Get ready to indulge in a dairy-free and vegan version of this classic Italian dish consisting of gnocchi - miniature potato dumplings - cooked to a pillowy soft perfection in a rich and flavorful tomato-based sauce that boasts a secret ingredient: carrots. Each spoonful of these gnocchi in creamy sauce melts in your mouth. This dish is hearty, comforting, and perfect for a cozy meal at home.
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What Are Gnocchi? And Is it Pasta?
Gnocchi are little soft dumplings made of flour and potatoes that originated in the Italian kitchen.
The original recipe version often contains eggs, but gnocchi can be easily made without them, and nowadays, many brands cater to vegan people.
The big question is: Are gnocchi pasta? Well, it's a bit complicated. 😉 Some say they are since they contain a big portion of flour, while others (the purist pasta aficionados) argue they are not because of the potatoes.
Either way, they are so delicious that they don't need a specific label. Just enjoy them with all your senses and don't stress about whether it's pasta or not.
You can easily make gnocchi at home, but I usually don't bother because store-bought gnocchi are really good. I prefer organic ones, and if I can find some made by an Italian company (like Probios gnocchi), I'll definitely choose those – they never disappoint.
Plus, the Probios gnocchi are gluten-free, and you can't even tell because they are crafted so well. The brand also offers whole-grain vegan gnocchi that taste amazing, but sadly, I've only seen them in Italy, not in German stores.
Speaking of gluten-intolerance: If you need to be careful about it, there's a good chance you can find gluten-free gnocchi at the store (or online) because many brands offer them, not just Probios.
Whether you label gnocchi as pasta or not, they are often served in a similar way to pasta. Anything you enjoy with pasta pairs well with gnocchi, such as roasted vegetables (like eggplant, broccoli, or mushrooms), or any pasta sauce or pesto.
There really is no one "best" sauce for gnocchi (or pasta, for that matter), as it depends on personal preferences. However, here are some popular sauces to go with gnocchi: tomato sauce, cream sauce, sage sauce, or vegan cacio e pepe sauce.
Tomato sauce with gnocchi is known as "gnocchi pomodoro" ("pomodoro" means tomato in Italian). That's exactly what this gnocchi sauce recipe is all about. Since I'm adding cream to it, it becomes a creamy pomodoro gnocchi sauce.
And now to the next big question ...
Cooking or Pan-Frying Gnocchi?
Gnocchi can be prepared in two ways: either by cooking or pan-frying them. While both cooked and pan-fried gnocchi are delicious in their own right, they offer distinct flavors and textures.
Most people are familiar with pan-fried gnocchi with sage. This recipe introduced me to the cozy comfort of gnocchi.
If you prefer a crispy and savory experience, pan-fried gnocchi is a fantastic choice. It delivers a lovely combination of savory and earthy flavors. If you're in the mood for pan-fried gnocchi, you may want to try Lemony gnocchi with sage or Gnocchi with Brussels sprouts and dried tomatoes.
However, gnocchi can also be cooked, just like pasta, and then enjoyed with any sauce or pesto you would typically add to your pasta.
To sum it up: Whether to cook or pan-fry gnocchi depends on your momentary craving.
The recipe below showcases gnocchi cooked in a creamy carrot tomato sauce, resulting in a cozy and comforting dish. It is perfect for those who appreciate tomato-based sauces and enjoy the soft texture of dumplings.
What This Recipe Is About and Why People Love It
Let me introduce you to my beloved recipe for vegan gnocchi with creamy tomato sauce, the Italian classic featuring tender potato dumplings cooked in a velvety tomato sauce. The vegan version is just as delicious as the original recipe.
The magic happens in the sauce - canned tomatoes, garlic, onion, and plant-based cream make it rich. But my secret twist? Carrots. They bring sweetness and creaminess, making the sauce burst with flavor and veggies.
For a quick meal, grab store-bought gnocchi. Once your sauce is ready, toss the gnocchi in and cook until they're soft. That's it! Fast (less than 30 minutes) and easy (everything is happening in one pan).
Serve it hot, maybe with vegan Parmesan (store-bought or home-made), and fresh herbs like basil or thyme.
What Goes Well with These Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce?
I like eating these gnocchi as a main dish because they are hearty and filling. If you'd like to add something, here are some suggestions of what goes well with them:
- A side salad
A side salad can help balance out the richness of the creamy gnocchi sauce. A simple green salad or a cucumber and tomato salad would be a great choice.
- Soft bread
I like having Ciabatta or baguette with these gnocchi for a more satisfying meal. The bread is also great for mopping up any leftover sauce.
- Crispy garlic bread
Good news for all garlic lovers: These tomato sauce gnocchi pair wonderfully with a nice slice of garlic bread. If you wonder how to make one, nothing's more straightforward than that. Just toast some slices of white bread and brush them with garlic and olive oil.
One-Pan Vegan Gnocchi Sauce With Veggies (Under 30 Minutes!)
- 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 yellow onions
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 medium carrots
- 700 g - 800g canned chunky tomatoes (about 2 cans) or tomato passata (1 bottle)
- 4 teaspoons of dried herbs de Provence or Italian herbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 800 g vegan gnocchi* (Make sure they are egg-free; for a gluten-free dish, buy a gluten-free variety)
- 200 ml vegan cooking cream** (I use soy cream)
- 1 teaspoon sweetener of choice
- 2-3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, roasted pine nuts, or fresh herbs as a topping, optional
- Start by preparing the vegetables. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic cloves. Peel and dice the carrots into small pieces.
- For the sauce, sauté the chopped onions with the olive oil in a large skillet or pan for a couple of minutes until they become translucent.
- Add the diced carrots and chopped garlic to the pan and continue to cook for a few minutes until the garlic turns golden brown and smells nice and the carrots start to get soft.
- Pour in the canned tomatoes (or tomato passata), the dried herbs, salt, pepper, and sweetener of choice, and mix well with the sautéed vegetables. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes with the lid on, allowing the flavors to meld together.
- Add the gnocchi to the sauce and toss them gently to coat evenly. Allow them to cook together for another 5 minutes until they are pillowy soft.
- Serve and enjoy with your favorite toppings.
Variations on the Gnocchi Sauce
There are many ways you can switch up this sauce. Try adding one of the following to create a yummy variation:
- Red bell peppers
You can swap one of the carrots or both for red bell peppers. Keep in mind that bell peppers cook faster than carrots.
Spinach provides a nice contrast to the rich tomato sauce and adds healthy greens. Simply stir the spinach into the sauce once the gnocchi are soft and simmer for 1-2 more minutes.
- Roasted cherry tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes
Roast about 1 kg (about 2 pounds) cherry tomatoes in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper until they are caramelized, and then add them to the sauce. They bring a sweet and smoky flavor to the dish.
- Vegan sausage
You can use your favorite vegan sausage or crumbled tofu to add some protein to the dish and make it more filling. Simply add it to the tomato sauce along with the gnocchi.
- Green pesto
Bring a bright and fresh flavor to the dish by topping it with a spoonful of your favorite vegan green pesto. Basil pesto is the most popular, but you can also use other green pestos, such as parsley pesto or even pesto made of carrot greens.
- Vegan ricotta
Make the dish extra rich and decadent by stirring some vegan ricotta into the tomato sauce along with the gnocchi.
- Vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
A sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese or plain nutritional yeast on top of the dish adds a salty and nutty flavor that pairs well with the tomato sauce.
For a bit of heat, add some red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños to the sauce. Just be sure to taste as you go to avoid making the dish too spicy.
Olives can add an extra layer of complexity and depth to the dish, giving it an extra special Mediterranean touch. Both green and black olives work well.
I drew inspiration from many recipes online and would like to highlight two: Jamie Oliver's Sweet Tomato Gnocchi and Bianca Zapatka's Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce. I love that Jamie Oliver paired the dish with fried asparagus and a spinach hazelnut pesto, while Bianca Zapatka's recipe is a beautiful basic vegan version of the classic Italian dish. By the way, if you want to give home-made gnocchi a try, check out Jamie Oliver's Potato Gnocchi or Bianca Zapatka's easy gnocchi recipe.
Buon appetito! Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Wishing you planty of delicious dumpling delights,