Cheats’ gnocchi with pesto recipe

(69 ratings)

This recipe for 'cheats' Gnocchi with pesto is great for a quick and easy weekday dinner, it looks impressive but is easy to make.

Preparation Time10 mins
Cooking Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Cost RangeCheap

Gnocchi – which means dumplings in Italian – are made from potatoes and flour. They are easy

enough to make, although we use bought gnocchi here, and should be light and fluffy (like pillows).

Pesto, too, is very simple; it comes originally from Genoa in northern Italy and traditionally is made

with basil, garlic and pine nuts crushed and blended with Parmesan and olive oil. But there are

times when you have to cheat and this dish is fantastic for making it look as if you have spent hours

in the kitchen by opening a few packets; but it is all in the presentation.


  • 2 x 400g packets of fresh potato gnocchi
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 130g pot fresh basil pesto
  • 30g watercress, washed and ready to eat
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • freshly grated Parmesan to serve




  1. Cook the gnocchi according to packet instructions (they are usually ready when they float to the top) and drain. Meanwhile, tip the pine nuts into a non-stick frying pan and cook gently until they are roasted and golden, stirring frequently (keep an eye on them as they scorch quite quickly). Tip the pasta back into the saucepan and stir in the pesto.
  2. Spoon into warm bowls, sprinkle with pine nuts and arrange a little watercress on top. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve with freshly grated Parmesan.
Top Tip for making Cheats’ gnocchi with pesto

The hard cheese we call Parmesan is known as Parmigiano Reggiano in Italy because it is made around Parma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna and Modena, all in Emilia-Romagna; Parmigiano is the Italian adjective for Parma, Parmesan the French name for the cheese which we have adopted in Britain. So if it says Parmigiano Reggiano on the label (or in the rind) it’s Parmesan!


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