This easy, creamy pesto gnocchi is ready in just 20 minutes (and most of that time you’re just waiting for the water to boil!) With store-bought gnocchi, basil pesto, and heavy cream. Vegetarian.
This lickety-split pesto gnocchi is SO EASY that to call it a “recipe” might actually be cheating.
You only need three (THREE! COUNT ‘EM!) ingredients here:
- Gnocchi (store bought or homemade are both fine!)
- Heavy cream
- Pesto (basil or arugula pesto are our favorites here!)
The longest part of this recipe is waiting for the water to boil. But once it’s boiling, this bright, creamy gnocchi recipe comes together in under 10 minutes for a quick and easy dinner!
Make this gnocchi all in one pot or saucepan if you like (boil the gnocchi, transfer it to a colander, and then return the pot to the stove to make the sauce) or whisk the sauce together in a separate skillet while the gnocchi boils to save an extra few minutes.
You can even skip the boiling step entirely and try frying your gnocchi in a skillet!
How to riff on this pesto gnocchi:
This recipe is VERY FORGIVING – so mix it up with whatever you have on hand!
- Dress it up with some extra toppings: Sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh arugula, crushed walnuts, roasted veggies (butternut squash! eggplant! broccoli! mushrooms!), spinach, grilled corn or grilled zucchini are all good here. Stir your veggies right into the sauce or pile them on top for dramatic effect. You could also top this gnocchi with a quick corn and tomato salad!
- Get cheesy: Go for a mac and cheese vibe by stirring some extra cheese into this sauce. Add a scoop of goat cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, or mascarpone for a quick-melting, creamy addition, or stir in a handful of shredded parmesan, white cheddar, fontina, gruyere, or asiago.
- Add protein: Serve this pesto gnocchi recipe with grilled or roasted chicken, salmon, shrimp, steak, or sausage. This is perfect with a rotisserie chicken and a simple salad for an ultra-quick dinner!
- Add extra flavor to your sauce by whisking in a splash of white wine (let it simmer for a few minutes before you add the cream to cook off any alcohol), chicken stock, a bit of good butter, or a bit of lemon juice.
- Out of heavy cream? You can use half-and-half in place of the cream in a pinch, but we don’t recommend swapping the heavy cream for plain milk (it won’t thicken as much and can separate more easily if there’s too much lemon juice in your pesto!) If you don’t want to use heavy cream, try our favorite (vegan!) magic cauliflower cream!
This easy, creamy pesto gnocchi is ready in just 20 minutes with store-bought gnocchi, pesto, and heavy cream!
FOR THE PESTO GNOCCHI:
- 1 pound gnocchi (16 ounces)
- 1/3 cup pesto (we like basil or arugula pesto!)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
OPTIONAL (BUT DELICIOUS!) TOPPINGS:
- 1/3 cup shaved parmesan cheese
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
- Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Add pesto and cream to a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk to combine and cook, whisking occasionally, for 3-5 minutes until sauce has thickened slightly and is just beginning to simmer.
- Add cooked gnocchi to sauce and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
- Garnish gnocchi with shaved parmesan and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Serve and enjoy!
What kind of gnocchi should I use? Any gnocchi is fine! We typically use store-bought here (you can usually find some shelf-stable gnocchi in the pasta aisle, or some refrigerated fresh gnocchi near the cheese or deli section with other fresh pastas) but use homemade gnocchi if you have it (fresh or from the freezer!)
Additions and Substitutions. Use half and half or Magic Cauliflower Cream instead of heavy cream here if you like. We don’t recommend using plain milk as it can sometimes result in a thinner or broken sauce. Add your favorite veggies or protein to make this a bit heartier. No gnocchi? Use any kind of pasta you like! We topped the gnocchi in these photos with shaved parmesan and some lemon zest. Be sure to read the post above for a full list of our favorite riffs and substitutions!
If your sauce is too thick to coat the gnocchi evenly, add a splash of water, cream, or chicken/vegetable stock to thin it out a bit. If your sauce is too thin, let it simmer an additional minute or two, stirring frequently, until it begins to thicken.
Taste and season before you serve. Because there are so few ingredients here, and because pesto can vary so much from recipe to recipe or brand to brand, it’s extra important to taste! Sneak a bite of your gnocchi once it’s tossed with the sauce and add salt if the flavors don’t quite “pop” yet.
Strict vegetarians should look for parmesan cheese made without rennet. To make this recipe vegan and dairy-free, buy (or make) vegan gnocchi and vegan pesto, and swap the heavy cream for Magic Cauliflower Cream.
Keywords: summer, basil, weeknight