Pasta bake has got to be one of the best comfort dishes going. Plenty of carbs smothered in tomato, cheese or cream sauce with all sorts of lovely other bits in there; bacon or mushrooms being my favourite. For me a pasta bake is normally a weekend dish as it takes a bit of time to make, however, this recipe using gnocchi takes only 45 minutes from start to table and is mighty tasty and super simple too. Not only that, if you serve it with salad you’ve got five different vegetables (fruit if we’re being picky about the tomatoes and aubergine) all in one meal. Say hello to my Aubergine, Butterbean, Pesto and Gnocchi Bake.
I normally have a jar of pesto in my cupboards or fridge which I stir through pasta for a quick meal or spread in a toastie and this recipe is all about doing something different with your pesto. I used Sacla pestos in this dish, did you know that it’s 25 years since they introduced pesto to the UK? That’s many, many, many jars of pesto!
- 1 small aubergine, diced
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 can butter beans, drained
- ½ jar Sacla Roasted Aubergine Pesto
- Salt and pepper
- Oil for cooking
- 500g gnocchi
- 1 ball mozzarella (I used low fat and it worked a treat), torn or sliced
- 3 tsp Sacla Wild Garlic Pesto
- Salad to serve
Preheat your oven to 170C. Mix the chopped aubergine with a drizzle of oil and a little salt then tip onto a baking tray and pop in the oven. Roast the aubergine for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and soft.
While the aubergine cooks get a large saucepan onto a medium heat and add a little oil. Stir in the onion and fry for 10 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes before pouring in the tomatoes and butter beans. Refill the tomato can halfway with water and pour this into the pan too. Leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
Cook the gnocchi in boiling water for one minute then drain and put to one side.
Remove the aubergine from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 200C. Add the roasted aubergine to the tomato sauce with the aubergine pesto and some salt and pepper.
Stir the gnocchi into the tomato sauce and place in an ovenproof dish. Dot the top of the gnocchi with the wild garlic pesto and then cover the top with the mozzarella.
Place the dish in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the dish is bubbling and the cheese has melted and is turning golden brown.
I love how the green oil from the wild garlic pesto mixes with the cheese on top and makes a lovely herby, faintly garlicky top to the whole bake. It makes it smell so good while it’s baking too! The aubergine pesto in the sauce gives it a slight creaminess (because of the cashews in the pesto) and a hint of chargrilled flavour to tie everything together. There’s texture from the beans, softness from the gnocchi, acidity from the tomatoes all topped off with stringy cheese. What more could you want? You could really play around with the pestos too; I think red pepper pesto would be great in the sauce and classic basil pesto on top will be well worth a try. I think this will be making a regular appearance on my kitchen table.
This is a sponsored post and I was reimbursed for my time and ingredients. All opinions and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support me.