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Spinach and Mozzarella Baked Apple and Potato Gnocchi

Appologies for the break since the last recipe. A travelling husband and sick kiddies really put a hole in my schedule! (hurray for scarlet fever!) All better now though so I'm hoping to be able to post a bit more regularly again.

Here's another winter warmer for those cold nights! It was snowing out when I made this, and it was the perfect dinner to feed everyone before Little Bit and my sister "kicked" the rest of us out of the house for the evening (We had a reception to go to, and they got an auntie and nephew date night). I've got to say, using the expression "kicking out" around a not quite 3 year old was not my best ever parenting decision... Not that he didn't like it. Quite the opposite! He loved it, but takes it rather too literally...

Anyway, gnocchi are a bit of a labour of love to make, as it does take a little while to roll them out and cook them, but it is so worth it! I do it every once in a while and am always so happy with the result!I had made a load of apple sauce with my sister earlier in autumn when apples were in season and wanted to try apple sauce gnocchi. I must say, they came out delightfully!



Cook Time: approx 2 hours -- Portions: 4 -- Cooking difficulty: Medium


3 c potatoes, chopped

1/2 c apple sauce

1 egg

2 tsp thyme

2 tsp sage

salt and pepper to taste

3 1/4 c flour

1/2 c semolina

2 tbsp butter

2 onions, chopped

1/2 head garlic, minced

3 big cubes of frozen spinach (or 3 c spinach)

2 balls of Mozzarella, grated

2 tsp sumac

1) Boil the potatoes until soft. Drain well and mash. Incorporate the apple sauce, the egg and the herbs, and season to taste. Mix in the flour, kneading for a few minutes until you get a soft dough.

2) Sprinkle semolina on the counter. Cut off a fist-sized piece of dough and roll it out into a snake about a finger thick (just like with playdoh!). Cut off inch long pieces from the snake. If you want to get fancy, roll them off the tines of a fork to mark them.

3) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Plop in a few gnocchi at a time and boil them until they float to the top. Fish them out with a slotted spoon and drain thoroughly. Toss them in semolina to coat.

4) Meanwhile, place the butter in a shallow baking dish and put it in the oven at 180°c. When the butter is melted, stir in the onion and garlic. (If you're using fresh spinach wilt it briefly in boiling water at this point.) Using frozen spinach, I popped it in the baking dish once the onions and garlic were fragrant to allow it to melt while the gnocchi finished cooking.

5) When all of the gnocchi have been boiled and coated in semolina, remove the baking dish from the oven and add the gnocchi and mozzarella to it. Stir to mix thoroughly, breaking up the spinahc cubes as you go. Sprinkle with sumac and pepper, and place back in the oven for a further 25-30 minutes until the cheese is melty and crisping a little on top.


This went down a treat! it took a little while in the making, but was quick and easy to serve up. and wash up afterwards. It hit the spot and was a very satisfying dinner. I would however add a little more cheese next time, and maybe a little broth in the bottom of the baking dish. This would bake off in the oven, but keep everything moist and provide just the tiniest bit of sauce. Maybe apple sauce instead of broth, to reinforce the apple flavour from the gnocchi themselves?

Swaps and substitutions:

  • Instead of apple sauce, an interesting variant of this recipe could use pumpkin purée for a seasonal twist, or tomato paste and a dollop of tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish.

  • This recipe was great vegetarian but would also work very well with little bits of bacon or sausage stirred in when the gnocchi and cheese are, before being popped back in the oven.

  • To vary the flavouring a little, or to suit your own fridge and tastes, try it with different vegetables baked in - broccoli, carrots, peppers or tomatoes would work great.

  • Instead of plain white flour, I have used bread flour with seeds in for ghocchi before. The seeds add a beautiful textural variation to the gnocchi, and adding them, whether in the flour or separately could be a tasty way to add some more nutrients.

  • For some extra crunch, try sprinkling some chopped walnuts over the top for the last 10 minutes of baking?

  • If you have leftover nettles, try swapping them in instead of the spinach? (I blanch mine and keep them in the freezer until I'm ready to use them)

Book pairing: With cold dark, snowy nights, my impression from when I made this is unavoidably accompanied by images of wooden ships caught in polar ice. My sister and I were reading Icebound together about William Barrents' polar expeditions. It is amazing to me how slow the men on those expeditions were to learn! They knew they were going North, and that there was a likelihood of encountering freezing temperatures, but the clothing they packed was totally inappropriate. They prioritised saving merchandise over themselves and surprisingly, saw polar bears that they killed as trophies only, rather than using the fur or the meat to help them survive. It was a very interesting read, if a little overly dramatic in places.

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