Arugula Pesto Gnocchi with Asparagus and Parmesan
It’s so easy being green with this vibrant pesto gnocchi, an ode to the colors and flavors of spring. We add arugula to the classic blend of basil, Parmesan, toasted pine nuts, and lemon for pepperiness, then toss with pillowy gnocchi and tender sautéed asparagus. It’s a delicious reminder that warmer days and beautiful blooms are right around the corner.
- 8 ounces asparagus
- 3/4 pint grape tomatoes
- 1/4 ounce basil
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 6 ounces baby arugula
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 pounds gnocchi
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat (see recipe tip). Rinse all produce. Trim and discard woody bottoms of asparagus, then cut crosswise on a diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Halve grape tomatoes. Pick basil leaves, discarding stems. If you have a zester and want to infuse your gnocchi with even more lemon flavor, zest up to whole lemon, then halve.
Place pine nuts in a large pan over medium-high heat. Toast, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, 2-4 minutes. Transfer pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside. Add 1.5 tablespoons olive oil to pan, still over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add asparagus, .5 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Sauté, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
Pat arugula dry with paper towel. In a blender or food processor, combine whole garlic cloves, basil, arugula, lemon zest (if using), juice of .5 lemon, half of Parmesan, half of pine nuts, .5 cup olive oil, .5 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Blend until smooth (see recipe tip).
Over a clean, dry surface, use your hands to gently separate gnocchi. Season pot of boiling water generously with salt. Add gnocchi and cook until tender and floating to the surface, 2-3 minutes. Reserve .5 cup gnocchi cooking water (a glass measuring cup is a great tool for this), then drain and return to pot, off heat.
To pot with gnocchi, still off heat, add arugula pesto, grape tomatoes, and half of asparagus and toss to coat. Adding 1 tablespoon at a time, stir in reserved gnocchi cooking water until sauce is silky and clings to gnocchi (see recipe tip).
Cut remaining lemon into wedges for serving. Divide arugula pesto gnocchi among serving bowls and top with remaining asparagus. Garnish with remaining pine nuts and remaining Parmesan. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over. Dig in!
All recipe ingredients should be cooked to a safe internal temperature according to USDA guidelines. After preparing a recipe, please store any leftovers in the refrigerator.