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Vegan Baked Gnocchi with Arrabbiata

This vegan baked gnocchi with arrabbiata is pure comfort food. It’s made with a homemade arrabbiata sauce and a homemade vegan mozzarella sauce. It’s best served bubbly hot, with enough for seconds!

vegan baked gnocchi with arrabbiata

I love having gnocchi on hand, because it means satisfying, quick, and easy meals are a hop and a skip away. This baked gnocchi is great with store bought or homemade vegan gnocchi.

Sure if you use homemade gnocchi it does mean you put a bit more effort into the dish, but homemade tastes great! And if you can’t find vegan packaged gnocchi, then you’re stuck with making it yourself. I promise, homemade gnocchi is so much easier than you think!

When you have gnocchi in the fridge, you are moments away from having baked gnocchi! One of the world’s most delicious dishes.

vegan baked gnocchi with some scooped out

My version has pillowy gnocchi tossed in a spicy marinara (called arrabbiata) and smothered with a creamy, scrumptious vegan mozzarella sauce. It’s baked until the cheese sauce is thickened and browned to perfection!

The whole dish can be ready in under 45 minutes, even with making homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella sauce! If you make some store bought swaps then it can be made even faster.

Easy homemade arrabbiata:

Arrabbiata is a spicy marinara and my go-to when making my own tomato sauces. This version cooks up quickly, with red chili flakes and garlic providing depth of flavor.

A little olive oil, sautéed onion, and dried basil round the dish out.

Use canned whole tomatoes for the best sauce. Whole canned tomatoes are the highest quality canned tomato option, and they are really juicy and flavorful. Using canned tomatoes makes homemade arrabbiata accessible year round.

Because the tomatoes are whole you do need to crush them a bit. You can do this by hand–pour the tomatoes into a deep mixing bowl and crush by hand, so the bowl catches any juices spraying. You can also do it with clean kitchen scissors. Just poke the scissors into the can and cut all of the tomatoes.

If you happen to have crushed or diced tomatoes but not whole on hand, using either of those still makes a great sauce.

The sauce is simmered for 15 minutes to bring the flavors together, then blended using a handheld immersion blender or an upright blender. If you have a handheld blender I recommend using that. We don’t need the sauce to be super smooth and the clean up is easy!

The homemade vegan mozzarella sauce:

This easy vegan mozzarella sauce is made with cashews and refined coconut oil for the base. Cashews blend really smooth and creamy and have a rich flavor, while coconut oil adds the fat needed to brown.

Soften the cashews by soaking in cold water for 2 hours (or up to a day in the fridge) or boiling in water for 15 minutes. This step can be skipped if you are using a high powered blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec.

I use refined coconut oil because it is odor and flavorless, but the texture it gives the “mozz” more closely mimics dairy cheese.

pouring mozzarella sauce over the gnocchi

The sauce is seasoned with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar for acidity. I sometimes swap this out for coconut vinegar, which is great in cheesy recipes.

A clove of garlic gives the sauce some pungency, and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast gives it a slight cheesiness.

Tapioca starch is essential to thicken the cheese. While other starches can be substituted to thicken, tapioca starch has a superior texture for vegan cheeses.

All of the vegan mozzarella sauce ingredients are added to a blender and blended until smooth. The sauce is now ready to be used.

Instead of cooking the mozzarella sauce before topping the gnocchi, the sauce is cooked in the oven while it bakes! This is the most awesome time saver and hack. It thickens up so much, coating the top of the baked gnocchi with a cheesy crust.

vegan baked gnocchi in an oval casserole dish

Store bought swaps to make the recipe even faster:

For the quickest baked gnocchi, use store bought packaged gnocchi. Dehydated, fresh, or frozen works well in this recipe!

You can choose a jarred marinara or jarred arrabbiata pasta sauce instead of making your own.

For the vegan mozzarella, you can use store bought vegan mozzarella-style cheese. Buy shredded, or thinly slice a block of vegan cheese.

How to cook vegan baked gnocchi:

You can prepare this dish in individual ramekins, or one larger casserole baking dish.

Toss the cooked gnocchi and sauce together, then divide it up between ramekins for individual portions, or transfer to a baking dish for family style eating. If using ramekins, place them on a baking tray to catch any potential spill-over.

Pour a generous amount of the vegan mozzarella sauce to cover the top.

Bake the gnocchi for 10 minutes if using ramekins, or 15-20 minutes if using a larger casserole. Either way, cook until it’s heated through and the cheese is nicely browned on top.

To increase the browning, you can broil for a minute or two at the end of baking.

Preparing the dish in advance:

You can make the arrabbiata and/or vegan mozzarella sauce in advance. They can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days before baking.

The sauce will thicken to a scoopable consistency after resting in the fridge. When ready to use, scoop it out and plop dollops over your gnocchi. It will melt and spread in the oven.

You can even assemble the dish before baking. Cook the gnocchi, toss it in sauce, transfer to your baking dish(es) and top with the mozzarella sauce. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake!

close up up the baked gnocchi

If you make this vegan baked gnocchi with arrabbiata, leave a comment below and rate the recipe on the recipe card. And please share your photos with me on Instagram, tag @thecuriouschickpea and #thecuriouschickpea. I love seeing your recreations!

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vegan baked gnocchi with some scooped out

Vegan Baked Gnocchi with Arrabbiata

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Fluffy gnocchi are smothered with a spicy homemade arrabbiata sauce and topped with a quick homemade vegan mozzarella sauce and baked up to to a steamy, bubbly entree with crispy edges and perfectly browned cheese. This recipe serves 6 to 8, depending on appetites.

Ingredients

Mozzarella Sauce

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked*
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup refined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch or arrowroot starch
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt

Arrabbiata Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, small dice
  • 1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 32 oz canned tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried basil

Everything Else

  • 2 lbs gnocchi, cooked to package directions (or use cooked homemade gnocchi)
  • 6-8 ramekins, or a 2 quart casserole dish
  • minced parsley for garnish

Instructions

To make the mozzarella sauce

  1. Put everything in the blender and blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as necessary.

To make the arrabbiata sauce

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, lightly caramelized, and golden.
  2. Add the crushed red pepper, minced garlic, and salt and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the dried basil. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 15 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender or upright blender (pause to vent as needed), until a smooth sauce is formed.

Prepare the casserole

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 ºF.
  2. Toss the cooked gnocchi in the arrabbiata sauce and transfer to the casserole dish or ramekins.
  3. Pour the mozzarella sauce over the gnocchi to generously cover it.
  4. Place the ramekins or casserole dish onto a baking tray to catch spillover.
  5. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has browned, about 10 minutes if using ramekins, or 15-20 minutes if using a larger casserole dish. Broil at the end for a couple of minutes to increase browning.
  6. Garnish with minced parsley to serve (optional).

Notes

*Soak the cashews in cold water for 2 hours or boil in water for 15 minutes, drain then rinse. This step can be skipped if you have a high powered blender.

Mozzarella sauce adapted from Same Day Vegan Mozzarella Cheese

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 662Total Fat: 33gSodium: 829mgCarbohydrates: 79gFiber: 7gSugar: 7gProtein: 15g

Nutrition is calculated automatically and should be used solely as an estimate.

Did you make this recipe?

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Natalie

Friday 20th of May 2022

I love what you are doing! I’m a vegan and love finding recipes that not only provide great plant-based nutritional value but also taste amazing.

Curious if you have heard of Terraseed? Terraseed creates a comprehensive Multivitamin for Vegans – made for vegans & by vegans. I supplement my plant-based meals with their supplements to ensure a diet rich in goodness!

Joanna

Wednesday 24th of February 2021

Terrific recipe! I wish I'd had a chance to take a photo before it vanished. Not only tasty but stunning enough to serve guests...when we can invite them over again. Plus it's easy to prepare, even with homemade gnocchi -- the biggest challenge was remembering to bake the potatoes ahead of time.

Chava

Monday 25th of January 2021

HI, can Xanthyum Gum be used instead of tapioca starch?

Eva Agha

Monday 25th of January 2021

Hi Chava, I would recommend substituting cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or even potato starch if you need to substitute tapioca starch. You could add a teensy bit of xanthum gum (like 1/8 teaspoon) for a "stretch" alongside a starch but otherwise I wouldn't use it!

diana mendoza

Thursday 17th of December 2020

Oooh this is like all my favorite things in one *drooool* Can you make this in one large casserole dish rather than the individual ramekins? If so how big should it be?

Eva Agha

Thursday 17th of December 2020

Hi Diana, you sure can! You probably need 1.5 to 2 quart casserole dish, or use a ~9 inch cast iron skillet. Hope you enjoy!!

Lisa Mackintosh

Tuesday 5th of May 2020

Hello! I love this and have shared with a friend. She is allergic to c.oil. What would you sub for in the mozzarella sauce? Thank you!

Eva Agha

Tuesday 5th of May 2020

Hey Lisa! I’ve heard people report back that they subbed olive oil and liked the results. Also a friend recently made it and forgot the oil all together and said it was still good. Hope that helps and thanks for sharing! ☺️

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