Creamy Vegan Gnocchi Skillet with Pesto

An overhead shot shows a creamy vegan gnocchi skillet with lentils, peas, and broccoli rabe. The dish is garnished with fresh basil and Aleppo chili flakes. A wooden serving spoon sticks out of the pot.

Ready within 30 minutes, this vegan gnocchi skillet is the perfect hearty dinner for plant-based folks and omnivores alike. It’s made with weeknight cooking-friendly ingredients like canned cooked lentils, frozen peas, vegetable stock, chopped broccoli rabe, and shelf-stable packaged gnocchi. It only requires one skillet on your stovetop! Filled with vegan protein, plenty of veggies, cozy carbs, and the robust flavour of vegan pesto, this luscious and saucy skillet meal is sure to become a new favourite in the dinner rotation!

An up close, overhead shot shows a creamy vegan gnocchi skillet with lentils, peas, and broccoli rabe. The saucy gnocchi dish is garnished with fresh basil and dollops of pesto.
An overhead shot shows ingredients for a vegan gnocchi skillet recipe: frozen peas, spices, broccoli rabe, nutritional yeast, soy milk, garlic, lemon, shallot, pesto, basil, vegetable stock, gnocchi, and cooked lentils.
An overhead shot shows a hand using a wooden utensil to stir lentils and chopped broccoli rabe together in a pot.

One-pot meals are a category that I really want to expand in the repertoire of vegan dinners here. Of course there are plenty in the form of vegan soups, but I want to go beyond that! This vegan gnocchi skillet has all the things. Plant-based protein from canned lentils, plenty of veg in the form of frozen peas, broccoli rabe, and shallots. And of course the comfy gnocchi and creamy sauce. If broccoli rabe is too bitter for your taste, I recommend substituting with chopped broccolini or regular broccoli.

I frequently grab shelf-stable gnocchi at the grocery store! It’s such a great ingredient for weeknight cooking. I do recommend always double checking the ingredients. Lots of them are naturally vegan, but some brands use eggs or dairy-based components. Some store bought gnocchi will contain lactic acid, which can sometimes be dairy-based, but most of the time it isn’t. Favuzzi is a great brand with zero lactic acid.

Some gnocchi skillet recipes call for browning the gnocchi first before proceeding with the  aromatics, broth etc. I found that in working on this recipe in my kitchen, the gnocchi needs a ton of oil in a non-nonstick skillet to execute the browning process. It works well if you have nonstick, but overall I don’t think it’s super necessary for the final result. Skipping this step keeps the cooking time down to 15 minutes.

More One-Pot Vegan Dinner Inspiration:

I season the lentils with a sausage-y inspired mix of garlic, shallots, smoked paprika, fennel and red pepper flakes. I thought about going with a full-on veggie sausage base, but wanted the challenge of a more whole food vegan protein option. The lentils are great with this flavour treatment and go well with the small size of the peas that we add at the end. 

The sauce comes together with the magic of vegan pesto, vegetable stock and any rich, unsweetened non-dairy milk that you like (I prefer soy). The starch from the gnocchi helps to thicken things up a bit at the end. I usually have homemade vegan pesto on hand in my freezer, but there are excellent store bought options these days! Gotham Greens and Sunflower Kitchen make versions that I love. 

This is one of the simpler recipes that I’ve posted in a bit. It would be lovely with my arugula fennel salad and some crusty bread on the side. Hope you love it!

An overhead shot shows a hand using a wooden utensil to stir up a mixture of broccoli rabe, gnocchi, broth, aromatics, and non-dairy milk.
An overhead shot shows frozen peas and pesto being added to a saucy dish in a braiser-style pot.
An overhead shot shows a creamy vegan gnocchi skillet with lentils, peas, and broccoli rabe. The dish is garnished with fresh basil and Aleppo chili flakes. A wooden serving spoon sticks out of the pot.
An overhead shot shows two servings of creamy vegan gnocchi skillet with lentils and broccoli rabe. The dish is creamy and saucy and also features peas. A spoon is sticking out of the one wide serving bowl.

Creamy Vegan Gnocchi Skillet with Pesto, Lentils & Broccoli Rabe

This creamy vegan gnocchi skillet with pesto cooks up in 30 minutes in one pan on the stovetop. The lush creamy sauce is complimented by spices, vegan pesto, hearty lentils, and veg goodness from peas and broccoli rabe.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Servings 3 -4

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • ¾ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup cooked lentils (I used canned brown lentils)
  • ½ bunch broccoli rabe, chopped (225 grams)
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 500-gram package vegan potato gnocchi (see notes)
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable stock, plus extra
  • 1 cup unsweetened rich non-dairy milk such as soy or cashew
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup vegan pesto
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • chopped fresh basil for garnish
  • vegan “parmesan”, for serving

Notes

  • Shelf-stable packaged gnocchi is such a great ingredient for weeknight cooking! I recommend always double checking the ingredients. Lots of them are naturally vegan, but some brands do use eggs or dairy-based ingredients. Some store bought gnocchi will contain lactic acid, which can sometimes be dairy-based, but most of the time it isn’t. Favuzzi is a great brand with zero lactic acid.
  • This dish is great with a sprinkle of vegan parm on top!
  • If you find broccoli rabe too bitter, you can substitute chopped broccolini or regular broccoli.
  • I make my own pesto and freeze it for future use, but Gotham Greens and Sunflower Kitchen both make excellent store bought versions.

Instructions

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in the olive oil and swirl it around. Add the shallots and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, nutritional yeast, fennel seeds, smoked paprika, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  • Add the lentils and broccoli rabe and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Add the gnocchi back into the skillet along with the vegetable stock and non-dairy milk. Stir to combine. Submerge the gnocchi in the liquid as best you can, adding more stock if necessary. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

  • Add the frozen peas and pesto to the skillet and stir to combine. Simmer until peas are tender and bright green, about another 2 minutes. The gnocchi should be tender but not gummy at this point, which is perfect! Stir in the lemon juice. Check the sauce for seasoning and adjust if necessary (more salt, pepper, lemon).

  • Serve the gnocchi skillet hot with chopped fresh basil and vegan parm on top.

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