Everything about Tuscany speaks to us: the landscape, the history, the art and of course the food! The central Italian region has inspired many of our favorite recipes, such as creamy Tuscan chicken, succulent Tuscan butter prawns and Tuscan chicken pasta. This time we double the comfort by giving meatballs and gnocchi the Tuscan treatment in one dish. What makes this even better? It all comes together in the slow cooker.
The secret ingredient here is sun-dried tomatoes, which are chopped and mixed into the meatball mixture and stirred into the sauce with the gnocchi. We like to use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, which ensures they’re tender and flavorful, and also gives you a bonus ingredient: sun-dried tomato oil. Some of that oil is added to the broth in which the meatballs are cooked, adding even more Tuscan vibes to the meat.
Rounding off the Tuscan experience is garlic, lemon, parmesan and white wine. Fresh herbs (basil and rosemary here), lemon and baby spinach are stirred in at the end for a light, bright finish.
Slow cookers do many things well, but browning is not one of them. When the meatballs are slowly cooked to tender perfection, we transfer them to a foil-lined baking sheet for a few minutes under the broiler. The blast of high heat adds color, flavor and texture. The frying happens while the gnocchi is cooking in the broth, so this step doesn’t add any time to your dinner prep.
With the combination of meat, vegetables, and pasta, this is a one-pot meal, but some garlic bread, broccolini, or oven-roasted asparagus would also be delicious on the side if you’re serving a crowd.
Have you made this recipe? Tell us all about it in the comments below.