#FreedomFood:  Recipes to Make Your Life Easier

PHS columnist, Vanessa North, brings us one of those go to recipes which make life that little bit easier when you're rushed off your feet or facing a tight deadline: her Gnocchi Meatball Bake

The first thing I tell everyone about this recipe is “it’s so good!” and the second thing I tell them is “it’s so easy!”

Basically, this is a recipe you can make as simple or as complicated as you like—you can use pre-packaged gnocchi or make your own from scratch. You can use your grandma’s top secret meatball recipe—or the frozen ones from the grocery. You can roast tomatoes to make the sauce, like I do, or you can totally skip that step and use jarred sauce. Adapt it to your own budget and time constraints—you cannot do it wrong. One thing I enjoy most about this recipe is the large blocks of baking time give me plenty of time to do other things while dinner is in the oven—but I can also shorten it if I need to get supper on the table in a hurry..

What you need:

1 package gnocchi (or home made from 2-3 large, starchy potatoes like russets)

12 italian-style meatballs (made from scratch or pre-packaged)

Fresh basil

Either tomato sauce or enough cherry or other miniature tomatoes to cover the bottom of a casserole dish (if you go the fresh tomato route, it’s good to have a little tomato paste and maybe some stock or water on hand in case you need more liquid.)

A ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped or torn into small pieces, or a small package of fresh mozzarella pearls.


1) Heat your oven to 375˚F (if using sauce instead of whole tomatoes, skip the next two steps)

2) Put the tomatoes, whole, in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

3) Cook for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes start to wrinkle and split

4) Add the meatballs to the pan and return to the oven for 30 more minutes

5) If using sauce, add now, along with the basil. If you roasted the tomatoes, use a fork to carefully mash them up, stirring them together with any liquid on the bottom of the pan. If you need to, add some stock and some tomato paste to make it a more sauce-like consistency.

6) Add gnocchi to the pan—the liquid should come up about halfway on the gnocchi. Add a little more stock if you need to.

7) Add mozzarella on top of the gnocchi.

8) Put the whole thing back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes and pull it out when the top is starting to brown and bubble.

9) Enjoy!​

Do you have the perfect recipe for making busy lives easier? Share your #FreedomFood recipes with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Vanessa's latest book, Summer Stock, is out now. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website, or follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

#FreedomFood #cooking #VanessaNorth #GnocchiMeatballBake #Recipes #Gnocchi #Meatballs #Mozzerella #SummerStock

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