Look, I’m the first to yell about how SEO has ruined food blogging and I know we probably don’t say “sheet pan” in New Zealand, but sometimes you have to dance with the enemy in order to steal their jewels, and so this recipe is called Sheet Pan Gnocchi Puttanesca in the hopes that capitulating to Big Algorithm delivers me some sweet, sweet optimisation. That modern ugliness aside, what this recipe will undoubtedly deliver you is a delicious, hands-off dinner in little more than half an hour.
We all know what “puttanesca” means (or at least, we know what it translates to, quite what it’s driving at seems to be mildly contentious) and as a pasta sauce it’s usually found wound around long strands of spaghetti and made in a frying pan; here I’ve leaned into the slatternish element of its name by taking almost all effort out of the equation. Just throw some ingredients in a baking tray and shunt it in the oven and that’s it. I give the gnocchi a slight head start on its own — normally when I’m frying gnocchi I add a splash of water or cover the pan (or both) so it steams and crisps up at the same time, and I’ve transferred that method to this recipe. The gnocchi starts off in a shallow bath of stock and olive oil, emerging tender but with a little roasty bite to its surface.
The puttanesca sauce is a riot of salty, well-preserved intensity — meaty shreds of green olive, tiny morsel-ish capers, fiery chilli flakes. I added some roughly chopped pecans in the hopes their smokiness would play well with the other ingredients (it did) and you don’t need me to tell you that if there’s a tin of anchovies in your possession, they absolutely belong here. The joy of this sauce is that, aside from the parsley, it’s made up of ingredients that have a long shelf life, and so once you’re stocked up you can have it cooking away with very little notice at any time of day or night. The supple gnocchi provide the pillows against which this sauce reclines, and the contrast between squishy, dumpling-y pasta and spicy, high-kicking sauce makes a creditable case for their pairing.
Although this recipe is at its most pantry-standby-ish and low-effort with a package of bought gnocchi, if you feel like making this more effortful (but — to be fair — only just) there’s always my recipe for Instant Homemade Gnocchi; I’ve never tried roasting it but I’m sure it wouldn’t fail. There’s also nothing stopping you from panfrying the gnocchi dough and then adding the sauce ingredients from this recipe to the pan afterwards. And if you’re looking for other recipes that you can just throw into the oven you could try my Green Garlic Oyster Mushrooms, my Oven-baked Pearl Couscous with Pumpkin, Sundried Tomatoes, and Feta, or my Forty Cloves of Garlic with Potatoes and Artichoke Hearts.
Sheet Pan Gnocchi Puttanesca
This couldn’t be easier — just tip your ingredients onto a baking tray, shove it in the oven for a while, and there’s your dinner (admittedly the gnocchi is baked on its own for a bit first, but I think we can still call this easy). The sauce is punched up with olives, capers, and chilli — play around with quantities to suit your tastes. Recipe by myself.
- 500g package gnocchi
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for serving
- 125ml (1/2 cup) chicken stock
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup pitted green olives
- 1/4 cup pecans or walnuts
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (I used gochugaru)
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup curly parsley, or as much as you want
1: Set your oven to 200C/400F. Tumble your gnocchi onto a sheet pan (aka a wide, shallow baking tray) separating them out into one layer. Drizzle over the tablespoon of olive oil and pour over the half cup of chicken stock, and then bake the gnocchi for ten minutes. This step helps to cook through the gnocchi, effectively both steaming and frying them, so they’ll be tender with a little bite when you add the sauce ingredients.
2: Remove the sheet pan from the oven and tip in the tin of chopped tomatoes, the two tablespoons of tomato paste, and the tablespoon of capers. Roughly chop the two garlic cloves, the 1/3 cup of pitted olives, and the 1/4 cup of pecans — though you want the nuts and garlic chopped more finely than the olives — and tip all that into the gnocchi as well, along with the half teaspoon of chilli flakes. Fill the now-empty tomato tin with water, swish it around, and pour it into the sheet pan. Stir briefly to disperse the ingredients, then return the gnocchi to the oven for another 15 – 20 minutes, by which point the sauce should be bubbling and reduced down a little. If it’s looking too dry, add another splash of water.
3: Taste to see if it needs extra salt or a pinch more chilli. Drizzle over a little more olive oil — about a teaspoon or so — then roughly chop the 1/2 cup of parsley and scatter it over the gnocchi.
Serves 2-3, or 4 with other side dishes.
- I used a full stock cube with 125ml water to make up the chicken stock required, figuring that the added tomatoes and water would dilute the saltiness. I was correct, so feel free to do the same.
- Anchovies are an expected ingredient here so if you’ve got ’em, throw ’em in.
Secondo Coro Delle Lavandaie by Roberto De Simone, this song goes SO hard. However hard you’re thinking, no, it’s even more than that.
Forever Close My Eyes by Dälek, this is the kind of pulse-rushingly, lung-fillingly lush song you can catch a ride on all the way up to the stars.
Invalid Litter Dept. by At The Drive In, the sort of music you should first hear age fifteen, or at least it worked for me then but! — still does, with its billowing emotion and bruising oratory and scattershot guitars; I also in all sincerity recommend their performance of One-Armed Scissor on Jools Holland, it is fantastically shambolic and chaotic and both the worst and best imaginable introductions to that song.
Side By Side by Adrian Lester and the 1996 Donmar Warehouse company of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company; this might just be my favourite rendition of my favourite Sondheim musical. Lester is magnificent as Bobby — charismatically isolated, passive and reactive, and look, what’s a more fitting addition to the scene, for a musical from 1970, to have this already-manic number a little more artificially-fuelled than usual?
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