Skillet Gnocchi With Italian Sausage and Spinach

It seems that I get myself in a cooking rut pretty often. Every week when I menu plan and make a grocery list, the same old favorites show up on the list. Even with having this creative outlet, my food blog, I don’t always make the time to experiment and cook with new ingredients for our everyday dinners.

One of the things I’ve been meaning to try forever is gnoccchi. I wanted to start with the store bought version, before committing to making a big batch of homemade gnocchi, just to get a feel for it.

I bought these gnocchi at Target beside the pasta. They cooked in just a couple of minutes, and I was able to transfer them to my sauce. For the sauce, I started out by browning some Johnsonville ground sausage. I love substituting ground sausage for ground beef in spaghetti sauces. I’ve had a lot of women tell me that ground sausage, or a mixture of ground sausage and ground beef or lamb was in fact their secret ingredient to the perfect “Italian Gravy.”

After my sausage browns, I add onion, bell pepper and carrots diced very fine along with a few cloves of garlic. I substitute the celery in my holy trinity for carrots to add some sweetness to my sauce. And because we’re from the south, and do a lot of Cajun cooking, just about everything in my kitchen starts with a holy trinity of some sort.

To make the sauce, I either add a good quality spaghetti sauce, some San Marzano tomatoes with basil, or just some tomato paste to my ground meat and vegetables. Then I add a good pour of red wine, and let it simmer away.

It kind of depends on how much red wine I’m willing to sacrifice on what type of tomato product I use to make my sauce. If I have a good amount of a nice red wine, I’ll go for the tomato paste, and then add about half the bottle. If I only have a little red wine, I’ll do the San Marzano tomatoes. And if all I have is cheap, old or God forbid white wine, I’ll use a jarred spaghetti sauce.

After the sauce has simmered and has thickened. I cook the gnocchi. Then for extra nutrition, I add a few handfuls of fresh spinach to my sauce and wilt it in. This way I can say that we don’t have to eat a separate salad with our meal, because the greens are in the main dish :). Lastly I place some fresh mozzarella on top and then melt it under the broiler.

To serve, I just add some freshly grated parmesan and fresh chopped basil. It’s a simple, comforting meal that’s perfect for any day of the week. And I’m happy to say that my family and I ate the whole skillet. It was so good!

Yield: Serves 4

Skillet Gnocchi With Italian Sausage and Spinach

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  • 1 lb Johnsonville ground Italian sausage
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced fine
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced fine
  • 2 medium carrots, diced fine
  • 2 - 3 cloves garlic, diced fine
  • 1 jar good quality pasta sauce
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian blend herbs
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flake (optional)
  • 10 oz fresh spinach
  • 1 (17.6oz)  package potato gnocchi
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • freshly grated parmesan for garnish



Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add ground sausage, onion, bell pepper, carrots and garlic. Cook over medium heat until sausage is browned and vegetables are tender.

Add pasta sauce and wine to skillet. Add herbs and red pepper flake if using. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until sauce is very thick, about 30 - 40 minutes.

When sauce is done, add spinach and wilt in. Cook potato gnocchi according to package directions and add to skillet. Mix in well. Top with mozzarella and transfer skillet under broiler. Broil for just a few minutes, until cheese is melty.

Serve garnished with fresh parmesan.

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*Nutritional Information is not guaranteed for 100% accuracy.

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This post sponsored by Johnsonville. All opinions 100% mine.