Chicken Pesto Gnocchi Bake

For me, gnocchi brings a little more baggage than little round balls of potato should. They’re riddled with guilt: I know how to make it from scratch, but I almost never do; the husband eats it but doesn’t necessarily love it, so I always feel a little bad for throwing it into the menu plan; I always feel like I bastardise it by creating a mongrel of a recipe with all sorts of random things thrown it.

But, guilt be damned. I don’t have much time in the evenings, and I need easy, filling, budget friendly meals that have some sort of nutrition involved, without eating the same things over and over. Yes, the gnocchi comes from a packet. Yes, husband would probably prefer wheat pasta. Yes, I’m making it up on the fly instead of following a recipe from 5 generations of women who lovingly pass it down from daughter to daughter. But we all do what we can to keep our families fed, right? Despite it’s flaws, this recipe ticks all my boxes, and is tasty, to boot (although it’s just over 500 calories, which is slightly higher than my usual weekday meals – still, better than takeout, right?). Vive la packet pasta!

Serves 4

Ingredients

500g gnocchi

2tsp olive oil

1 brown onion, diced

200g mushrooms, sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

500g chicken breast, diced

70g sundried tomatoes, finely diced

1 medium zucchini, diced

400g tinned tomatoes

190g pesto

3tbs parmesan cheese, grated

50g grated cheddar cheese

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Heat oil in a deep ovenproof frypan over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes until golden. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
  3. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes until browned all over, stirring occasionally. Add sundried tomatoes and zucchini and mix well.
  4. Meanwhile, cook gnocchi in a large saucepan of salted water, to packet instructions. Remove and drain about a minute early.
  5. Stir in tinned tomatoes and pesto, and combine very well.
  6. Remove from heat and sprinkle over both cheeses.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and bubbly.

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Risoni Vegetable Bolognese

I had every intention of making a tomato and meatball soup today, I really did. But when push came to shove, I just could not be bothered rolling meatballs. Besides, right now, the idea of squishing other peoples’ food around in my hands sounds tone deaf, all things considered. But really, I just couldn’t be bothered, let’s be honest.

Instead, I dumped everything in one pot, at the advice of Nagi at Recipe Tin Eats. This isn’t her exact recipe – I upped the veggie intake, and cut back on the risoni a little, but the spirit of her recipe is there. And it’s perfect for those CBF kinds of nights. The whole ordeal took maybe 20 minutes, it’s made on staples/stuff I found in my fridge and cabinets (again, perfect for Corona-geddon), was tasty and comforting, and was gobbled up by everyone. It’s not like usual bolognese recipe, but the benefit of that is that you could pretty much throw anything into it and have it come up a winner. It’s one of those magical recipes. So I’m writing it down so that I don’t forget it!

Nagi’s recipe clocked in at 484 calories; mine is 400. Either way, it’s better than takeaway!

Ingredients

1 brown onion

2 cloves garlic, crushed

200g mushrooms, sliced

500g lean mince

700ml passata

2tbs Worcestershire sauce

3 cups chicken stock

2tsp dried parsley

2tsp dried oregano

1tsp dried thyme

1tsp dried basil

1tsp sweet paprika

cayenne pepper, to taste

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 cup risoni/orzo

60g baby spinach

salt and pepper, to taste

Grated parmesan cheese, to taste

Method

  1. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms to a non stick pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft and golden.
  2. Brown mince with onion mixture, breaking it up as it cooks.
  3. Stir in passata, herbs, Worcestershire sauce, stock and zucchini. Bring to a simmer, add risoni and stir to distribute evenly.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the risoni from sticking to the bottom. As you get closer to the ten minute mark, you may need to stir more frequently.
  5. Take off heat, stir in spinach.
  6. Serve, topped with parmesan and seasoned with salt and pepper.

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