Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Gnocchi Recipe | Easy Dinner

This vegetarian gnocchi recipe is the ultimate comfort food. It’s packed with bright summer flavors that make any dinner special. The dish features tender potato gnocchi, a creamy lemon-kale pesto sauce, and optional toppings like chopped walnuts.

This pesto gnocchi meal is both versatile and nutritious. It has a fantastic 4.90 rating out of 5 from 49 votes. You can make a delicious meal in just 20 minutes, and each serving is 329 kcal.

Christine McMichael created this easy gnocchi dish. It suits various dietary needs, making it ideal for weeknight dinners.

Key Takeaways

  • Recipe rating: 4.90 out of 5 from 49 votes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Calories: 329 kcal per serving
  • Servings: 4
  • Versatile and accommodates vegan and gluten-free diets

Introduction to Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Gnocchi

Making Italian dumplings, like gnocchi, is a classic. These dumplings are made from potatoes, flour, and eggs. They’re a comfort food loved for their soft texture and how well they take on flavors.

What is Gnocchi?

Gnocchi are small, thick pasta that feel like soft pillows. They’re mostly made with potatoes. Making gnocchi at home can be a fun project. But, you can also buy them from brands like Delallo for a quick fix.

These gnocchi are great for easy family meals. They please both kids and adults. They’re a versatile choice for many sauces.

Why You’ll Love This Dish

The pesto gnocchi recipe is a mix of gourmet and easy. It combines fresh and zesty flavors. With ingredients like spinach, basil, and dill, it’s full of nutrients and taste.

This recipe is simple yet delicious. It uses lemon zest and juice for a creamy touch. Cooking it takes less than an hour, making it a quick and fun meal to prepare.

It’s perfect for those who love comfort food and easy family meals. This dish adds a healthy twist with kale. It’s a tasty way to enjoy gnocchi with a Mediterranean twist.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Making the Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Gnocchi is easy and fun with the right gnocchi ingredients. Let’s look at the main parts and some optional healthy toppings to take your dish to the next level.

Main Ingredients

  • 2 lb store-bought potato gnocchi
  • 3 1/3 cups of kale
  • 1/2 cup of basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional crushed red pepper flakes

Optional Toppings

To spice up your nutritious dinner, try these healthy toppings:

  • Chopped walnuts for a nutty crunch
  • Crispy fried onions for additional texture

These kale pesto components and extras make a meal that’s both healthy and tasty. They suit everyone’s taste.

Choosing the Right Pesto

Choosing the right pesto can change how your gnocchi tastes. You can pick from classic basil pesto or try something new like kale pesto. Each type brings its own flavor and benefits.

Homemade vs. Store-bought

When picking between homemade pesto recipe and store-bought, think about what you want. Making your own pesto lets you control the ingredients and flavors. You can also make it fit your diet easily.

Store-bought pesto from brands like Whole Foods and Rao’s is convenient and still good quality. They’re easy to find and save time, perfect for busy nights.

Kale Pesto Alternatives

Basil pesto is popular, but kale pesto variety adds something new. It’s healthier and tastes different. It’s great for those wanting a nutritious meal.

Choosing between homemade or store-bought pesto depends on what you like, your health goals, and how busy you are. But the right easy pasta sauce will make your gnocchi taste amazing.

Preparing the Potato Gnocchi

Getting the potato gnocchi right is key for a great dish. Start by boiling pasta as the package says until they float. This means they’re done. Don’t put too many in the pot to cook evenly.

Boiling the Gnocchi

First, fill a big pot with salted water and bring it to a boil. Put in the gnocchi and cook for 2-3 minutes. When they float, they’re ready. Don’t cook them too long or they’ll be too soft.

After boiling, toss the gnocchi in butter or olive oil. This adds a nice crispness on the outside while keeping the inside soft.

Cooking Tips for Perfect Gnocchi

Here are some tips for great gnocchi:

  • Use a large pot with plenty of water to avoid overcrowding.
  • Watch the boiling closely and remove gnocchi as soon as they float.
  • Reserve some gnocchi water to thicken sauces if needed.
  • Sauté briefly in butter or olive oil after boiling for added texture.

Follow these tips for perfect potato gnocchi preparation. Your guests will love the soft, crisp gnocchi with your favorite sauces and toppings.

Making the Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Sauce

In this section, we explore the magic of creating the creamy lemon kale pesto sauce. This blend of flavors takes our gnocchi to a gourmet level.

Step-by-Step Instructions

The process of making this homemade sauce preparation is easy yet rewarding. Start by heating pesto, lemon juice, and milk in a big pan. Then, add garlic, cream, chicken broth, sundried tomatoes, and parmesan cheese. Keep whisking for 3-5 minutes until it thickens a bit, aiming for a velvety sauce consistency.

When the sauce thickens, add the cooked gnocchi. Let these dumplings soak up the flavors, ensuring each one is fully coated in the creamy sauce. This whole process takes just 15 minutes, making it a quick and tasty meal.

Tips for Adjusting Consistency

Getting the right sauce consistency can be a bit tricky. To get your lemon pesto recipe perfect, adjust the texture as needed. If it’s too thick, add a bit more milk. For a thicker sauce, cook it longer. Or, use a tablespoon of flour to thicken it.

These kitchen tips ensure your creamy pasta sauce always impresses. It gives your gnocchi a rich, flavorful coating that’s full of pesto and lemon zest.

Combining Gnocchi with Sauce

Now that you’ve made the gnocchi and the creamy lemon kale pesto sauce, it’s time to mix them together. Lower the heat and stir the gnocchi into the sauce. This makes sure every bite is full of flavor.

combining pasta and sauce

Next, add grated parmesan cheese and stir until it melts. This step makes the sauce and gnocchi stick together, improving the taste. The result is a *creamy gnocchi dish* that’s full of pesto and lemon flavors.

This meal is not only tasty but also easy to make your own. You can add veggies or protein to make it your own. Enjoy the mix of flavors in this *creamy gnocchi dish* perfect for dinner.

Here are some key facts about this recipe:

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Total time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings
  • Calories: 560kcal per serving

Flavor Enhancements and Additions

Customizing your gnocchi dish opens up a world of flavors. This recipe lets you adjust each serving to your taste and dietary needs.

Adding Vegetables

Adding vegetables to your gnocchi is a great way to make it more interesting. Try sautéing or roasting veggies like broccoli, broccolini, kale, or spinach. These add color and nutrients to your meal.

Broccoli and asparagus are great for pasta dishes. Adding them to your gnocchi boosts nutrition and looks. For something different, season your gnocchi with fresh herbs like basil or, for an aromatic touch.

Adding Proteins

Adding protein to meals makes them more filling and nutritious. There are many ways to add protein to your gnocchi. Crispy bacon, sautéed chicken, and seafood like shrimp or salmon are popular choices.

For plant-based diets, beans or roasted chickpeas work well. They’re great for vegetarians or vegans. Check out spring pasta recipes for ideas on using these proteins.

Vegetables Proteins
Broccoli Chicken
Asparagus Shrimp
Broccolini Bacon
Kale Salmon
Spinach Chickpeas

These additions enhance the flavor and make your gnocchi more nutritious. They turn your dish into a satisfying meal for everyone. For a twist, use cavolo nero instead of basil in your pesto.

Serving Suggestions

When serving this creamy lemon kale pesto gnocchi, choosing the right side dishes can make your meal better. Here are some great ideas for serving gnocchi and dinner suggestions for your next meal.

Perfect Pairings

For the best pasta pairings, try these:

  1. A fresh green salad: Crisp lettuce, arugula, or baby spinach with a light vinaigrette will balance the rich gnocchi dish.
  2. Sautéed greens: A side of sautéed kale, spinach, or Swiss chard can complement and enhance the flavors of the creamy kale sauce.
  3. Grilled veggies: Try grilled asparagus or zucchini to add a smoky flavor and a bit of crunch to your plate.
  4. Toasted bread: A slice of toasted artisan bread or garlic bread makes a great companion to soak up the extra sauce.

Creative Plating Ideas

How you present your food can change how much you enjoy it. Here are some creative ways to serve and plate your dinner:

  1. Decorative bowl: Serve the gnocchi in a decorative bowl for a beautiful look.
  2. Garnishes: Add a sprig of basil, a lemon wedge, or a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts for texture and color.
  3. Pesto drizzle: Make a swirl of pesto over the gnocchi for an artistic touch and more flavor.
  4. Layered presentation: Use a large plate to layer the gnocchi with sautéed breadcrumbs and walnut halves for a fancy look.

Using these gnocchi serving ideas and focusing on food presentation will make your dish unforgettable. It will be both delicious and a feast for the eyes.

Gnocchi Serving Ideas Description
Fresh Green Salad Crisp lettuce, arugula, or baby spinach with a light vinaigrette
Sautéed Greens Sautéed kale, spinach, or Swiss chard
Grilled Veggies Grilled asparagus or zucchini
Toasted Bread Toasted artisan bread or garlic bread
Decorative Bowl Serve in a decorative bowl for visual appeal
Garnishes A sprig of basil, a lemon wedge, or toasted pine nuts
Pesto Drizzle A swirl of pesto over the gnocchi
Layered Presentation Layered with sautéed breadcrumbs and walnut halves

Meal Prep and Storage Tips

Proper meal prep for gnocchi and other pasta dishes ensures you can enjoy your delicious meals for days. Let’s explore the best ways to store, reheat, and preserve your Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Gnocchi so every forkful remains mouthwatering.

Storing Leftovers

After preparing your gnocchi, it’s essential to store leftovers correctly to maintain their flavor and texture. Use airtight containers, such as Glass Pyrex Containers, to store the gnocchi in the fridge. This method of food preservation keeps the dish fresh for 3-4 days. When it comes to reheating ideas, you can opt for the microwave or stovetop. Add a splash of water or milk to revive the creamy pesto sauce.

Freezing Tips

If you plan on freezing gnocchi for longer storage, ensure you portion it into freezer-safe containers or bags. This approach will keep your gnocchi good for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, simply thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding liquid as needed to restore the creamy consistency of the sauce.

meal prep for gnocchi

Dietary Variations

The Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Gnocchi recipe is easy to adjust for different diets. It’s perfect for vegans, those avoiding dairy, or anyone looking for gluten-free meals. Here’s how to make it work for you:

Vegan and Dairy-Free Options

To make this dish vegan, just swap out the animal products. Use almond or oat milk instead of dairy, and choose vegan butter. For creaminess, try nutritional yeast or dairy-free cheese shreds. Adding vegan parmesan can also boost the flavor.

Gluten-Free Modifications

For gluten-free meals, make sure the gnocchi and all ingredients are labeled as such. Many gluten-free gnocchi types are available. Also, check that the pesto and seasonings are gluten-free. These steps let you enjoy the dish’s rich flavors and textures while sticking to a gluten-free diet.

Dietary Adaptation Main Ingredient Changes Resulting Flavor
Vegan and Dairy-Free Options Almond/Oat Milk, Vegan Butter, Vegan Cheese Creamy, rich, and plant-based
Gluten-Free Modifications Gluten-Free Gnocchi, Gluten-Free Pesto Same satisfying taste without gluten

With these adjustments, the Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Gnocchi becomes a dish for everyone. It offers a variety of vegetarian meals that suit different tastes and needs.

Why The Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Gnocchi Recipe Is Perfect for Easy Dinners

The Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Gnocchi recipe is great for quick dinners. It takes only 10 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to cook. This makes it perfect for busy weeknights. It uses Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi and Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto for a healthy meal.

This recipe is very versatile. You can change it to fit your family’s tastes or dietary needs. Adding plant-based sausage and Savory Cashew Cream boosts the flavor and texture. It’s a great example of vegetarian comfort food.

Here is a quick overview of why this recipe is perfect for your next meal:

Criteria Details
Preparation Time 10 minutes
Cooking Time 20 minutes
Servings 5
Calories per Serving 582 kcal
Key Ingredients Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi, Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto, plant-based sausage, balsamic vinegar, tamari, Savory Cashew Cream
Customer Review Rating 4.97 out of 5 from 30 votes
Dietary Adaptability Vegetarian, dairy-free options available

The *Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Gnocchi* is a top choice for easy dinners. It offers great flavors without the hassle. It’s perfect for those looking for a quick, satisfying meal that everyone will enjoy.


The Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Gnocchi recipe is a perfect mix of simple ingredients and smart cooking. It turns gnocchi into a luxurious meal for weeknights. It’s a dish that wins over family dinner favorites with ease.

Using fresh basil and nuts like pine nuts or cashews makes the dish affordable yet extraordinary. The mix of garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in the pesto creates a rich flavor. This recipe is great for vegans, dairy-free, and gluten-free diets, making it versatile for any meal.

This recipe is great for meal prep, as the pesto can be stored for up to 5 days or frozen. Making homemade gnocchi with fresh pesto is easy yet satisfying. It’s sure to become a favorite for quick, tasty dinners.


What is Gnocchi?

Gnocchi are soft Italian dumplings made from potatoes, flour, and eggs. They are loved for their softness and how well they take different sauces. Both kids and adults enjoy them.

Why should I use kale pesto in this recipe?

Using kale pesto gives a fresh, healthy twist to the classic basil pesto. It brings a vibrant taste and more health benefits. This makes your Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Gnocchi tastier and healthier.

Can I use store-bought gnocchi for this recipe?

Yes, you can! Brands like Delallo offer great gnocchi that are quick and easy to use. They don’t lose out on taste or quality.

How long does it take to prepare and cook this dish?

It only takes 20 minutes to prepare and cook this dish. It’s perfect for quick dinners during the week.

What kind of milk should I use for the creamy sauce?

Pick any milk you like. Options include dairy like cow’s milk or plant-based like unsweetened almond milk. This lets you choose based on what you prefer.

Can this recipe be made gluten-free?

Yes, just use gluten-free gnocchi and make sure all other ingredients are gluten-free. This way, you can enjoy it even if you have gluten dietary restrictions.

What optional toppings can I add to this dish?

Add toppings like chopped walnuts for a crunchy nuttiness or crispy fried onions for extra texture and taste.

How should I store leftovers?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll stay fresh for 3-5 days. This makes it easy to have this dish again later.

Can I freeze the gnocchi?

Yes, you can freeze it in portions using freezer-safe containers. It stays good for a couple of months. Just thaw it overnight and reheat with a bit of water or milk to refresh the sauce.

How can I make this recipe vegan or dairy-free?

Use plant-based milk, vegan butter, and vegan cheese substitutes like nutritional yeast or dairy-free cheese shreds. This way, you can make it vegan or dairy-free without losing flavor.

What other vegetables or proteins can I add to this recipe?

Add sautéed or roasted veggies like broccoli, broccolini, kale, or spinach. For proteins, try crispy bacon, sautéed chicken, seafood like shrimp or salmon, beans, or roasted chickpeas. This way, you can cater to different tastes and dietary needs.

What side dishes pair well with this gnocchi?

Pair it with a fresh green salad, sautéed greens, grilled veggies like asparagus or zucchini, or toasted bread. These sides complement the Creamy Lemon Kale Pesto Gnocchi well.

Can I use homemade pesto instead of store-bought?

Yes, homemade pesto, like kale or spinach, adds a personal touch. You can also refrigerate or freeze it for later use.

How can I ensure my gnocchi has the perfect texture?

Cook the gnocchi until they float, then sauté them in butter or olive oil. This gives them a crisp outside while keeping the inside soft.

How do I adjust the consistency of the creamy sauce?

To thicken the sauce, cook it longer. To thin it, add more milk. A tablespoon of flour can also help thicken it if needed.