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The ultimate campsite gnocchi

Family friendly - Leftovers - Stove top meal

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Now cooking from our van having spent years cooking from a bell tent! We're not trained chefs but we do love experimenting with what you can cook in a tiny space.

Big Picnic Demo dish

This ultimate gnocchi was a cooking demo by @lifeinthebricklane at the big picnic 2023.

The ultimate campsite gnocchi is the perfect dish for when you want something warming and satisfying but really don’t want the dishes that come along with a vancooked meal! It’s one pot, uses minimal tools and can be ready in about half an hour. This ultimate gnocchi is one of our favourites for using up leftover vegetables and it uses so much cheese that it’s a great way to get children to eat their greens! You can switch it up to make it vegetarian friendly or it works for a group of meat eaters and vegetarians. You can also switch out the vegetables depending on what you have in your fridge or what you need to use up – gnocchi keeps well in the fridge so you can have this recipe on the backburner for a night towards the end of a trip when you’re not sure what you’re going to have to hand.

The ultimate campsite gnocchi

The Ultimate Campsite Gnocchi

Meat Based
All you need is a decent frying pan (a cast iron pan is our favourite) and a wooden spoon, some gnocchi, parmesan and spare veg and you’ve got yourself a winning campsite supper.
5 from 1 vote
Family friendly – Leftovers – Stove top meal
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dinner
Servings 2 people
Diet Meat Based



Ingredients (serves two, scale up for more people):

  • Olive oil
  • 250 g gnocchi shop bought is absolutely fine
  • 6 rashers smoked streaky bacon ignore if vegetarian!
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes the fresher the better; or switch out the medium sized tomatoes for a good handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 courgette
  • Chicken stock a stock pot or cube is fine
  • Water
  • 50 g Parmesan a small handful is just right
  • 150 g Spinach
  • 125 g mozzarella (1 ball)
  • 1 sprinkle Chilli flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • This looks like lots of stages, but it’s very easy…
  • The first stage depends on whether you’re cooking for meateaters or vegetarians or both. If you’re cooking for vegetarians, skip to stage 2! If you’re solely cooking for meateaters, start by splashing some olive/rapeseed oil into your frying pan, let it heat through slowly and chop your bacon into 1cm cubes. Fry the bacon in the pan until it’s crispy. Remove and set aside. (If you’re cooking for a combination, do the bacon in a separate pan at the same time as step 2.)
  • If you’re cooking for vegetarians, the first stage will be softening your shallots. Add your oil, shallots and a sprinkle of salt, but don’t be too generous with the salt as the later ingredients are quite salty. Finely chop the shallots and cook slowly on a low heat, for 5-7 minutes or until translucent.
  • Finely chop your garlic and add it to the pan. Rustic chopping is fine – we are in a most likely to be in a field, after all!
  • After a minute or two, when the garlic is fragrant, add some fresh thyme leaves and cook for a few seconds.
  • Chop your tomatoes as the garlic is cooking and add them to the pan. They can be fairly chunky, as they’re going to cook down as you move through the recipe.
  • As the tomatoes are cooking, chop your courgette into 2-3cm chunks and fry it off so it’s slightly golden. You’ll want to turn the heat up to medium for this stage. It will soften as you continue to cook, so if it’s any smaller it will start to disintegrate and you’ll lose the fresh courgette flavour in the finished dish.
  • Once you’ve got your golden courgette (don’t cook for any longer than 5 minutes!) add your gnocchi. Make sure you stir well but also allow the gnocchi to brown and crisp slightly. This will add some fun texture to the gnocchi for later.
  • If you’ve cooked bacon, add half of your cooked bacon to the pan and stir in with the gnocchi. If you haven’t – ignore this step…
  • When your gnocchi is starting to turn golden (after 3-5 minutes), add your stock cube and enough water to cover the ingredients in the pan by about 2/3s. Bring to the boil quickly before bringing to a simmer and then turn right down.
  • Add your spinach. Stir well, so the spinach wilts in the pan. It will look like you’re adding way too much spinach to start, but wait until it’s wilted and then you’ll have the perfect balance.
  • Grate in your parmesan. Mix well as you’re grating it in and you will see the parmesan melt and the sauce start to thicken.
  • Rip the mozzarella into small balls and push into the gnocchi mix. Try to spread it out around the pan.
  • Simmer on a low heat for a few minutes, as the mozzarella melts and does its gooey mozzarella thing in the pan. Check for seasoning and add more salt if it requires.
  • Finish by sprinkling some chilli flakes, black pepper and fresh thyme on top.
  • Serve, and enjoy! If you’re cooking for a group, add a fresh green salad and some French baguette to keep it simple but tasty.


If you don’t quite have the same ingredients but want to try something similar, use the following guidelines to adapt the recipe:
• If you have firm vegetables, fry them off before you add the gnocchi – at the same stage as the courgette.
• If you have leafy veg, add them at the same stage as the courgette.
• If you don’t have bacon but have sausages, take the sausages out of their skin and follow the same steps above with the sausage meat as with the bacon.
Essential tip:
Don’t forget the Parmesan!😉


Calories: 855kcalCarbohydrates: 66gProtein: 42gFat: 49gSaturated Fat: 22gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 110mgSodium: 1733mgPotassium: 1420mgFiber: 9gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 9504IUVitamin C: 70mgCalcium: 771mgIron: 9mg
Keyword cheese, comfort food, gnocchi, italian
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