Gnocchi W/ A Zesty-Spinach Pesto Sauce! (Vegan)

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 2
Yields: about 350ml pesto.
Prep & Cooking Time: 30-40 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, manual juicer, food processor, silicone spatula, resealable container, non-stick pot, colander, mixing bowl

Notes: This meal contains: Vitamin A, B-vitamins, Vitamins C, K & E, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, no added sugars and a moderate quantity of fat per serving.

This is a simple, stodgy and satisfying Italian-inspired meal. The pesto sauce is refreshing, creamy, nutritious and the perfect accompaniment for your gnocchi; you can even make it the night before if you are short on time!

Quick Foodie Facts:

  • Pesto is a lovely addition to many recipes, but it’s naturally high in fat (from the oil, nuts and traditionally added cheeses). It can contain some ‘good fats’ (mono and polyunsaturated) from the added nuts and/or oil, but unless you are making it with hard cheeses (and being mindful of your overall ingredients), high saturated fat contents start making an appearance. Nonetheless, it is something that can be enjoyed in moderation (just be mindful of your portion sizes)!
  • Gnocchi are small Italian dumplings, traditionally made with potato, flour, egg and seasoning. However, some store-bought gnocchi can contain lactose or milk proteins and most brands use ‘wheat flour’; if you have dietary requirements, make sure to check the label before throwing them into your supermarket basket!

They can be a great alternative to pasta and rice (be mindful though, as some brands contain a fair bit of added salt/serving)! …Which is why you should try making it yourself! We have tried to make it on a few occasions, but the final product still needs some perfecting! With any recipe, it can take practice, patience and perseverance! Luckily potatoes and flour are relatively inexpensive, so you won’t break the bank trying! 

Happy cooking everyone and buona cena!




+++++++++++++++++65g        Baby Spinach Leaves
+++++++++++++++++60g        Fresh Basil
+++++++++++++++++12g          Garlic Clove
+++++++++++++++++1              Lemon (zest & juice)
+++++++++++++++++80ml      Extra Virgin Olive Oil
+++++++++++++++++                Salt & Ground Black Pepper
+++++++++++++++++40g         Pine Nuts
+++++++++++++++++160ml     Water
+++++++++++++++++200g       Plain Soya Yoghurt (unsweetened & fortified)
+++++++++++++++++200g       Gnocchi (Vegan; GF if preferred)

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂



Wash and dry the spinach and basil. Peel the garlic. Wash the lemon, grate some zest and then juice it. Tip: We used all of the zest and juice from the lemon, but feel free to use less (or more!) if preferred.



Prepare The Pesto

  • Place 40ml olive oil into a food processor. Add the lemon zest and juice (as much as desired). Blend until blitzed! Whilst the food processor is still running, add the garlic. Blend until the garlic is minced.
  • Add the nuts and 160ml cold water.
  • Blend until smooth and creamy. Scrape the mixture off the sides into the bottom using a silicone spatula. Season it with some salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the spinach and basil. Tip: Use the basil leaves and stems! We gently ripped some of the basil prior to adding it to the food processor. Blend until creamy NB: there will still be a few bits present.
  • Add the remaining 40ml oil and an additional 2 tbsp of water.
  • Blend until combined. Tip: Add more water if a thinner pesto is preferred. Taste and season as you go.
  • Transfer the pesto into a resealable container (as you won’t be using all of it today!)



Decision time! You can simply just prepare the sauce and the gnocchi …or organise a few extra veggies to add to this meal!

Veggies rule so go on and fill your boots!

The veggies that we chose to use included: 160g Frozen green beans, 80g Chestnut mushrooms, 20g Sun-dried tomatoes, 40g Shallot, 10-20g Spinach leaves!



See our pot?? The gnocchi will initially sink to the bottom and then rise to the top!

  • Place a large saucepan full of cold water over a medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Tip: Our pot of water took about 10 mins to boil! It was just enough time to prep your veggies! Add the gnocchi. Cook according to the packet instructions (ours took 3 mins). Tip: Once gnocchi starts to rise to the surface of the pot, they’re done!. Drain.
  • In the meantime, prepare any veggies you plan on using! We gently fried some shallot and chestnut mushrooms, steamed some green beans, drained and diced some sun-dried tomatoes and shredded some baby spinach.



Assemble The ‘Pesto Sauce’

Place 200g yoghurt into a large measuring jug. Add about 100g of the pesto. Mix until combined.



Assemble The Dish

  • Place the cooked gnocchi into a large mixing bowl. NB: We added some spinach at this stage and mixed it through. If you are not adding ‘greens’, just add the sauce.  Tip: The hot gnocchi will allow the spinach to wilt slightly.
  • Add the sauce. Mix to coat.
  • If applicable, add any other prepared veggies. Mix together. Taste and season it as necessary.



Ladle the gnocchi mixture into a serving bowl. Garnish with some sun-dried tomatoes whatever else takes your fancy! Tip: For fewer calories (and a pop of colour!), try using some: diced red bell pepper, sweet paprika or some baby plum or cherry tomatoes.

Based on the amount of pesto, yoghurt and gnocchi we used, each serving contains approximately: <400kcal, (extra ingredients not included…although adding some cooked, fresh or frozen vegetables is negligible!).


Refrigerate the remaining pesto; consume within 3-5 days. Try using it on pasta, in a lasagne, wrap or sandwich, as a dip with some crudities or run a bit through some steamed vegetables.


If preferred…

  • Pesto is versatile! Try making it with different vegetables, herbs and/or nuts/seed combinations. Try experimenting with: kale, wild rocket, sun-dried tomato, cooked beetroot, roasted aubergine, fresh coriander or parsley or some ground almonds, walnuts or pistachios instead!
  • For a low-fat version, use less pesto/sauce or just drizzle your gnocchi with a little ‘herby’ oil and a top with a few veggies of choice! Alternatively use a basic (low fat/sugar) tomato-based sauce, ‘creamy-broccoli’, roasted red pepper, a roasted squash and sage sauce, or a ‘cheesy’, low-fat and DF white sauce made (with DF milk, nutritional yeast and flavourings of choice)!

Vegan & Gluten Free Asparagus Pesto Pasta

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 8
Prep & Cooking Time: 35-45 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, grater, colander, large pot, food processor, silicone spatula, small bowl, measuring jug, mixing bowl and/or resealable container

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C, E & K, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, no added sugars and per serving is low in salt and saturated fats!

This pesto offers a nice alternative to other vegan pesto salads that use avocado, spinach or roasted vegetables. It has a lovely, fresh and uniquely satisfying taste, not to mention it’s easy to prepare!  

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂



+++++++++++++++++++++++520g    Asparagus
+++++++++++++++++++++++16g       Garlic Clove
+++++++++++++++++++++++1           Lemon (30ml Juice, 1 tsp zest)
+++++++++++++++++++++++25g       Fresh Basil
+++++++++++++++++++++++400g    Fresh Tomatoes (your favourite!)
+++++++++++++++++++++++4g         Ground Almonds
+++++++++++++++++++++++40g      Pine Nuts
+++++++++++++++++++++++520g    GF Fusilli
+++++++++++++++++++++++40ml    Extra Virgin Olive Oil
+++++++++++++++++++++++2g         Dried Onion Powder
+++++++++++++++++++++++             Salt

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂


Nutritional Info



  • Wash the asparagus; trim and discard the ends.
  • Peel the garlic. Wash the lemon; grate the zest from half of it and then juice it. Wash and dry the basil; discard the stems and save the leaves. Wash, remove the stem and then roughly chop the tomatoes.
  • Meanwhile, place a large, non-stick saucepan full of cold water over a high heat. Bring to the boil. Add the asparagus. Simmer for 3-5 mins, or until tender. Tip: Ours took about 4½ mins to cook, but it’s finding a happy balance. Cook them too long and the tips disintegrate, not long enough and the ends do not blend very well into the pesto. 
  • Remove the asparagus from the pot, but do not empty the water from the pot. Transfer into a colander. Drain. Allow to cool slightly.



  • Meanwhile, begin preparing the pesto. Whilst the food processor is running, add the garlic through the pouring spout. Blitz into small pieces.
  • Use a spatula and scrape the garlic from the slides and the lid into the base.
  • Add about ¾  of the quantity of the pine nuts and all of the almonds.
  • Blitz until the pine nuts are roughly chopped. Leave the mixture for the moment.


In the meantime, bring the saucepan of water back up to a boil. Add the pasta. Cook according to the packet instructions. Reserve some of the cooking liquid from the saucepan (approximately ½ cup) before draining. Tip: We removed some liquid about halfway through the cooking time; save more liquid if you want a really ‘loose pesto’. Drain. Allow to cool slightly.


  • Meanwhile, chop the asparagus stalks into halves. Separate the ‘top’ halves from the ‘bottoms’.
  • Chop the bottom halves into small pieces.
  • Chop the top halves into thirds.



  • Add 1 tsp lemon zest & 2 tbsp juice (or as much zest and juice as desired), basil, about 10 tbsp of the reserved cooking liquid (more if necessary), 40ml oil, about ¾ tsp onion powder and the ‘asparagus bottoms’ into the food processor.
  • Blend until smooth. Season it with some salt to taste. Tip: Your pesto is now complete!
  • Place the pasta into a large mixing bowl or resealable container. Add the pesto. Mix and thoroughly combine. NB: Ours went into this plastic tub (as it was going to be several lunches throughout the week!).
  • Add the tomatoes and asparagus ‘tops’. Mix to combine.
  • Season it with some salt to taste if necessary. Sprinkle over the remaining nuts.



Serve and enjoy!

NB: This bowl provides 1 portion (based on 8 servings!). This pasta has been refrigerated overnight. If desired, re-freshen your ‘next day’ pasta with a bit of lemon juice, ground black pepper and dried basil.


Refrigerate any leftovers in an air-tight and resealable container; consume within 3-4 days.


If preferred…

  • Make the pesto sauce and serve it over gnocchi, spaghetti or in a lasagne instead.
  • If you are not concerned about gluten, give wholemeal or spelt pasta a try!
  • Add some fortified nutritional yeast (with vitamin B12!) to your pesto for a more authentic taste and of course added nutritional value!
  • Try making it with just ground almonds.
  • For an extra creamy pesto sauce (minus the guilty calories!), add some unsweetened soya yoghurt; add the yoghurt to the food processor when processing the final ingredients.
  • Use the pesto sauce as a dip for vegetables or multi-grain pita. If necessary or preferred, just add a little arrowroot powder to thicken it in a blender/food processor first.


This recipe was adapted from: fatfreevegan