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Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Spinach

This creamy pesto gnocchi is a perfectly easy meal for a week night. Made with mushrooms, spinach, and cream, it cooks up in less than 20 mins.

My creamy pesto gnocchi is such a hearty meal. Make it and I am sure it’s going to become one of your favourite go to recipes for an easy meal on a busy day. It’s also a great meal to serve when company comes over. It can be a great starter for a meal too. Like most of my meals, it’s tasty and so easy to make. It is one of our favourite pasta recipes.

The Ingredients

A handful of ingredients and you have the most wonderful and satisfying meal.

Ingredients for creamy gnocchi

The Ingredients List:

  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 large crimini or button mushrooms
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup arugula pesto (recipe here)
  • 1 package gnocchi
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
  • parmigiana cheese to taste (optional)


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The Cooking Process:

The cooking process is quite simple:

  • Chop the onions into slices
  • Chop the garlic finely too.
  • Add the oil to a large pan.
  • Cook the onions and garlic till they are soft. This takes about 5 or so minutes.
  • Slice the mushrooms and add them to the pan. Continue to cook for just about 1 minute. You don’t want to cook the mushrooms too long or they get soggy.
Onions and mushrooms

The Sauce:

Now we can start to build our sauce.

  • Add the pesto into the pan with the onions and mushrooms just so it’s combined.
  • Add the washed and dried baby spinach leaves to the pan and toss. We do not want to cook the greens. We only want to incorporate it into the other vegetables.
  • Add the cream and mix everything so it is evenly distributed into the pan.
  • Add the salt and pepper to taste. I like to add salt to the mix because I find it tastes a lot better that way, but if you prefer, you can add the salt later.
  • Turn the temperature down to low and let the contents of the pan simmer while you boil the pasta. Make sure to stir the pan.
Vegetables in cream

The Pasta:

While you are making the sauce,

  • In a large pot, heat enough water to cover the pasta balls.
  • Add liberal amounts of salt to the water.
  • Boil it just until they start to rise to the top of the pot. Ensure that you gently stir the pot once or twice. The little pillows are soft and if you over stir the pot, they will get damaged.
  • Once they rise to the top, drain them and remove as much water as possible from them.
  • Add them to the pan with the vegetables and toss.
Gnocchi in pan

By now, your sauce should have thickened a little. Again, once you add the boiled pasta balls to the mix, do not over stir. Turn the heat up and allow the sauce to boil just once and you are ready to enjoy your delicious meal.

I like to sprinkle some red chili flakes and some romano pecorino or some Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top. That’s an optional thing. Your recipe is already delicious enough if you don’t want to add anything else to it. But, I find that a little hint of spice in every other bite makes a huge difference.

Creamy pesto gnocchi with spinach

Serving Suggestions:

This sauce is similar to an alfredo sauce and is fairly rich, so serving it with something light is a good idea. 

Variations:

  • Change the greens for kale or arugula. Any kind of green leafy vegetable goes really well with this recipe.
  • I use heavy cream, but you can replace it with half and half, or even non-dairy milk. It is less rich with these options.
  • To make it into a non-vegetarian option, add some Italian sausage, some grilled chicken, or even some ground pork.
  • Replace the pesto with some marinara sauce and enjoy it with a rose sauce.
  • Turn the meal into a pasta dish by boiling some spaghetti or fettuccini ad adding that to the sauce.

Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Spinach

Course: EntreeCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes
Calories

224

kcal
Total time

25

minutes

This creamy pesto gnocchi is a perfectly easy meal for a week night. Made with onions, mushrooms, and spinach, it cooks up in less than 20 mins.

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion

  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 6 large button or crimini mushrooms

  • 2 cups baby spinach

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup pesto (recipe here)

  • 1 package gnocchi

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)

  • parmigiana cheese to taste

Directions

  • Peel and slice the onions. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Slice the mushrooms.
  • Add the oil to a large pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook for about 5 or so minutes or until the onions are softened.
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 1 minute or so. Do not overcook the mushrooms or they will get soggy.
  • Add the pesto and mix into the onions. Then toss in the spinach and mix to combine. Just cook for about a minute.
  • Add the cream to the pan mix. Turn the temperature down to a low and let it cook.
  • While this is happening, boil some water and add it to a large pot. Add the balls and bring them to a boil. It’s ready as soon as it starts to rise to the top. Drain it and remove as much water as possible.
  • Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce mix and toss to combine. Turn the heat up and bring it to a boil just once.
  • Sprinkle with some red chili flakes and cheese.
  • I like to serve it with a slice of homemade garlic bread. Italian bread (recipe here) with homemade garlic and chive butter (recipe here).
Calorie counter


Is Gnocchi a main dish or a side dish?

Creamy pesto gnocchi with spinach

Generally, it is considered a side dish and is eaten as a starter- much like a soup. In our household, we eat it as a main dish. I make mine with various ingredients and it serves as a meal more than a side or starter course.


What is Gnocchi made of?

Gnocchi with creamy pesto and spinach

Traditionally, it is made by combining mashed boiled potatoes with all-purpose flour and forming bite-sized balls or oblong shapes. Although, you can find variations such as gluten free ones – which are made with gluten free flour), or ones that have cheese in them.


How long does Gnocchi take to cook?

Vegetables in cream for Gnocchi

It takes no time to cook. Add the uncooked balls into boiling water and within 2-4 minutes, they start to rise to the top of the pan. As soon as that happens, drain the water out and toss the pasta balls into whatever kind of sauce you are using.

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Check out other Entree recipes here.

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