The 3-Ingredient, 20-Minute Dinner That’s Good Enough to Serve to Guests

published Sep 2, 2022
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Photograph of skillet gnocchi lasagna.
Credit: Grace Elkus

Ever since Kitchn introduced me to crispy, no-boil gnocchi, I’ve had fun trying out all sorts of preparations. In the winter I roast it with squash and plant-based sausage. In the summer I thread it onto skewers and cook it on the grill. And in the fall, I crisp it in a skillet alongside Brussels sprouts and brown butter.  

My current favorite variation might be the easiest of them all: a one-pan, 20-minute, three-ingredient gnocchi “lasagna.” You can make it with or without meat, bulk it up with veggies, and use any type of gnocchi you like (although I think it’s worth trying with cauliflower gnocchi, as directed). In all honesty, it’s nothing like lasagna, but it’s perfect in its own right: soft and chewy gnocchi blanketed with warm marinara sauce and covered with melty cheese. Once it’s in your repertoire, you’re bound to make it on repeat. 

Get the recipe: Skillet Gnocchi Lasagna

Why I Love This Skillet Gnocchi Lasagna

It’s rare that my last-minute, back-pocket, emergency dinner recipe is also the one I serve to discerning guests, but that’s exactly what this recipe is. It provides all the comfort of a classic baked pasta dish, and yet it’s lighter, far easier, and barely dirties any dishes. Let me walk you through it. 

If you skip the ground turkey like I do, your first step is to add the gnocchi to a skillet, crank up the heat, and leave it alone. Cooking the gnocchi undisturbed allows them to get golden-brown and crisp, and frees you up to measure the marinara and grate the cheese. The gnocchi won’t stay this crispy once you add the sauce, but they’ll hold their shape and have much more flavor than anything you’d get from boiling. 

Once all sides are crispy, you’ll add the marinara sauce and simmer over low heat. At this point, I like to season the dish with Italian seasoning or dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. This is also a great time to add a cup or two of frozen veggies. Lately, I’ve been crushing on the Tattooed Chef’s Organic Greens 5, which is a mix of seasoned zucchini, broccoli, haricots verts, peas, and leeks. No need to thaw it first — just stir it into the sauce and it will heat alongside the gnocchi. 

The last step is adding the cheese. I buy a block of whole-milk, part-skim mozzarella and grate it myself, then sprinkle it onto the gnocchi and cover the skillet until the cheese melts. If your skillet is oven-safe, you could pop it under the broiler to get a browned, crispy topping. Finish with fresh basil, if you have some, then dig in! Just don’t expect it to serve four people. In my house, this dish barely serves two.  

Credit: Grace Elkus
Credit: Grace Elkus

Tips for Skillet Gnocchi Lasagna 

  1. Crisp the gnocchi for at least 6 minutes. Every stovetop is different, but it always takes my gnocchi at least 6 minutes before it’s ready to flip. 
  2. Use your favorite marinara sauce. Because this recipe contains so few ingredients, it’s worth it to use a marinara sauce you really love. The recipe developer recommends Rao’s, and I always follow suit — I could eat that sauce straight from the jar. 
  3. Serve with crusty bread. I find this dish pretty filling even without the ground turkey, but I’ll never say no to sides. Crusty bread is great for mopping up the sauce, but if you’re keeping things gluten-free, try a simple green salad tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.

Get the recipe: Skillet Gnocchi Lasagna

This post was originally published on Kitchn. Read it there: The 3-Ingredient, 20-Minute Dinner That Never Leaves My Rotation