Searching for a meal that’s not only elegant but also effortless? We found the perfect vegan pesto gnocchi recipe for you in the cookbook Effortless Vegan: Delicious Plant-Based Recipes with Easy Instructions, Few Ingredients, and Minimal Clean Up by Sarah Nevins.
This classic dish is full of flavor, fresh veggies, and fast clean up. You’ll immediately impress your guests with this timely, tasty dish! The gloriously green pesto greets the eye and satisfies the stomach.
Grab your gnocchi, pinch some pine nuts and bust out the basil—it’s time to cook!
Did you know that people have had the pleasure of pesto since Roman times? It wasn’t until the early 19th century that Genovese basil was added to the traditional pesto recipe. Before that time, a mashed mixture (called “moretum”) was made using crushed garlic, salt, olive oil, parmesan cheese, herbs, and vinegar.
In 1863, gastronomist Giovanni Battista Ratto gifted the recipe its basil component and included it in his book, “La Cuciniera Genovese.” He also mentions marjoram or parsley as players in the pesto package. Walnuts were used way before pine nuts, mainly during the Middle Ages in Genoan cuisine (called “agliata”).
How do you prefer your pesto? Are pine nuts your prime choice or do walnuts win your heart? You can find an incredible walnut-based pesto in The Friendly Vegan Cookbook. Does the boastful basil beat out the smooth tasting spinach? We’d love to know!
For those of you who are like me, you may not be used to this food or this word. This is how to pronounce “gnocchi”: nok-ee, noh-kee or (Italian) nyawk-ee. Yup, the “G” is silent! Though the pronunciation is kind of confusing, the food itself is fantastic.
Now that we know how to say the word, what exactly is it? Gnocchi is a variety of pasta made of either potato, semolina, or wheat flour that is formed into adorable dumpling shapes. Vegan varieties are constructed without cheese or eggs.
Usually served with a savory sauce, gnocchi is also downright delicious with roasted veggies. The more, the better! To perk up this vegan pesto gnocchi dish, add a ton more cherry tomatoes or even some elegantly cubed eggplant! You can also step up the salt by boosting a briny-flavor using artichoke hearts, capers, or olives.
Though it may seem like there are many parts to this pesto, it’s actually very easy to prepare. Each item can be made ahead of time until you’re on the brink of baking. Place the pleasantly green pesto in a jar and carefully cut up veggies in a container in the fridge. Half an hour before dinner, preheat your oven, add the ingredients to a casserole dish, and bake for 20 minutes.
While pre-packaged gnocchi is more convenient (and often accidentally vegan), it’s not always the most cost-effective. Trader Joe’s offers a variety of options at their store, including creamy cauliflower and curly kale, if you’re really in a rush. Homemade gnocchi is an alternative that gives you the most variety and value for your money if you have the talent and the time.
Store leftovers in an oven-safe dish so that you can easily pop the Vegan Pesto Gnocchi & Roasted Veggies in to bake at any time. Add extra pesto (or cover the dish with foil) to decrease dryness. This dish is still delicious the next day!
Personalize this Vegan Pesto Gnocchi & Veggies with these helpful tips!
Sarah Nevins is the founder of A Saucy Kitchen, a popular food blog that focuses on easy everyday recipes along with helpful resources for gluten-free vegan living. Her recipes have been featured by BuzzFeed, The Kitchn, and Brit + Co. Sarah lives in Sheffield, England.
Her cookbook Effortless Vegan would make an incredible gift for a new vegan, especially if they are gluten-free! I’ve already put this on my list of “must-buy” cookbooks for my family and friends because of its super simple and effortless approach to vegan and gluten-free cooking. I love the easy-to-read format, lovely layout, and the bright and beautiful photographs. Buy your copy here!
We asked Sarah why she loves this vegan pesto gnocchi recipe so much, and here’s what she had to say:
“There is just something undeniably delicious that happens to veggies as they roast. Juicy, bursting cherry tomatoes. Lightly charred zucchini slices. Beautifully caramelized red onion pieces mixed in with the soft and pillowy pesto-coated gnocchi. There’s just so much to love in this dish!
One of my absolute favorite things about this Pesto Gnocchi and Veggies is just how easy and low maintenance it is to throw together. So long as you have your favorite jar of vegan pesto and a bag of gnocchi ready in the cupboard then preparing this recipe is simply a matter of piling everything into a baking dish, mixing it together and popping it in the oven for 20 minutes. Of course, if you’re feeling more adventurous there’s a lot of room for flexing your culinary ability here as you can easily make your own homemade pesto or even the gnocchi from scratch. However, you choose to make it—this dish is a winner!”
Plus, don’t miss our round-up of the best vegan pasta recipes on the planet.
This recipe for gluten-free Vegan Pesto Gnocchi & Veggies was reprinted with permission from the Effortlessly Vegan cookbook by Sarah Nevins (Page Street Publishing Co. 2020). Photography by Sarah Nevins. Please note that this article contains affiliate links that help support our work at World of Vegan!