Pesto gnocchi is a wonderful combination of creaminess and powerful flavor, and it pairs really well with chicken, fish, and shrimp.
The recipe for how to make pesto gnocchi that I’ll share with you uses parmesan cheese like traditional gnocchi dishes do, but I encourage you to try some different cheeses with this and different seasonings to experiment and come up with the dish that is uniquely yours.
Pasta always gives you plenty of opportunity to play around with it and try something different, and even though gnocchi isn’t technically a pasta, you can use it the same way.
What Is Pesto Gnocchi?
It may look like a pasta, but gnocchi definitely isn’t. It’s simply an Italian style of dumpling that is made from potato. It’s soft and creamy, and it works kind of as a blank slate for whatever seasonings or sauces you want to add onto it.
Pesto is a creamy green sauce that originates from Italy. It’s made from pine nuts and basil leaves, and usually includes partners on cheese, salt, and garlic for flavor.
You combine these two to make pesto gnocchi, which is a lovely dish that’s often served as a side with bread and a meat of some kind.
How to Cook Gnocchi with Pesto
For this recipe, I’m assuming you have pesto prepared or purchased ahead of time. It’s definitely simpler if the pesto was made up already, but you could make it right before you put together gnocchi pesto.
- 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup of pesto
- 1/4 cup of chicken broth (or other broth of your choice)
- 1 pound of potato gnocchi, uncooked
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- Mix together the broth, garlic, cream, and pesto in a skillet. Warm on medium heat.
- When you start to see bubbles in the sauce, add in the milk cheese and stir gently.
- Then, cover the skillet and cook on medium heat for five minutes.
- At that point, you will need to uncover the pan and stir it rigorously. Try not to stir it so hard that you begin to break the gnocchi apart, though. Cook for a few more minutes until the sauce begins to thicken (This happens because the gnocchi is releasing more starch).
- After the sauce becomes thick enough to where you’re happy with its consistency, you can add in the parmesan cheese, stirring gently. Season with the salt and pepper.
You may have a few issues with your pesto gnocchi, if you’re making it for the first time. If it’s too thick when it’s done cooking, you can add in some cream or a splash or two of broth. If it tastes a little bland, feel free to add some more salt and black pepper as needed.
Make sure you’re using high quality pesto, as that’s where most people mess up on this dish. They get a cheap pesto that isn’t made very well and doesn’t taste very good, and it ruins the entire dish.
You also want to serve the dish as soon as it’s done cooking. Pesto gnocchi is best when it’s piping hot, so if you’re serving it with other foods, try to have them ready at the same time.
Consider finishing off the pesto gnocchi last or keeping it hot while you’re preparing the other dishes.
How to make creamy pesto gnocchi if yours is looking too thin? You’re probably not using a good quality pesto, or it’s a pesto that’s too thin and watery.
The other problem you may have is that you might not be adding enough cream, or your cream could be too thin and watery. Just add some extra cream to the dish to help make it creamier.
Another issue that keeps the gnocchi from being creamy is adding too much broth. Go light on the broth and feel free to add more as necessary when you’re done.
What to Serve with Pesto Gnocchi
What goes well with this dish? It’s traditionally served with an artisan bread, like garlic or Italian bread. Something crusty and a little hard makes for a great pairing with pesto gnocchi. That also helps to absorb some of the extra sauce.
This is a dish that pairs really well with salad too. You may want a salad that works well with a sprinkling of cheese or a light sauce to stand in contrast to the heavier sauce of the pesto gnocchi.
Keep in mind that any dishes you serve with this should complement it well and not just give you more of the same. So, you want to try to avoid pasta dishes, rice, or potato dishes, since they’re very similar.
Consider using some steamed veggies as a side like peas, carrots, or corn.
What Wine with Pesto Gnocchi?
If you prefer your Italian food with some wine, I have a couple of options I would recommend.
Italian Arneis Makes for a wonderful pairing, and it has notes of herbs, apple, and grapefruit that goes really well with the garlic and basil make up pesto sauce. It’s a medium body wine with a little hint of almond that will help bring out the flavor of the toasted pine nuts in your pesto as well.
You’ll usually want to avoid pairing a red wine with pesto sauce, since the sharp taste of basil and olive oil (not to mention the overpowering garlic) don’t go too well with the raspberry or cherry flavors of some red wines.
Cabernet Franc is an exception, I would say. This wine has hints of herbs, grass, pepper, in green olives, which complement the pesto sauce flavors. White wines are preferable, however.
If you want a really slam-bang pesto gnocchi dish, try making the pesto yourself using fresh ingredients. It’ll have a sharp, strong flavor that really stands out and that adds a lot to the rather bland gnocchi.