Last Minute Dinner: Ricotta Gnocchi with Red Pepper Sauce

I detest grocery shopping. DETEST. It takes FOREVER. It costs SO MUCH. It has so many steps – making a list, driving to the store, finding everything, bringing it home, unloading it, rearranging the refrigerator, shoving it all in there. Ugh, I can’t stand it. I know I’m the whiniest whiner ever, but there it is. Point being, I often have long stretches between trips to the store and end up having to scavenge the pantry to pull dinner together. I recently asked on facebook what some of your go-to pantry meals are and there were so many creative suggestions. I was inspired to try to pull more dinners from the pantry and share some with you. My first one is ricotta gnocchi with red pepper sauce. This requires ricotta which is not so much a pantry staple, but the red pepper sauce is pulled together from a jar and my hubs AND EVEN MY CHILD are total fans. The key thing is that this sauce takes about 5 minutes to make. Maybe you’ll want to add it to your rotation.

Get the recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi with Red Pepper Sauce after the jump. And tell us in the comments, what are your last minute dinner staples? This week’s favorite comment wins that stunning Belle & Blue Chair.

Last Minute Dinner: Ricotta Gnocchi with Red Pepper Sauce

First we make the gnocchi. Much like marshmallows, this is one of those things that seems really difficult to do, but is actually very simple. Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean.

Ricotta Gnocchi
Combine all of these ingredients in a bowl:
3/4 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 container of ricotta cheese (16 ounces)

If it’s really sticky, add tablespoons of flour. It should be a little sticky, but not gooey. Refrigerate it for about 20 minutes, until it’s more workable. Break it into 4 pieces and roll each one out into a tube shape about 3/4″ thick. Use a sharp knife to cut it into one inch pieces. At this point you can freeze some if you want by laying it on a sheet and sticking it in the freezer until it’s frozen, then removing and placing in a ziploc. Boil salted water and cook the gnocchi until they bob to the surface, then for another few minutes. See, EASY!

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Finely dice one small onion. Saute in a few tablespoons of olive oil until the onions are translucent, then add three cloves of garlic (passed through a garlic press or diced) and saute for another 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant. Take about 3 full roasted red peppers from a jar and place all of these ingredients into a food processor to blend, or pulse with an immersion blender. Stir in 1/2 cup of cream and salt to taste. Pour over pasta. If you have parsley in your garden, sprinkle some on top. EASY.


What do you think? Easy enough? Let us know if you try it.



Alison C

I've never made gnocchi before – always thought it'd be terribly hard but you have just about convinced me that its not. And you say children eat it? Mine are pretty fussy but what the… I think I'll give it a go!

Sew on and Sew on

I try and always keep artichoke hearts, spinach and tomatoes on hand. There are so many things you can make from those three. One of our favs is pasta with chicken and those three ingredients. You can also make a mean omelette with the spinach and tomatoes.


Bean burritos are a go-to meal around here. It was miserable because my entire pregnancy (baby is 1 week old) that was one smell that would send me running for the toilet. Really made our meals change.


I always have eggs and tortillas on hand. Stir fry onions/peppers/whatever veggie you like, toss in the eggs scramble up a bit and either put little dots of cream cheese or sprinkle on some grated cheese. Then make an egg burrito. The children love this and, it can be satisfying enough for the husband to eat, after a long day working outside, if I throw in any leftover meat (ham, chicken, chili). Works for me and is eaten at least once a week.


I'm totally in the minority here, but I have always LOVED grocery shopping (provided that I am not on a time constraint..) and my daughter (15 months) now loves to go as well! My husband has been joking for years that I should find a way to capitalize on this and grocery shop for others or something..

Anyway, your recipe looks fantastic and I can't wait to try it!


I LOVE Gnocchi! This does look pretty simple, I can't wait to try it! I, like you, can't stand grocery shopping either.


YUM! This looks fantastic! I happen to LOVE grocery shopping. It's seriously the highlight of my week 🙂 I feel a strange sense of power over my household when I go and pick out our food 🙂


My "go to" meal is Marvelous Mini Meatloaves which you can find at with all the variations. Our favorite is the italian. One pound ground meat, 1 cup water, 1 tsp. italian seasoning, and one box stuffing mix. Mix and put into your muffin pan. Top with spaghetti sauce. Cook at 375 for 30 min. In the last 5 minutes add mozz cheese. THis one has left overs only if I put a couple back before we eat. Put it together in 5 minutes!!! We LOVE it!


Pasta carbonara is my "go to" meal using pantry and freezer items. I always have thick bacon and grated parmesan cheese in the deep freeze. First I saute some of bacon (a few slices that I've cut into 1/2" pieces) and some chopped garlic in a little bit of olive oil. Keep your eye on it so the garlic doesn't burn. While that's cookin' I mix a few eggs with the cheese in a small bowl and chop some parsley. The pasta is on the stove boiling away. When it's done I strain it, but reserve a bit of the water. The drained pasta goes right into the pan with the bacon and garlic, which should be taken off the stove. Then I add the egg/cheese mixture, toss and add the parsley, some ground pepper and some of the reserved pasta water to thin it just a bit. Yummy. Easy. And, no need for the usual pancetta that most recipes call for. It's expensive and no one in my family can tell the difference.


wow, you just made making gnocchi seem easy, I have no excuse not to try it now. Oh, and I COMPLETELY understand the hatred for grocery shopping. Total ick.


Yum – that looks so good. I may go with the packaged gnocchi from Trader Joe's tho… as easy as you make it seem.

My staples are canned garbanzo beans and green chiles. This is 10 mins – one pan.
Sauteed Swiss Chard and Chickpeas
2 t olive
1/2 t ground cumin
2 t butter (optional)
1 T chopped green chiles
1 garlic clove
1 bunch swiss chard, cleaned and chopped (separate the stems and leaves but include both)
One 19-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained (can also use dried beans and cook them first)
1/2 t ground ginger
3/4 t garam masala
Heat the oil and butter until bubbling nearly subsides and butter is melted. Add cumin, cook just until fragrant (10-15 seconds). Add chiles and garlic, cook, stirring constantly until garlic is lightly browned (30-45 seconds).

Add chard stems, chick peas, and 1/4 cup of water, cook stirring gently until stems are softened and most of the liquid is evaporated (3-4 minutes). Stirn in chard leaves, ginger, and another 1/4 cup of water. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring as needed, until the greens are just tender, 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle with garam masala; cook uncovered, stirring gently, until the remaining liquid is absorbed, 1-2 minutes.

166 calories, 6 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 157 mg sodium, 7 g fiber 8 g protien, 20 g carbohydrate, 97 mg calcium


Can I just say WORD. I haaate grocery shopping too and I always feel ridiculous for saying so.

I always thought gnocchi were made with potato flour. Am I crazy?

I always stock rice, dried beans, pasta, eggs, tofu, cheese, and veggies– I can make a ton of things like frittata, pisto manchego, fried rice, burritos, and lots of kinds of pasta toppings.


Our go-to meal is "Breakfast for Dinner" ~ omelet, frittata, pancakes, french toast, smoothies …the 'real' foods (no cereal here!) ~ basically, do you have eggs? We have even made it a fun tradition on Sundays!
As far as the shopping, I'm kinda a fan…daily farmer's markets island-wide or Mana Foods (hello, I live in Maui) and I have the most amazing setup on my bike… basket in the front and huge basket in the back! Dinner for five by pedal power!
But I definitely don't like putting it all away!!


My go-to meal is usually shrimp risotto. I always have frozen shrimp in the freezer and arborio rice in the pantry. And I, of coarse, always have some type of white wine around the house! A few other ingredients and BAM- a delicious one pot meal.


This looks amazing! I made a pumpkin gnocchi before, which was also amazingly simple. Served with browned butter with sage and some parmesan, and I was a happy gal.

I have to admit I also love grocery shopping, although since we just had our second daughter, the trips are not going to be as easy any longer since the kids outnumber me :o)

My pantry staple is curry and rice – my favorite is massaman curry. A couple of teaspoons of curry paste, mixed in with a can of coconut milk, a couple of sweet potatoes, a can of pineapple, some chicken, and a handful of peanuts make a dinner that can be ready pretty quickly.


My favorite last minute meal is breakfast for dinner. Black beans, cheese and scrambled eggs in a tortilla with some salsa on top.


I have to try this!

My staple is anything pizza. I have always have pizza sauce, cheese, various veggies/meats for toppings and some type of "crust" in the fridge. If I have pizza dough in the fridge, we have pizza or stromboli; but if I only have bread we have grilled "pizzas."


I tried this with some basil pesto I had in the fridge and it was amazing! My kids didn't go for it, but I loved it. I also love that there's a tone left in the freezer for me another day.

Meg Ring

We love doing quick bean burritos.. always easy when you can have tortillas and beans on hand at pretty much any given moment in our household! We also do a taco soup from canned ingredients/ground beef (good for church nights) (2 cans beans/green peppers/tomatoes/corn/packet of taco seasoning and ranch seasoning & browned ground beef), but this recipe looks super simple, and it's far easier to go run to the store for one 16oz jar of Ricotta Cheese than for a whole meal of ingredients. I think I may try this one! Thanks! 🙂


A pan-seared chicken with a quick pan sauce and a vegetable is my cheat-meal. And I second your distaste for grocery shopping! Ugh, what a bore/hassle/annoying drudgery. I recently rearranged some things so I went every two weeks instead of every week, and I find it is slightly less of a dread. Same amount of time, I just grab double of everything I usually get. And being that I'm a tiny bit of a nutrition freak, I feel I must always do the shopping so my husband doesn't receive the disgusted look from me should he get the wrong item.


Thank you for this! I tried it tonight and it was delicious – both my 2 and 4 year olds ate it up (without the sauce) and my husband and I enjoyed both the sauce and the gnocchi. I never would have tried this but you promised it would be easy and it sure was! (I did have to add significantly more flour, maybe my ricotta was watery…)


OMG I also loath the grocery store! I like to challenge myself to see how long I can avoid going by making pantry dinners. Three weeks is my max so far but maybe I can get up to a whole month.


I tried it last night and my gnocci were mushy. Maybe I didn't boil them long enough? It was ok. Would have been better if the gnocci weren't as mushy.

Ashley L

Fluffy Puff, Air Puff, Gnocchi Delights (Homestar Runner for those of you that think I am crazy)!!!

I tried this recipe last night and it was a hit with the whole family. My 3 year old asked, "When will clouds be on the menu again?" 🙂 And not only was it delicious, it was inexpensive and very filling.

Thanks for sharing!


You almost lost me at "finely dice an onion", "chill for 20 minutes" and "food processor", but something made me try it anyway. You were right – so good!! And not really so hard – managed to get it done with a 2 y.o. and 3 y.o under foot.

Alison C

Woo hoo! Well I posted earlier that I was going to try this and I thought I'd let you know that I did and not only was it a success but the kids also helped to make it. We had a lovely time in the kitchen and then eating the fruits of their labour! Tea-time is normally such a struggle with 3 children with very different tastes and appetites but this was great – will definitely do again. Love ya Prudent Baby!


I boiled mine for a several minutes after the floating stage and many of them really fell apart and became mush. Where did I go wrong? I feel like I should have added a touch more flour and maybe refrigerated until they were pretty solid. However the taste was fantastic (I used jarred sauce from Whole Foods) and even my 4 year old who eats NOTHING ate like three of them. Yay!


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