Chicken, Mushroom & Gnocchi Bake

One evening, I lost track of time and realized at 5 p.m. that I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner. Years ago, I would have simply texted my husband to pick up takeout or we would just go out, but we have been trying to be more frugal with how often we eat out since I became a SAHM and we went down to one income. Considering my husband is a MUCH better cook than I am, it hasn’t been easy.  

As I gazed at the clock turn to 5:10 p.m., I stared at my pantry and my refrigerator, willing them to inspire me.
 
I had a package of gnocchi. I had some fresh mozzarella. I had some leftover roasted chicken. I had leftover raw mushrooms. Hmmmm.
 
I threw together a bunch of ingredients, baked them in small ramekins and the result turned out delicious. Since that night, I made a few changes to the recipe and below is the result. At the end of this post, I have listed a few variations that can be done, depending on what you have in your fridge. 
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 package of gnocchi (I prefer the mini gnocchi for this, smaller bites for my son)
  • 2 to 3 cups of cooked, diced chicken (I cooked three boneless thighs this time, but I have also used a whole chicken breast from a Costco roasted chicken)
  • 3-4 crimini mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • approximately 3/4 cup of pesto sauce 
  • approximately 6 tablespoons of ricotta cheese
  • 3 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste 
 
Directions:
 
Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions. Usually, boil in salted water for about two minutes and drain.
 
 
Chop your chicken and mushrooms. I chop the mushrooms pretty small so my three-year-old will eat them and not try to pick them out.
 
 
Over medium heat, add the olive oil to a pan (I typically use the pot I just cooked my pasta in). Add the garlic and sauté for about one minute. Add the chicken and mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes, constantly stirring to avoid anything from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You are essentially heating everything up and getting the flavors to mix together together. 
 
 
Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. If you want to add any other spices, do it now. Add the cooked gnocchi to the pan and toss everything together.
 

Spoon the mixture evenly between six ramekins or whatever baking dish or dishes you’re planning to use. I use 6 oz ramekins, but I know this will also work in an 8×8 baking dish.
 
 
Spoon the ricotta cheese on top. 
 

Spoon the pesto sauce on top as well. Then tap the ramekins on the counter to try and get the ricotta and pesto sauce to work their way in between the gnocchi.
 

Add a slice of mozzarella cheese to the top. Fresh mozzarella is best, but I have used string cheese in a pinch and it worked out alright. It’s just not as moist.
 
 
Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes or until the tops of the cheese are golden brown and bubbly. If after 15 minutes they aren’t brown enough to your liking, then crank up the broiler and leave them in for a couple more minutes. But keep a close eye on them, they can go from golden brown to burnt very quickly!
 
 

Let them cool for a bit and enjoy. 

 
My husband and I discussed a few variations that we think could be really yummy:
  • use Italian sausage or pancetta instead of chicken
  • use chopped asparagus or artichoke hearts instead of mushrooms
  • add thinly sliced and chopped prosciutto or pancetta
  • add freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top of the mozzarella
  • mix chopped, fresh basil to the mixture
  • use any kind of sauce: marinara, bolognese, arribbiata… any jarred sauce can work too if you don’t have fresh. The first time I made this, I used jarred marinara sauce. I plan to make it again with fresh, homemade marinara once my tomatoes are ripe.
The possibilities are endless really… any ingredients that taste good with gnocchi and cheese will work. The only thing I wouldn’t omit is the ricotta cheese. It really adds a creaminess to the dish that I love. This is a great way to use up some leftovers in the fridge.
 
Bon appetit!
Chicken, Mushroom & Gnocchi Bake

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Ingredients
1 package of gnocchi
2 to 3 cups of cooked, diced chicken
3-4 crimini mushrooms, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
approx 3/4 cup of pesto sauce
approx 6 tablespoons of ricotta cheese
3oz fresh mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions. Usually boil in salted water for about two minutes and drain.
Chop your chicken and mushrooms. I chop the mushrooms pretty small so my 3 year old will eat them and not try to pick them out.
Over medium heat, add the olive oil to a pan (I typically use the pot I just cooked my pasta in). Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the chicken and mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes, constantly stirring to avoid anything from sticking to the bottom of the pan too badly. You are essentially heating everything up and getting the flavors to mix together together.
Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. If you want to add any other spices, do it now. Add the cooked gnocchi to the pan and toss everything together.
Spoon the mixture evenly between 6 ramekins or whatever baking dish or dishes you’re planning to use. I use 6oz ramekins, but I know this will also work in an 8×8 baking dish.
Spoon the ricotta cheese on top.
Spoon the pesto sauce on top as well. Then I tap the ramekins on the counter to try and get the ricotta and pesto sauce to work their way in between the gnocchi.
Add a slice of mozzarella cheese to the top. Fresh mozzarella is best, but I have used string cheese in a pinch and it worked out alright. It’s just not as moist.
Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the tops of the cheese are golden brown and bubbly. If after 10 minutes they aren’t brown enough to your liking, then crank up the broiler and leave them in for a couple more minutes. But keep an eye on them, they can go from golden brown to burnt very quickly!
Let them cool for a bit and enjoy.

Notes
I prefer the mini gnocchi (if you can find it). It’s easier for my son to eat, smaller bites.
For the chicken, you can use a supermarket roasted chicken.

Potential variations
-use Italian sausage or pancetta instead of chicken
-use chopped asparagus or artichoke hearts instead of mushrooms
-add thinly sliced and chopped prosciutto or pancetta
-add freshly grated parmesan cheese on top of the mozzarella
-mix chopped, fresh basil to the mixture
-use any kind of sauce, marinara, bolognese, arribbiata… or any jarred sauce can work too if you don’t have fresh.
-this dish is a great way to use up leftovers!

Mama Say What?! http://www.mamasaywhat.com/

 

9 Responses to Chicken, Mushroom & Gnocchi Bake

  1. Okay, this looks so yummy! You’re making me hungry! I’ve never tried their gnocchi, but I will now!

    Thanks!

  2. Looks so delish!

  3. This looks so delicious! I am going to make it tonight. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. all my favorites things in one dish. yum! i’m going to try this!

  5. What a great recipe! I will be making this for dinner tomorrow!

  6. I’m going to have to try this!

  7. OH MY goodness this looks amazing. Making for dinner tomorrow. THANK You for sharing!!

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  9. Pingback: Hidden Veggie Recipes Mama Say What?! | Mama Say What?!

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