yellow beans get roasted, salted, and eaten while still blisteringly hot.
And then there is this: a vegetarian sheet pan dinner that could not be more straightforward. I learned this technique from my sister, Emily, who first came across the recipe in her vegetable delivery box and has had it on repeat ever since. It is glorious in its simplicity; whatever veg you have on hand get tossed into a pan with a packet of gnocchi, a good glug of olive oil, and some briny capers or olives (I’m a caper girl, personally).
Once the vegetables are half way through their roasting they get a bit of a toss, and then ricotta is dotted over the top to bake up into golden domes of creamy goodness. And you don’t even need to boil the gnocchi first. Just in it goes, and off it bakes, soaking up the flavourful vegetable juices along the way.
I fed that missing scoop to my toddler; he threw it on the floor.
What I love about this dish is how endlessly adaptable it is. Here I’ve used my late summer farmer’s market bounty; a whole pint of cherry tomatoes, yellow and green zucchini, red and yellow peppers, and red onion. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t toss in whole cloves of garlic, handfuls of baby greens, cubes of eggplant, or whatever else you’ve got on hand.
This is one of those ridiculously simple dinners that takes 10 minutes to throw together before you chuck the whole thing into the oven, and then the rest of it is blissfully hands-off while it slumps into a rich, satisfying, and downright elegant meal.
Zucchini is a starchy summer squash that not only provides a good amount of dietary fiber (2.5 grams per cup), but it also provides polysaccharide fibers like pectin that have special benefits for blood sugar regulation. Zucchini is a very strong source of key antioxidant nutrients, including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
Since the skin of this food is particularly antioxidant-rich, it’s worth leaving the skin intact. The fat in zucchini’s edible seeds includes omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid), making it a heart healthy choice. Zucchini is a very good source of vitamin C, magnesium, dietary fiber, phosphorus, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin K. Additionally, it has a notable amount of vitamin B1, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and protein.
Tomatoes are known for their antioxidant content, notably lycopene – good for your prostates, fellas! Eating tomatoes can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Other antioxidants include vitamin C, and beta carotene. As far as phytonutrients go, tomatoes are top of the charts. They contain flavonoids, carotenoids, and glycosides to name just a few.
Eating tomatoes has been shown to be beneficial for the profile of fats in our bloodstream. Specifically, tomato intake has been linked to reduced total cholesterol, reduced LDL cholesterol, and reduced triglyceride levels. This makes our hearts happy! Tomatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin K, copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E, and phosphorus.
one-pan vegetable gnocchi bake with ricotta
- 1 lb gnocchi 500g
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 small yellow zucchini diced
- 1 medium green zucchini diced
- 1 medium red pepper diced
- 1 medium yellow pepper diced
- 1 medium red onion diced
- 1/4 cup capers drained
- 8 oz ricotta
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.
Chop all of the vegetables into chunks roughly the same size as the gnocchi.
In a large roasting dish or sheet pan, toss the gnocchi, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, onion, and capers together. Add a few good glugs of olive oil, and shake the pan to distribute evenly.
Place into the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are just beginning to brown.
Remove the tray from the oven and give it a stir. Add the ricotta, dropping spoonfuls over the top of the vegetables.
Put the tray back into the oven and roast for another 20 minutes, until the vegetables are saucy and the ricotta is golden brown.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with fresh herbs if desired, and serve immediately.
-If you'd prefer to use olives instead of capers, I recommend 1 cup of Castelvetrano olives. But really any olives you've got on hand will do!
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