When it comes to weeknight cooking, it’s all about compromise. Most of us don’t have the time (or mental stamina) to make each and every element from scratch, so smart shortcuts are the name of the game. By choosing one ready-made item (rotisserie chicken or canned beans, for example), you can spend the time saved focusing on the effort and ingredients needed for other pieces of the puzzle.
Making gnocchi from scratch is actually surprisingly simple, but it does take quite a bit of time, ruling it out for the average weeknight dinner (though when you do have time, we highly recommend you try this recipe). Luckily, multiple types of premade gnocchi, from refrigerated to frozen to shelf-stable, are readily available at most supermarkets. We opt for the vacuum-packed shelf-stable version in this weeknight recipe because its slightly drier texture helps the exterior get extra crispy when browned in a skillet.
With no need for boiling potatoes and kneading and resting dough like when you’re making fresh gnocchi, this recipe takes advantage of the extra time to focus on a creamy tomato sauce. We keep it simple, turning to the requisite olive oil, onion, garlic, crushed tomatoes, and a finishing splash of heavy cream.
The final touch of this cozy, comforting dish is mixing the sauce and gnocchi together in a baking dish, topping it with a (generous) layer of grated Parmesan, and popping it in the oven until it turns melty and golden brown. This is where the vacuum-packed gnocchi makes its final play–even when baked, it maintains that pleasant crisp exterior.
“It’s super tender throughout, with a little bit of that crunchy browned exterior when you bite into it,” Ashley says. “The creamy sauce is just luxury.”