Craving a little Italian indulgence, but don't want to trek to your local ristorante? Great Italian meals have one thing in common: time. Patience is the unspoken ingredient in any memorable ragú or long-simmered soup, and the following recipes will tempt your taste buds, especially if you love gnocchi (which you can absolutely make from scratch if you choose). These time-saving recipes use premade gnocchi and come together in your slow cooker while you spend your day enjoying yourself.
If you’ve never made ragú, you’re in for a treat. No, this is not at all the same as the jarred pasta sauce with the same name. The Crock-Pot Tuscan Sausage and White Bean Ragú with Buttered Gnocchi recipe from Half Baked Harvest simplifies the cooking process by eliminating the need to brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker.
Simply roll the ground sausage into miniature meatballs and set aside while making the sauce. The sauce includes chopped sweet onions, garlic, Italian spices, crushed whole tomatoes, tomato paste and red wine. Hungry yet? Combine these in a bowl before adding them to your slow cooker, then lovingly place the meatballs in the sauce to cook for several hours.
When the cook time is almost up, add some chopped kale and white beans, and let them cook for 30 minutes while you boil the gnocchi on the stove. Finish the recipe by tossing the gnocchi with melted butter, fresh basil and parmesan and topping it with a hearty serving of ragú. You can also substitute pasta or polenta in place of the gnocchi, if you prefer.
If you’re fancying a nice Italian soup, then the Slow Cooker Chicken and Gnocchi Soup recipe from Slow Cooker Gourmet might satisfy your hunger. This recipe uses chicken thighs for flavor and richness, so you should try this one as written before making adjustments, such as using boneless chicken breasts.
Italian seasoning plus onion and garlic powders add flavor; crinkle cut carrots and baby spinach contribute fiber, and heavy cream gives the dish a full-bodied mouth feel. I recommend that you boil the gnocchi separately because you want to make sure the texture is just right (and the recipe suggests adding it during the last 30 minutes of the cook time, which may or may not suit your liking).
When you’re struggling to find a hearty meal for your family, both of these will do the trick. Gnocchi can be super filling on its own, but you may want to serve some crusty bread with the ragú to sop up the delicious sauce. And if you’re feeding a large crowd, simply double (or triple) the soup recipe.