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Best of both seasons in sheet-pan meal

Recipe: Butternut squash plus tomatoes plus gnocchi for the win

Potato gnocchi roasted with vegetables and sausage makes an easy one-pan meal.

Potato gnocchi roasted with vegetables and sausage makes an easy one-pan meal. Kathy Morrison

So it’s cool enough to cook dinner in the oven, but still nice enough that I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. Garden things to do outside, you know.

The solution: A sheet-pan meal, in which all the ingredients roast together in the oven.

This dish is a riff on a recipe from thekitchn.com. Substitutions are easy: I had Juliet tomatoes but no mushrooms, so into the pan they went. Broccoli cut small would work or green beans or whatever, but don’t forget to include onions.

Gnocchi cooked in the oven is far superior in flavor and texture to boiled gnocchi. It puffs up and gets just a bit crispy – delightful.

Sheet pan gnocchi with vegetables and sausage

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Bowl of gnocchi with red onion half, several small tomatoes and a butternut squash
The tomatoes are optional.

1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks

1 small or ½ large red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks

8 ounces mushrooms, quartered, or 8-12 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes 

1 package (1 pound or more) shelf-stable potato gnocchi

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

8 to 16 ounces uncooked hot or sweet Italian sausage, in casings or bulk

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions:

Arrange two oven racks to split the oven into thirds. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

On a large rimmed baking pan, combine the butternut chunks, the onion and the mushrooms or tomatoes (or use both!). Sprinkle the rosemary over the vegetables, and add the gnocchi to the pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the pan, then sprinkle with about ½ teaspoon of salt and grinding of black pepper. Toss to coat. 

Remove the sausage from its casings and drop bite-size chunks of it all over the vegetables and gnocchi.

Gnocchi and veggies on sheet pan
Gnocchi and veggies are the first layer.

Place the sheet pan on the lower rack of the oven. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring after about 15 minutes. The sausage should be cooked through, the gnocchi plumped and the butternut chunks tender.

Move the sheet pan to the upper rack and broil on High until the gnocchi are lightly brown and crisp. This happens quickly, about 3 minutes, so don’t walk away.

Serve in large bowls and topped with grated Parmesan, if desired. A salad and a glass of zinfandel are perfect accompaniments.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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