Mini Gnocchi cooked in a creamy pesto sauce with quick carrots and peas done in 25 minutes. This is a great weeknight dish with so little prep involved and minimal time cooking over the stove. The gnocchi takes only 2-3 minutes to cook, and otherwise you are warming together heavy cream, pesto, peas and sliced cooked baby carrots.
Gnocchi are little Italian dumplings made with potato, flour, and salt, and can be used in any number of dishes, like my favorites Italian Gnocchi Stir Fry or Crispy Gnocchi in a Browned Butter Sage Sauce. In this Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Peas and Carrots recipe, the gnocchi are simply boiled and covered in a delicious creamy pesto sauce.
I love to make homemade pesto using fresh basil from the garden in the summer, or store-bought basil during the rest of the year. It’s really fresh and takes less then 10 minutes to put together. It can be the one thing to really make a meal.
Toss fresh basil, freshly grated parmesan cheese, 1 small clove of garlic (middle stem removed), and pine nuts (optional, if you have them), a pinch of salt and some good quality olive oil in a blender and you’re done. That’s it. Super simple.
Store-bought pesto, however, is a great alternative if you really want to make this a super quick dinner. Grab a jar and add the pesto to warm heavy cream in a large sauté pan and you’ve got a great and simple sauce that is ready in all of 3 minutes.
Choosing Basil for Pesto
Where possible use fresh basil leaves the same day that you buy them from the store. The leaves are fresher and crisper and will have yet to wilt. Choose bright green leaves. I err on the side of choosing smaller basil leaves, rather than the really large ones (though of course you're at the mercy of what they sell at the store). The smaller leaves tend to be sweeter and less bitter.
Cost: I've found that the best place to get basil in terms of price is Trader Joes. You can get a large pack of basil for around $3.00, whereas at a place like Target you get less than half the amount, maybe a quarter of the amount for the same price.
Parmesan for the Pesto
If you’re making homemade pesto rather than store bought, be sure to select a good quality wedge of parmesan. Grating it yourself does take some time, but not a lot, and will reward you with a really great tasting pesto free of any anti-caking additives.
I love the parmesan at Trader Joes because it is flavorful, but not overly intense so that I can add a good amount of it without it overtaking the taste of the fresh basil. However, there are lots of great options, or ones that are stronger in flavor that would work well too if that’s you’re preference.
I specifically chose mini gnocchis for this dish because I loved the idea of all of the pieces of the dish being small and about the same size: the mini gnocchi, the peas, and the sliced carrots – all tiny. You could of course choose regular sized gnocchi which would be great too. You can find the mini gnocchi at Whole Foods in the pasta aisle made by Pastificio G. DiMartino.
I’ve found great (regular sized) gnocchi at Trader Joes and Whole Foods as well as other local grocery stores. However, It can be very hard to find at Target.
Yet the best store-bought gnocchi that I’ve had is from a local Italian deli/market that makes homemade ravioli as well as other pastas. The pasta is fantastic, but they make the best, BEST gnocchi, definitely better than what you find in the grocery store (which is already quite good). So, if you have an Italian pasta shop near you check it out to see if they make gnocchi too. Then stock up!
Creamy Pesto Gnocchi Sauce
Pesto Cream Sauce is made by simply combining pesto and heavy cream on low heat in a pan. This low heat makes the sauce SO good because it is just enough heat to melt the parmesan in the pesto into the sauce making it creamier and richer. Any hotter than low heat and you may ended up accidentally cooking the basil in the pesto.
This recipe calls for a creamy pesto sauce that is 1 cup pesto, 1 cup heavy cream. This is the best ratio of pesto to cream because there is plenty of pesto sauce with great basil flavor, yet its still nice and creamy. I have also made this recipe using 1 ½ cups pesto to 1 cup heavy cream and it was way too rich. I prefer the sauce just a little bit lighter and creamier.
Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Peas and Carrots - Step by Step Photos:
Boil the sliced baby carrots. Cook the Mini Gnocchi according to the package directions.
Typically, boil the gnocchi for 2-3 minutes. Remove the gnocchi.
Add heavy cream to a large sauté pan on low heat. Add the pesto.
Stir to combine the heavy cream and pesto. Add the gnocchi, baby carrots, and warmed peas.
Stir to combine. Serve warm.
If you're looking for other gnocchi or Italian recipes, you may love these:
Italian Gnocchi Stir Fry: Crispy Gnocchi in a white wine butter sauce with tomatoes, sausage and baby broccoli.
Gnocchi and Baby Broccoli in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce: Super simple, super fast crispy gnocchi in a brown butter sage sauce with baby broccoli. A great date night at home meal (we make this all the time after the kids are in bed).
Sun Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken Sausage: Sauce made from sun dried tomatoes and heavy cream over pasta with chicken sausage and peas. Comes together quickly, family favorite.
If you make this gnocchi dish, I'd love to hear from you and learn how it went. Leave a comment down below and let me know how it turns out! Your feedback means a lot!
Creamy Pesto Gnocchi
- ½ 1 lb bag baby carrots, thinly sliced
- 2 lbs mini gnocchi (Pastificio G. De Martino at Whole Foods) or regular size gnocchi
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup pesto, store bought or homemade
- Parmesan, grated for sprinkling, optional
- Place the baby carrots in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil on high heat. Cook for 8-10 minutes, remove from heat, drain and set aside.
- Cook the mini gnocchi according to the package directions. Typically, boil for 2-3 minutes.
- Place the peas in a small microwavable bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave for 30 more seconds.
- In a large sauté pan on low heat (heat setting of ~2 out of scale of 10) add the heavy cream. Allow to warm through 2-3 minutes. Add the pesto and stir. Add the gnocchi, carrots, and peas. Stir and allow to warm through 2-3 more minutes. Serve while warm.