Creamy Vegan Gnocchi Skillet with Pesto, Lentils & Broccoli Rabe

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 14 votes

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 in the form of peas and broccoli rabe.

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.
5 from 14 votes
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.
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 to the skillet along with the vegetable stock and non-dairy milk. Stir to combine. Submerge the gnocchi and veg in the liquid as best you can, adding more stock if necessary. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring here and there.
  • 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.
06/03/2024
Posted in: autumn, creamy, lentils, main course, nut free, quick, refined sugar-free, salty, spring, vegan, winter

12 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Larissa

    5 stars
    This was an incredible week-night dinner. I was shocked that it came together so quickly, with such little mess and prep!

    My husband really loved it and the kids ate it all! (My one sub was broccoli instead of broccoli table for the kids, sad)

    Thanks Laura, such a great weekday dinner!

    • Laura Wright

      So, so glad that you enjoyed it, Larissa! Thanks for leaving this review :)
      -L

  • Jennifer

    5 stars
    This is delicious! I used regular broccoli I had par boiled and it worked well. Thank you!

    • Laura Wright

      So glad that it worked out! Thanks so much for leaving this comment and review :)
      -L

  • Claudia

    5 stars
    Wow!!! Will be bringing this for Easter dinner. I made my own pesto and have another 1/2 cup for the freezer. Also made the cashew cream/milk. Absolutely jammed packed with flavor. Once again, another winner!!! Thank you, Laura.

  • Celia

    5 stars
    so many flavors going on…so darn good! I made the lentils the day before, and then everything was very easy to put together. I live alone so I’ll be eating this all week, and I’m not complaining!!!!

  • Nina

    5 stars
    Made this tonight after working out and it was the perfect meal. It was very quick to make, very filling and comforting, and SO good ! This was exactly what I needed !

  • Laura

    5 stars
    This recipe was so easy to prepare (the pesto, broccoli, onion and garlic are literally the only non-pantry prep) I wasn’t sure how it would come together, but even before I added the pesto i was blown away by the flavour. I actually said “WOW” out loud several times during my first bites. Highly recommend!

  • Cam

    5 stars
    I had no idea what to expect from this recipe–I don’t think I’ve ever cooked or had anything like this before–but I am SO glad I tried it. The gnocchi and greens go so well together, and the sauce really is super rich, flavorful, herby, and just all around delicious. I couldn’t believe something so tasty and comforting could come together so quickly. This definitely will become a weeknight staple for me! :-)

  • Ron

    I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but will definitely do so. In your instructions, you write “Add the gnocchi *back* into the skillet along with the vegetable stock and non-dairy milk,” but you don’t say *back* from where. Back from being cooked already? I appreciate any clarification. Thanks.

    • Laura Wright

      Thanks for catching this Ron! The phrasing was from an earlier draft of the recipe. You’re just adding it from the package to the skillet. Easy-peasy!
      -L

  • Caitríona

    5 stars
    I just made something very similar 2 nights ago! But my version was a little more labour intensive – I baked the gnocchi in the oven (with about a quarter teaspoon of olive oil), made, in my vitamix, a creamy pesto sauce of pine nuts, cashews, basil, lemon, nutritional yeast, roast garlic, the water from cooking cannellini beans, and the (very little) water from cooking chopped broccoli, then combined the whole lot in the beans pot.
    I will definitely try this version next time!
    (Sorry, I clicked the stars in excitement and then couldn’t unclick them! But I just know your recipe is excellent!)