Looking for quick dinner ideas? Then you have to try this Pesto Gnocchi!
This easy recipe is bursting with bold flavors and so simple to prepare. Best of all, it's ready in 15 minutes ... making it the perfect meal for busy nights!
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If you're looking for a homemade meal that's ready super fast, then this Pesto Gnocchi is for you!
We are talking tender gnocchi coated is the best, most vibrant pesto sauce. Yum!
This simple recipe is ready fast, but it doesn't skimp on flavor. It's super cozy, and it's easily customizable, too ... just add your favorite veggies or other ingredients, like olives or fresh mozzarella.
Serve this recipe on the busiest weeknights and for dinner parties, too. No one has to know it was ready in 15 minutes!
Ready to start cooking? Keep reading for all the delicious details.
This easy recipe uses very minimal ingredients. Here's what you'll need:
- Homemade Pesto
- Salt (I prefer Kosher Salt.)
I kept this recipe super simple, and as a result, you can throw this easy meal together in minutes. However, you can definitely get creative by adding other ingredients (like fresh or cooked veggies). You'll find many suggestions below.
No need to make your own gnocchi for this recipe (unless you want to), because it works perfectly with the packaged kind. Most grocery stores carry it near the pasta.
Homemade pesto is essential for this recipe. While you can make it with a store bought jar in a pinch, you'll definitely be able to taste the difference if you prepare it from scratch.
What kind of pesto is best?
This recipe is traditionally made with basil pesto, a classic sauce (made with garlic, salt, basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan cheese) which originated in Genoa, the capital city of Liguria, Italy. You'll often see it referred to as Gnocchi Genovese (or alla Genovese).
However, you can definitely use different types of homemade pesto to prepare this recipe. ... it's really up to your preference. Here are a few recipes to try:
- Basil Pesto - The classic choice, and for a reason: so delish!
- Macadamia Pesto - This recipe replaces the pine nuts with macadamia nuts and uses a combination of basil and parsley. I actually used this kind for these photos.
- Kale Pesto - A unique sauce that substitutes the herbs found in traditional pesto with everyone's favorite healthy green, kale.
- Cilantro Pesto - If you really want to shake things up, try this bright, spicy sauce! It's made with a combo of cilantro and parsley and gets its kick from hot peppers.
- Rosemary Pesto - This easy recipe is the perfect way to use up leftover rosemary. Yum!
You'll Also Need
To make this recipe, you'll need a food processor to prepare the pesto. You'll also want to grab a large pot to cook the gnocchi. I used my trusty Calphalon Dutch Oven, which has a handy strainer built into the lid (no colander needed).
How to Make Pesto Gnocchi
This recipe is perfect for busy weeknights, because it's so quick and easy! Here's how to make it:
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
- While the water is heating, prepare the pesto. Season generously, because most of the flavor in this recipe comes from the sauce. Tip: if you're a slower cook, feel free to make the sauce first.
- When the water boils, add the gnocchi and cook it just until it floats. This should only take about two to three minutes.
- Reserve ½ cup cooking water, then drain the gnocchi.
- Return the gnocchi to the pot (off heat), then add the pesto. Stir well, adding just enough water to create a cohesive sauce (you probably won't use it all).
- Season to taste, then serve sprinkled with parmesan and nuts.
So simple, right? It should only take you about 15 minutes to make this recipe, and that includes preparing the homemade sauce!
Tip: I used one-pound of gnocchi for this recipe, but don't worry if your package is a few ounces off. The recipe has a generous amount of sauce, so you have a little wiggle room.
This Gnocchi with Pesto is super simple, which means there's lots of room for experimentation! Here are a few ideas to try:
- Different Pestos - As I mentioned above, basil pesto is a classic for this dish, but you can experiment with all different kinds of pesto for this recipe.
- Creamy - Create an even richer dish by adding some cream. To do so, gently warm ½ cup heavy cream in a large skillet, stir in the pesto, then add the cooked gnocchi, stirring just until the sauce coats it.
- Veggies - Mixing in your favorite fresh, steamed or roasted vegetables is the perfect way to add more flavor and nutrition. Try stirring in some fresh tomatoes (like cherry or grape) or spinach, steamed asparagus or green beans, or roasted pumpkin or butternut squash.
- Baked - Craving comfort food? Toss the finished recipe with shredded cheese (try mozzarella, provolone, or fontina), then bake at 425 until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Yum!
- Pan-Fried - For another layer of flavor, fry the cooked gnocchi in a little oil or butter before tossing them with the pesto. So tasty!
- Different Kinds of Gnocchi - I used plain gnocchi for this recipe, but you can definitely try other flavors and varieties, such as sweet potato, pumpkin, ricotta, or even cauliflower.
- Vegan - These classic Italian dumplings are typically made with eggs, so to make the recipe vegan, you'll need to read the package very carefully. This DeCecco Gnocchi is a great option! You will also want to leave any cheese out of your pesto.
- Cheesy - I love this recipe tossed with chunks of fresh mozzarella, and you will, too!
- Olives - If you're an olive lover, toss in a small handful while mixing everything together.
Leftover Gnocchi Pesto makes a great lunch the next day! Store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator, and it will keep for 3 to 4 days. For best results, reheat it gently in your microwave.
Keep things simple and serve this recipe with steamed, sautéed, or roasted vegetables. A salad, like this Massaged Kale Salad or this Quick Chopped Salad, also makes a great pairing. If you want to treat yourself, try it with Garlic Bread, or even better, Cheesy Garlic Bread!
Tip: This recipe serves three people, or two with hearty appetites. (My husband and I can definitely polish off one package of gnocchi between us!) For a family or larger crowd, just double the recipe.
Looking for more pesto recipes? Try one of these yummy ideas next!
- Kale Pesto Pasta
- Halloumi Sandwich with Pesto Sauce
- Pesto, Feta, and Veggie Pizza
- Basil Pesto Pasta
- Roasted Veggie Bowl
- Pumpkin Pizza with Feta + Pesto
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Need more info? Checked out these frequently asked questions about this recipe!
Potato gnocchi has a very mild flavor that tastes somewhat like potatoes. However, most of the flavor comes from the sauce you serve it with.
Gnocchi is not a potato or pasta ... it's a dumpling. While gnocchi can be made with various ingredients (like ricotta), it's typically made from potatoes, which is probably where to confusion comes from.
Gnocchi is done cooking when it floats. Once it does, drain it immediately to avoid overcooking.
Gnocchi typically only take two to three minutes to cook. You'll know it's done when it floats.
A typical one-pound (454 g) package of gnocchi serves three people (about one cup each). You can also serve it as a side, in which case, one-pound will serve about six people.
Gnocchi can be served as a side dish or as a main dish. In Italy, it is often served as a first course (primo) instead of soup or pasta.
Gnocchi goes well with almost any kind of sauce, including tomato basil, butter and sage, pesto, creamy sauces, and more.
- 1 (1-pound / 454 g) package gnocchi
- 1 large clove garlic
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2 cups basil leaves
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- shredded parmesan and / or chopped nuts (optional)
- Large Pot
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.
- Once water boils, add gnocchi and cook just until they float (about 2 to 3 minutes).
- Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water, then drain gnocchi.
- While water comes to a boil, combine garlic and nuts in a food processor. Process until finely chopped.
- Add basil, parmesan, olive oil, and a generous pinch of salt to the garlic mixture. Process until smooth (or desired texture).
- Season generously to taste with additional salt.
- Once gnocchi is done cooking, return it to the pot (off heat) and add pesto. Mix until sauce coats gnocchi, adding just enough pasta cooking water (a bit at a time) to create a cohesive sauce. Season to taste.
- Serve hot, sprinkled with parmesan and nuts, if desired. Enjoy!