This mouthwatering, EZ PZ, kitchen sink skillet recipe with fresh garden veggies, creamy fresh mozzarella, spicy Italian sausage, tender pillows of potato gnocchi, mushrooms, and ripe black olives, all simmered in a mild, Italian-style, fire-roasted tomato sauce, will have everyone racing to their seats at the table! On time. Miracles do happen. Thank me later.
Now. Who wouldn’t have a big ol’ smile on their face if they were served THIS for dinner. Right?!!!
This has got to be one of my favorite dishes I’ve ever come up with for my zucchini, fresh out of my garden, on the fly, with what I had on hand and had to be used up!!!
SO many times I’ve wanted to make a dish about like this, (dreamt of it actually!! And, yes, us foodies do that…), but never had I had all of the things that I wanted in it at one time. You know?
THIS time…everything came together like the perfect storm, only,…with a rainbow at the end!
So. My yard isn’t big enough here for a full-sized, backyard garden. But I’ve learned that you can grow just about anything you want in large planters on the deck just fine!!
This year, (amongst the usual veggies), I tried zucchini. Let me tell ya this. I got NINE huge ones. And have given almost HALF of them away to neighbors!! One…I didn’t think I could even grow them in pots on the deck. And SURE didn’t know that I was going to get NINE huge ones!! WOW!!
So along with those gorgeous zucchinis, I also had my can’t live without sweet red cubanelle peppers. *Cubanelles are easy growers, and have a very mild, almost sweet taste such as a red bell. They turn red if you leave them on the plant long after they’ve turned green. HIGHLY recommend growing them yourselves!!
I also happened to have a half of a container of fresh mushrooms in a brown paper bag in the fridge, an open package of fresh mozzarella in the freezer that I didn’t need all of at an earlier time, a lidded bowl of leftover black olives from a can that I had used for a previous recipe, and ONE small bag of frozen gnocchi just BEGGING to join the party!!
So I cooked up the sausage and some of the goodies, then added the zucchini so that it wouldn’t get all yucky mushy later….
….then added in the sauce and fire-roasted tomatoes….
….and after simmering….
I added in those “you got more than me” black olives!!
You know what I mean. Just like kids, my hubby and I bicker over who got more olives just like back when we were both little, and our mothers doled out the cherries in the can of fruit cocktail.
Some things never do change.
So, make sure you add plenty of them. All I’m gonna say about that. 😉
Cook your gnocchi in a separate small pot or large saucepan. Seriously. It’s like good pasta, only made with potatoes. It’s a delicate thing that can get overcooked and turn gross.
Drain it, add it to the party….
…then, dot the whole top with diced, fresh mozzarella!
Put a lid on it, and let it melt. Don’t stir it in, just let it do it’s own thing.
And relax! Pour yourself a glass of wine, set the table, and herd the crowd to their seats.
I only used ONE small bag of frozen gnocchi, but you might be able to get away with stretching this out a little and use two. But as it sat for just a bit, there wasn’t much extra sauce.
And what WAS left, was incredibly wonderful for sopping up with a little buttered bread!!!
If you’d like to make this vegetarian-style, you can certainly omit the sausage and add eggplant instead.
You can also, of course, add any veggies that make you happy! This was made according to what we personally like.
And lastly, for EXTRA fun…..grate some fresh parmesan cheese over the top to your heart’s content!
So, if you have zucchinis still on the counter or in the fridge, and want to make something absolutely DELICIOUS, that’s easy…well, this Cheesy Zucchini, Gnocchi & Spicy Italian Sausage Skillet recipe is your new summer go-to!!
I KNOW you’re going to love this just as much as we did, and will become a new summer favorite for your family, too! Enjoy!!
- 1 lb. fresh or frozen gnocchi
- 1 lb. mild, sweet, or hot italian ground sausage
- 1 Tbl. olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 sweet red cubanelle (or any color bell pepper), diced
- 8 oz. fresh sliced mushrooms
- 2½ - 3 cups of your favorite pasta or marinara sauce (I used Barilla's Tuscan Herb)
- 1 (14 oz.) can fire-roasted diced garlic tomatoes
- ½ of a giant zucchini, sliced and quartered
- ½ - 1 cup sliced black olives, as you like
- ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 - 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into small chunks
- garnish with grated fresh parmesan cheese, and fresh basil chiffonade if desired
- In large deep frying pan, sauté sausage until browned and cooked through, breaking up into pieces as you cook. Drain grease, leaving sausage in pan.
- Add olive oil, garlic, onion, peppers, and mushrooms. Cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
- Add sauce, tomatoes, zucchini, and olives, red pepper flakes, cover, bring to a simmer, and simmer until zucchini is crisp-tender or soft (to your own liking). (About 20 - 25 minutes.) Stir a few times to make sure nothing is sticking.
- While pan is simmering, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, and cook gnocchi according to package directions, drain. (Usually only about 3 - 4 minutes.)
- To pan, add gnocchi, and gently stir to coat. Sprinkle diced pieces of fresh mozzarella into pan, cover, and let melt over very low heat or remove from heat altogether and just let rest.
- Just before serving, garnish with fresh a basil chiffonade and grated fresh parmesan cheese if desired.