Baked Sausage and Kale Gnocchi with Garlic Cream Sauce
This is the perfect meal if you have people coming over for dinner that you want to impress but you don’t have tons of time and energy. The mix of bubbling cheese, garlic cream sauce, Italian sausage and tender kale makes this dinner bake like a cross between a gratin and a fancy casserole. If you have the time then homemade gnocchi is definitely better but if you don’t have all day to roll out the perfect, fluffy dough then this is a great way to embellish upon any store bought gnocchi.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups half-and-half
kosher salt & white pepper, to taste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¼ pound mild Italian sausage
1 bunch Dinosaur (or Tuscan) kale, ribs removed and cut into a chiffonade (about 5 cups)
¾ pound potato gnocchi
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Italian breadcrumbs
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Place a medium saucepot over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Cook, whisking occasionally, for another 2 minutes. Whisk in the half-and-half and continue to cook over medium-low heat, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Season with kosher salt and white pepper to taste then remove the sauce from heat.
Preheat oven to 375°. Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat through. Add the sausage, cook through and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the sausage from heat and let cool. When cool to the touch, slice the sausage into ½” pieces and set aside. In the same pan add the remaining olive oil and heat through. Add the kale and sauté until wilted, about 4 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add the salt and bring back to the boil. Pour in the gnocchi and cook until the gnocchi floats to the surface, about 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add the gnocchi and half of the cream sauce. Toss to coat, then add the kale and sausage and toss again. Pour the gnocchi mixture into an oven-safe skillet. Add the remaining cream mixture over the gnocchi then top with Parmesan and breadcrumbs.
Bake until the gnocchi is golden brown and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Top with crushed red pepper then serve in warmed pasta bowls.