This Creamy Pesto Gnocchi recipe will be on your table in under 30 minutes! It's loaded with peas, sun-dried tomatoes, and a flavorful gnocchi cream sauce. This vegetarian gnocchi recipe is easy comfort food and perfect for busy weeknights!
I am an advocate of easy dinner recipes and this time it's melt in your mouth gnocchi that are so simple to make. My family enjoys gnocchi and I love cooking them different ways because the prep is not at all complicated. It's the perfect weeknight meal.
The creamy pesto gnocchi you see are long gone, but I'm still dreaming about those little pillows with creamy sauce, sun dried tomatoes and peas. There is no meat involved so it's a perfect dish to serve when you need something vegetarian. Whether it's meatless Monday or Friday during lent, this vegetarian gnocchi recipe is sure to please everyone.
- Gnocchi – Gnocchi are soft Italian dumplings made from potatoes, flour, or semolina. They have a soft, pillowy texture. You can use fresh or frozen gnocchi. Substitutions could include other pasta, such as penne or fettuccine, if you can't find gnocchi.
- Olive Oil – Use your favorite light, neutral flavored oil.
- Jarred Pesto – Pesto is a sauce made from basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil. You can make your own homemade pesto or use store-bought. For a substitution, you can use a similar sauce like basil or sun-dried tomato pesto.
- Half and Half – Half and half is a dairy product that is equal parts milk and cream. You can substitute it with a mixture of equal parts milk and heavy cream if half and half is not available.
- Frozen Peas – Frozen peas are used to add a burst of green color and sweetness to the dish. You can use fresh peas if they are in season or substitute with other green vegetables like spinach, asparagus, or broccoli.
- Sun-dried Tomatoes – Sun-dried tomatoes add a rich, sweet, and slightly tangy flavor to the dish. You can use either oil-packed or dried sun-dried tomatoes. If you don't have them, you can substitute with roasted red peppers for a different flavor.
- Parmesan Cheese – Parmesan cheese adds a salty, nutty flavor to the dish. You can use Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano as substitutes if you prefer. If you want a vegetarian or vegan option, you can use nutritional yeast or a dairy-free cheese alternative.
- Salt and Pepper – Salt and pepper are essential for seasoning the dish. You can adjust the amount to your preference, but be cautious with added salt since the pesto and Parmesan cheese can be salty.
What type of gnocchi are used in this recipe?
I purchase store-bought gnocchi in the pasta isle and they are really easy to store and make any time I need a quick dinner. They come vacuum packed and this dinner goes on the table in under 25 minutes.
You can also purchase bags of frozen gnocchi in your freezer section of the grocery store. They work well too. And if you are really ambitious, you can make this homemade gnocchi recipe.
How to Make Creamy Pesto Gnocchi
- Boil the gnocchi according to the package directions and reserve ¾ cup of the cooking liquid before draining.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and toss in the pesto, half and half, peas, tomatoes and the reserved pasta water.
- Cook until bubbly then add the gnocchi and the parmesan cheese. Stir and cook until the gnocchi cream sauce is slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
That's it! I told you this creamy gnocchi was SUPER easy to make!
- Add a Protein – To make the dish more substantial, consider adding protein. You can sauté diced chicken, shrimp, or cooked Italian sausage in the pan before adding the gnocchi and sauce. This will create a heartier meal.
- Swap the Veggies – Experiment with different vegetables based on what's in season or your preferences. Some options include roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, zucchini, or sautéed mushrooms. You could also use spinach, kale or broccoli.
- Swap the Cheese – Try different cheeses to change the flavor. Goat cheese, feta, or Gorgonzola can provide a tangy twist to the dish.
- Make it Spicy – Add a kick of heat by incorporating crushed red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños to the sauce for a spicy pesto gnocchi.
- Make it Gluten-Free – Use gluten-free gnocchi or pasta to accommodate those with gluten sensitivities or allergies.
- Add Herbs – Top the finished gnocchi al pesto with fresh basil leaves or your favorite herbs.
I make this Creamy Pesto Gnocchi along with a classic house salad and dinner is complete. Make sure to keep some packages of gnocchi in your pantry to make this easy dinner. I love having dinner on the table so quick.
Here are some more side dishes to serve with this gnocchi recipe:
- Farmers Market Tomato Salad
- Simple Balsamic Glazed Caprese Salad
- Oven Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest
- Grilled Vegetable Salad via Small Town Woman
More Easy Vegetarian Dinners:
This vegetarian gnocchi recipe is perfect for meatless Monday, lent or any time you want a tasty meat-free dish.
If you like this vegetarian gnocchi with creamy pesto sauce recipe, please give it a 5-star rating below.
Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Sun Dried Tomatoes & Peas
- 16 to 18 ounce package of gnocchi
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup jarred pesto
- ½ cup half and half
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese plus extra for serving
- salt and pepper to taste
- Boil the gnocchi for 2 to 4 minutes (or according to package directions) in a large pot of water. Drain and reserve ¾ cup of the pasta water.
- Heat the olive oil on medium high heat in a large skillet. Add pesto, half and half, peas, sun dried tomatoes and reserved pasta water. Stir well and cook for a few minutes or until peas are cooked and sauce is bubbly.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in Parmesan cheese and gnocchi. Cook for a few more minutes or until gnocchi are creamy and sauce has thickened while stirring gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with extra parmesan if desired.
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