Pesto gnocchi with shrimp (pronounced nyawk-kee — I always want to say it phonetically), was of course inspired by Italy. Duh, you’re probably thinking, however the first time I experienced pesto gnocchi was IN Italy.
Sure I’ve had pesto 1,000 times…and who doesn’t love a hearty dish of gnocchi? Such a simple dish, but so delicious. That’s the interesting thing about authentic Italian cooking. The pasta/pizza recipes are so simple. No chicken Parmesan, no lasagna, just simple dishes with an emphasis on the pasta and a well-crafted homemade sauce.
Pesto gnocchi was served to us on a hiking tour through the villages of Cinque Terre, Italy. We stopped for lunch at Ristorante Cecio in Corniglia, just before embarking on the longest part of the hike.
The restaurant paired this dish with an “optional” citrusy white wine for those of us who weren’t taking the hiking portion too seriously. I put optional in quotes because you’re out of your mind if you’re turning down any wine in Italy, no matter the time of day.
The dish was exceptional. Homemade pesto and freshly made gnocchi. Of course, homemade gnocchi is time consuming and not always an option, so for simplicity, I usually opt for store-bought gnocchi. It’s still delicious, easy to cook and allows you to quickly pull together an authentic Italian dish in about 10 minutes.
How to Make Homemade Pesto
My only rule for this recipe: Don’t buy pre-made pesto…unless it’s very fresh from a local deli or shop. Homemade pesto is very easy to make in a food processor or blender (NutriBullet, Nija WHATEVER) and it’s much more fresh and flavorful than anything you can buy in the grocery store.
Pesto sauce consists of mostly basil and olive oil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. You essentially lightly blend everything together until a smooth, yet slightly granular sauce is formed.
How long can I store fresh pesto? Good question. Pesto freezes well. You can make a larger batch and freeze in small Ziploc baggies for up to 6 months or store in the fridge for about a week.
Take my word for it, if you want to make this dish right and really impress your guests, take the extra 15 minutes to make your own homemade pesto. It will also spread much easier throughout your pasta or gnocchi without clumping up.
For the last step and my own special touch, I added a little cream to add a bit more of a creamy texture to the dish. You can easily substitute chicken for shrimp if you prefer or leave out the protein altogether if you want to simplify things even more.
Pair pesto gnocchi with your favorite Italian white wine and enjoy a gourmet meal that only took about 25 minutes to pull together.Print
- 16 ounces gnocchi
- 1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
- 1/2 cup pesto sauce (use homemade for best results)
- 1/4 cup light cream
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2–3 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cup olive oil (affiliate link)
- salt and pepper to taste
For the pesto
- Combine all pesto ingredients except for the olive oil (affiliate link) in a food processor or blender. Blend until mixed and smooth. With the motor running, add olive oil (affiliate link) in a slow stream until combined. Pesto should not be too soupy or fine. Set aside.
For the gnocchi
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick pan on medium heat. Cook the shrimp until fully cooked through and no longer translucent, about 3-4 minutes per side. Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and add in gnocchi. Boil for about 2 minutes or until gnocchi starts to float to the top. Strain well and transfer to the pan with the shrimp. Turn the heat to low and add in the pesto sauce and cream, stirring until fully green and coated in pesto sauce.
- Let sit on low heat for 2-3 minutes and serve immediately with extra Parmesan cheese on top if desired.
You can easily substitute shrimp for sauteed chicken if you prefer, or leave the protein out altogether.