Vegan and gluten-free cauliflower gnocchi tossed in homemade sun-dried tomato pesto sauce is a very quick and delicious meatless weeknight meal!
When it comes to Italian food, I love white sauce pasta and pesto pasta. Experimenting with pasta sauces is my favorite thing to do.
Using sun-dried tomatoes to make pesto is something I've wanted to try for a long time. Finally, I got the opportunity.
While shopping at Whole Foods, I came across a packet of vegan and gluten-free cauliflower gnocchi. Since I had never had gnocchi before, I got it.
I decided to cook this gnocchi with sun-dried tomato pesto sauce. This pesto sauce gnocchi recipe hits all the right flavors one would expect in a classic Italian dish and is a fun and delicious twist on the traditional pesto recipe.
What is gnocchi
Gnocchi is a traditional Italian potato dumpling that is small, roundish, thick, and soft. It's mainly made with flour and/or semolina along with potatoes.
It has a soft texture that melts in your mouth while still being firm enough to chew. There are several variations to this classic Italian dish and my recipe is just one of them.
You can either make gnocchi from scratch or use store-bought ones. Check the pasta aisle or the freezer section if you plan on getting the ready ones.
Also, most of the store-bought ones contain eggs in them. Thankfully, now there are many brands that make vegan gnocchi. So don't forget to read the packet for ingredients before buying.
There are a couple of ways to cook the gnocchi. You can either boil it or directly pan-fry it. Sometimes you can also do both, it will just increase your cook time. You can also bake it.
Why make this
This is one of those dishes that comes together pretty quickly especially on busy days! This gnocchi with pesto sauce recipe makes for a fantastic side dish or a meatless main course.
- this gnocchi recipe is vegan and gluten-free
- can be made in 20 minutes
- simple and easy recipe
- ideal recipe to clean out the fridge
- a family-friendly meal
- Can be made ahead of time
For the gnocchi pesto sauce recipe
Sun-dried tomatoes - They are a great way to preserve summer tomatoes. They can be used any time of the year when you want a nice punch of tomato flavor.
They provide the perfect balance of sweet and tart, especially when used in pesto sauce. You can use dry-packed or oil-packed tomatoes in this recipe.
Romaine Hearts Lettuce leaves - Leftover lettuce from your salad makes a great addition to this recipe. You can also use any salad mix that's about to wilt in the fridge.
Tahini sauce or miso paste, pine nuts, vegan parmesan, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper gives the pesto its authentic flavor.
For the pasta
Gnocchi - I have used shelf-stable (find it in the pasta aisle) vegan and gluten-free cauliflower gnocchi for this recipe. You can use any variety. You can also make it at home.
Other veggies - I have used green peas, but you can add any veggies or greens of your choice.
You can either garnish with cilantro or parsley.
Here's how to make it
First, we need to prepare the pesto sauce recipe and cook the gnocchi separately.
1 - Grill lettuce leaves along with garlic. Also, lightly toast the pine nuts. This will give the pesto a nice aromatic smoky flavor. You can also use them raw.
2 - Transfer the grilled lettuce leaves to a food processor.
3 - Then add the sun-dried tomatoes.
4 - Add the toasted pine nuts and grilled garlic cloves to the food processor.
5 - Now add the vegan parmesan, red pepper flakes, tahini, salt, and pepper.
6 - Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and blitz to make a creamy pesto.
7 - Transfer to a bowl and use as needed. Store the remaining in the fridge or freezer. Now that the gnocchi sauce recipe is done, it's time to cook the gnocchi.
8 - Boil water and add salt. Then drop in the gnocchi and cook it for 2-3 minutes. Once the gnocchi begins to float, strain it. Do not overcook.
9 - Transfer the cooked gnocchi to a plate and let it dry completely. You can use gnocchi at this stage to make your pesto pasta. However, if you saute it a bit, it will give it an additional flavor and texture.
Now, pan-fry gnocchi in olive oil till they brown a bit on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
10 - Heat olive oil in the same pan and fry green peas and edamame. Fry for 2-3 minutes on medium flame.
11 - Then add 1/2 cup of lettuce pesto to the pan. Mix and saute for a minute.
12 - Next add the fried gnocchi to the pan and mix. Cook for another 2 minutes.
13 - Adjust the seasonings as needed. Garnish with chopped cilantro and take it off the flame.
Garnish with some vegan parmesan and chopped cilantro/parsley. Serve Gnocchi al Pesto with some garlic bread on the side or Parmesan Bread Fries.
This pesto gnocchi (vegan and gluten-free) can be served for brunch, on special occasions, for weekday or weekend meals, and can also be packed in lunch boxes.
More ways to use this pesto
Enjoy it with bread, crackers, sandwiches, wraps, pasta, pizza, roasted vegetables, mixed with butter, as a salad dressing, or use it as a dip or soup garnish.
Top tips, recommendations, and suggestions
Use miso paste instead of tahini if you want. If the pesto is thick, add some pasta water (water reserved from cooking pasta) to dilute it a bit. Use basil instead of lettuce leaves as an option.
Instead of vegan parmesan, you can also use nutritional yeast or regular parmesan. Add some ricotta, cream, or dairy-free whipping cream if you like your pasta creamier.
Pine nuts can be substituted with any other nuts like walnuts, almonds, or pecans. Feel free to add more cheese, protein, and veggies to your pasta to make it more hearty and cheesy.
Skip the pan-fry part and use the gnocchi after boiling them if you want. You can also prepare the same recipe using ravioli or tortellini instead of gluten-free gnocchi.
If you plan to pan-fry, ensure that the boiled gnocchi is completely dry first. You can also roast it in the oven for 10 minutes.
You can definitely add more veggies like mushrooms, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and/or bell peppers to this pasta to make it more hearty.
Ways to store the pasta and pesto
This lettuce pesto stays good in the fridge for 4-5 days. Even the fully assembled pasta stays well in the fridge for 4-5 days.
You can freeze this sun-dried tomato and lettuce pesto for 2-3 months! If you freeze them in ice cube trays, then it will be easy to pop out a few tablespoons at a time.
To save time on busy weeknights, you can also freeze the cooked pasta (without adding the sauce). Cook the pasta al dente, drain and then spread them out on a baking sheet to freeze in a single layer.
Once they're hard, transfer the frozen pasta to ziptop containers and freeze. Thaw and use as needed.
Love pasta? Check these recipes out!
- Garlic & Breadcrumbs Pasta
- Indian Curry Pasta
- Edamame & Mushroom Pasta Salad
- Cheesy Tomato Rotini Pasta Bake
- Almond Picada Pesto Spaghetti
- Mexican Casserole with Gnocchi
If you’ve tried this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto With Vegan Gnocchi recipe or any other recipe on the blog please let me know how it went by commenting below, I love hearing from you!
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto With Vegan Gnocchi
To make the pesto sauce
To prep the gnocchi
- 16 oz gnocchi
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
To prepare the pesto pasta
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup green peas and edamame mixed
- 2 tbsp cilantro
To make the pesto sauce
- Grill lettuce leaves along with garlic. Also, lightly toast the pine nuts. This will give the pesto a nice aromatic smoky flavor. You can also use them raw.
- Transfer the grilled lettuce leaves to a food processor.
- Then add the sun-dried tomatoes.
- Add the toasted pine nuts and grilled garlic cloves to the food processor.
- Now add the vegan parmesan, red pepper flakes, tahini, salt, and pepper.
- Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and blitz to make a creamy pesto.
- Transfer to a bowl and use as needed. Store the remaining in the fridge or freezer and use as needed.
To prep the gnocchi
- Boil water and add salt. Then drop in the gnocchi and cook it for 2-3 minutes. Once the gnocchi begins to float, strain it. Do not overcook.
- Transfer the cooked gnocchi to a plate and let it dry completely. You can use gnocchi at this stage to make your pesto pasta. However, if you saute it a bit, it will give it an additional flavor and texture.
- Now, pan-fry gnocchi in olive oil till they brown a bit on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
To prepare the pesto pasta
- Heat olive oil in the same pan and fry green peas and edamame. Fry for 2-3 minutes on medium flame.
- Then add 1/2 cup of lettuce pesto to the pan. Mix and saute for a minute.
- Next add the fried gnocchi to the pan and mix. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- Adjust the seasonings as needed. Garnish with chopped cilantro and take it off the flame.
- Garnish with some vegan parmesan. Serve Gnocchi al Pesto with some garlic bread on the side or Parmesan Bread Fries.
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