This incredible, creamy Tuscan gnocchi with spinach and cherry tomatoes is exquisitely rich and full of fresh, bright vegetables! It’s so easy to prepare, feeds 4 lucky guests and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare! It’s such an impressive, colorful, decadent Italian dinner!
I love that this can be an easy, lazy Tuesday night meal or a truly elegant, impressive dinner party entrée. The key is to add the tomatoes and basil at the very end so that they’re only just warmed, and not cooked. It makes this recipe taste so fresh and delightful!
If you’d like a few appetizer ideas to serve before this gorgeous entrée, I would suggest something special in pesto, like my scallop amuse-bouche, small turkey meatballs or these beautiful pesto ricotta crostini!
Why This Recipe is Special
It’s simply beautiful – Your guests will look at this gnocchi like Cinderella arriving at the ball: starry-eyed and breathless. It’s just stunning.
Really, it takes less than 30 minutes to make – How could something so beautiful and delicious take so little time to make? Cheese, cream, carbs and delicious vegetables don’t require a whole lotta kitchen magic. They’re quite perfect as they come. Just a little chop’n, grate’n, melt’n, boil’n and mix’n. Bing, bang, boom, MAGNIFICENCE!
It can be easily saved and baked later – This recipe is quite filling. If you end up with leftovers, simply refrigerate and bake later! Instructions in the “Common Questions” below.
chicken broth – If you want to make this recipe vegetarian, simply substitute with vegetable broth.
cherry tomatoes – I highly suggest finding multi-colored tomatoes. They just look so bright and pretty!
gnocchi – I used a simple, frozen gnocchi for this recipe, but if you would like to make yours from scratch, take a look at Emily’s potato gnocchi recipe at Inside the Rustic Kitchen.
basil – even though Italian seasoning includes dry basil, we’re still adding fresh basil as well to really push the flavor.
spinach – Fresh is best, but you can also use frozen. Just be sure to thaw it and use full leaf spinach, instead of chopped.
parmesan – If you want to make this recipe truly vegetarian, you’ll need to find a vegetarian parmesan. Parmesan contains animal rennet so, surprisingly to some, it isn’t vegetarian. Luckily, you can find parmesans that use vegetable rennet like BelGioioso’s vegetarian parmesan.
How to Make This Recipe – Step by Step
1. Dice 1 small red onion, set aside.
2. Coarsely chop 3 cups fresh spinach, packed. Set aside.
3. Grate ½ cup fresh parmesan. Set aside.
4. Finely chop ¼ cup fresh basil. Set aside.
5. Slice ½ cup cherry tomatoes. Set aside.
6. In a sauté pan, add 1 tbsp. olive oil and diced onion. Allow it to sauté for 3 minutes. Then, place chopped spinach on top. Allow it to sauté with onion for 2-3 minutes. Remove both from pan and set aside.
7. Place a pot on another burner and begin to boil enough water to cover your gnocchi while you prepare the sauce.
8. To the sauté pan, add 1 cup heavy cream, ½ cup chicken broth, grated parmesan, 1 tsp. garlic powder and 1 tsp. Italian seasoning. Over MEDIUM-HIGH heat, use a spatula to move and stir the sauce for 10-12 minutes until thick and bubbly. Turn off heat and cover with a lid when ready.
9. Once water is boiling, pour in 15 oz. gnocchi. Be sure to check the directions on your package, but they usually take about 2-3 minutes to boil. Once finished, strain pasta.
10. Under the sauté pan, turn on a LOW heat. Add spinach, onions, fresh basil, cherry tomatoes and gnocchi to the sauce. Gently stir for 1 minute, sprinkle with salt & pepper and serve.
Bake at 350 F. (175 C.) for 20 minutes. It’s also nice to sprinkle a little more parmesan on top first so the top gets nice and crispy.
Store in a covered, refrigerated container for 7 days.
Yes, it can! It can be made a whole day ahead of time, refrigerated in a container with a lid, and reheated in a pan for about 3-4 minutes. It will have to be re-salted because it will lose a little flavor when stored over night, but it will be just as good as fresh. Just make sure to continuously stir it in the pan when reheating so that the cheese doesn’t bake to the bottom of the pan as it heats.
According to walksitaly.com, “Tuscan cooking doesn’t use complicated seasonings or elaborate creations because they’re not needed. Instead, it’s made using fresh, high-quality ingredients that bring out the natural flavors in each dish.”
Garlic and simple spices like oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary are all that’s needed. It’s really all about the fresh vegetables, Italian herbs and simplicity that makes it “Tuscan.”
A Few Tips
1. Don’t boil that gnocchi more than it should be.
It cooks very quickly and gets very soft if overcooked. It will just be a pile of hot, wet dough if it boils longer than it should, so take it out right away.
Also, don’t wait for them to “rise” to know if they’re done. Directions often mention this, but nope – it’s the time that they’re in the water, not whether they float to the top or not, that determines when they’re done.
2. Save a few extra cherry tomatoes to pop on top.
To make it extra pretty, save a few sliced cherry tomatoes just to pop on top, that aren’t saucy like the rest. They really turn up the saturation on the whole meal!
A Few Recipes to Pair With Your Pasta
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Tuscan Gnocchi with Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes
- sharp knife and cutting board
- cheese grater
- sauté pan
- pot – large enough to boil 15 oz. of gnocchi
- mixing spoon
- 15 oz. gnocchi
- 1 small red onion – diced
- 3 cups fresh spinach – chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil – finely chopped
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes – sliced
- ½ cup fresh parmesan – grated
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- salt & pepper – to taste
- Coarsely dice 1 small red onion, coarsely chop 3 cups fresh spinach, grate ½ cup fresh parmesan, finely chop ¼ cup fresh basil and slice ½ cup cherry tomatoes. Keep each separate.
- In a sauté pan, add 1 tbsp. olive oil and diced onion. Allow it to sauté for 3 minutes. Then, place chopped spinach on top. Allow it to sauté with onion for 2-3 minutes. Remove both from pan and set aside.
- Place a pot on another burner and begin to boil enough water to cover your gnocchi while you prepare the sauce.
- To the sauté pan, add 1 cup heavy cream, ½ cup chicken broth, grated parmesan, 1 tsp. garlic powder and 1 tsp. Italian seasoning. Over MEDIUM-HIGH heat, use a spatula to move and stir the sauce for 10-12 minutes until thick and bubbly. Turn off heat and cover with a lid when ready.
- Once water is boiling, pour in 15 oz. gnocchi. Be sure to check the directions on your package, but they usually take about 2-3 minutes to boil. Once finished, strain pasta.
- Under the sauté pan, turn on a LOW heat. Add spinach, onions, fresh basil, cherry tomatoes and gnocchi to the sauce. Gently stir for 1 minute, sprinkle with salt & pepper and serve.