If I only have 1 hot plate and 1 pan, what is the best order of cooking these ingredients.

The tricky part is the spinach.

  • 4
    We need more information. What type of gnocchi? What type of spinach (fresh baby spinach, fresh full leaf, or frozen), and are you just adding cream or are there other ingredients in the sauce?
    – moscafj
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 11:29

3 Answers 3


I suppose I should precursor this with
"I'm really, really fussy about fast-cook Italian food. I will almost never eat in Italian restaurants [in the UK] because they simply fail to get something as simple as this right, every single time.
I won't eat anywhere that I can out-cook."

I'd forget all the 'putting aside', you can do that in one pan, no savers.
10 mins start to finish.

I'd add one extra ingredient, though

  1. Start with a hot pan, full burn. Use the ingredients as you add them to knock the heat back.

  2. Chunk the bacon, fry in a good slug or 3 of olive oil until it starts to brown on the edges.
    From comments - if you actually want a sear on your gnocchi, drop it here, but make sure you don't kill it by the end. Over-cooked is not good.

  3. The extra ingredient - a good splash of white wine. You can do without, but it will a) taste nice & b) deglaze the pan.
    (Depending on how practised you are at dropping cold wine into hot fat, you might want to lift off the heat for a second to do this ;)

  4. Drop the spinach & gnocchi in together, keep turning & stirring for a minute or so, until the pan is getting back up to temperature [Don't over-do this part, you're only getting the gnocchi started here, not 'cooking' it. Overdo it here & you'll get squishy, slimy gnocchi at the end]

  5. Drop the cream sauce.

  6. Season to taste, then a quick stir, until it first shows signs of bubbling. Reduce the heat to minimum & put the lid on.

  7. Let it steam 2 mins.

  8. One more quick stir, check seasoning, & serve.

This is very much a staple menu item at my house. Slight differences, but I've modified this to suit your stated ingredients.
I would normally use a large chef's pan or a wok to do this, it's easier to keep everything moving so you don't catch anything. Keeping it all moving until the lid goes on is an important part of the process. Stops burning, spreads heat evenly & makes the gnocchi shed surface starch, which helps the sauce.

For quantities, I'd say just enough cream sauce to glaze but not enough to run in pools underneath once served. It will all thicken slightly between serving & table, as the gnocchi takes on more water, so allow it to be served slightly wetter than you want to eat it.

Oh… one more [important] thing. I'm assuming fresh gnocchi.
If it's dried or that peculiar 'half-alive' vac-pack stuff you find near the pasta but not in a fridge at the supermarket, pre-cook it according to the instructions, but leave it slightly under what they say.
…and next time get fresh, it's night & day.

I'm also assuming fresh spinach, if frozen defrost it first. For this recipe you can treat fresh or defrosted the same. Fresh will need time to wilt, defrosted won't change apparent state at all really, but you don't need to make allowances either way. it will just work.

Another option - nutmeg goes really nicely with spinach - a good pinch [¼ - ½ tsp] in at the same time as the spinach & gnocchi might be an interesting twist.

Other alternatives - mascarpone makes a great 'instant' cream sauce. Add some proper [freshly-grated, not that powdery stuff] parmesan to add some interest.

Advantages of this method…
It's fast, one pot.
No slimy, re-heated gnocchi. It doesn't deserve that treatment. It should be just done, not left around to go gooey.
Bacon will still have a little bit of bite left because you browned it at full-tilt & didn't give it time to relax.

Late Edit:
As this has attracted a fair bit of attention, let me add some twists & tweaks you could use.
If it comes up too 'wet' grate some parmesan* [or even at a push, cheddar] right at the end & stir it in. That will help bind the sauce. It will also add salt, so be careful of your seasoning.
Substitute sausages [links] for the bacon - sicilian are ideal, but any you like - chopped into 1.5cm chunks whilst cold. Get some good colour on them but remember they'll get another few minutes to finish cooking after the fry-off.
Mushrooms & onions instead of the spinach, 2-3 mins before the wine goes in; no more, you don't want them soggy at the end [& leave out the nutmeg].
Garlic goes well too, crushed or finely sliced; drop it just before the wine.
If you use the 'cheese trick' at the end, you can even leave out the cream sauce/mascarpone. The starch from the gnocchi & the wine will already be giving the sauce some body; you use the cheese at the end to perfect the sauce texture & thickness.
Because this is a quick-cook & relies on the fresh flavours of your ingredients I tend not to add more than salt & fresh-ground black pepper to any of these alternatives - but no-one will complain if you add a little of your favourite herbs with the wine. Thyme, oregano, or even some fresh basil right at the end.

*Parmesan - Fresh, fresh & above all… fresh. This cannot be over-emphasised ;-) That powdery stuff in a tub will not do, ever.

  • 2
    But that's not really fried gnocchi. Frying gives each piece a lovely golden crust, which stays crisp even after sauce is added. Fresh gnocchi can be fried without any precooking. And now I want some tonight
    – Chris H
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 16:24
  • 2
    If you drop the gnocchi before the wine you could, I guess, but I'd be worried it would over-cook by the end. I actually am not a fan of that crisped texture, nor what it does to the flavour. Maybe it works better on dried/boiled. it doesn't work for me on fresh, which is maybe why I push that function onto the bacon… or maybe it's just a 'like/don't like thing' ..who knows. I'm actually having Caprese & garlic bread tonight - almost zero-effort food, I'm feeling lazy ;-))
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 16:34
  • 1
    @ChrisH - I added an alternative timeline to the answer.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 16:42
  • 2
    The bacon should have plenty of fat to fry not just itself but the gnocchi too. Why add oil?
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 19:46
  • 1
    @Kevin You are right, but oil transfers the heat faster. Perfect bacon is made much like you roast a duck breast - start with the pan cold and nearly full heat. Tetsujin is picky about the pasta, I am picky about bacon - get proper dry salted & smoked, not the nasty injected-with-smoke-flavored-salt-water stuff. Look for water content, it should be low.
    – Stian
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 8:23

I cook quite a lot with one pan, and the trick is often to take things out and reserve them. When cooking for just myself I use the plate/bowl in going to eat from for reserving cooked elements.

If the bacon is likely to give enough fat to fry the gnocchi, I'd start with the bacon. When cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and fry the gnocchi. Fresh spinach can be added and stir fried or just wilted; frozen may be better put in boiling water for a couple of minutes and drained: use a jug, bowl or even mug, and water from the kettle; a stove-top kettle can be boiled before you start frying, or water boiled in the pan you're going to fry in, but dry it before frying the bacon. When the spinach is done, return the bacon to the pan, and finish with the cream.

If the bacon is very lean, you could still follow this sequence, or you could fry the gnocchi first in oil, and take that out. It will keep hot better than the bacon, but bacon will get back up to full heat almost instantly.

Reserving warms your dish nicely as well.


This is what I would do; The strategy is to have all the "put aside" plates or bowls ready when you start cooking.

The bacon and spinach we be re-heated in the last step.

  1. Fry bacon; put aside.
  2. Cook spinach in some of the bacon fat; put aside.
  3. Cook gnocchi in water; quickly strain and then fry in some of the bacon fat.
  4. add spinach and bacon to gnocchi and add cream to finish the sauce.

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