This creamy vegan gnocchi is easy to make, delicious, and the perfect meal for a casual weeknight or that special date night! Fragrant garlic, juicy tomatoes, and fresh basil make this creamy gnocchi one for the books! The secret to this vegan creaminess … Cashews, but you would never know! As mentioned, this meal is vegan, can easily be made gluten free, and made with only natural sugar!
Creamy Vegan Gnocchi Ingredients
How to make Creamy Vegan Gnocchi:
- The day before!! Place cashews in a jar or bowl with ¼ of a cup of water to soak. These should soak for 4 hours minimum, but overnight is ideal.
- Dice onion and garlic! I like to throw these in the food processor to finely dice them.
- Cook onions. Cook onions over medium heat in a small amount of olive oil until translucent. I recommend using a large pot (like for making spaghetti) or a deep skillet, like this one.
- Add in garlic! Sauté until fragrant.
- Blend ½ the can of diced tomatoes, cashews (with the water), nutritional yeast, salt and black pepper, and red pepper flakes if using. You will need to blend for 4-5 minutes to ensure the cashews are nice and creamy.
- Add vegetable broth, non-dairy milk, tomato cashew mixture, and remaining diced tomatoes to pan with onions and garlic. For dairy free milk, we prefer cashew milk, flax milk or a lactose free milk, if just dairy free. Mix well to combine.
- Add gnocchi to pan. Pat gnocchi down to ensure they are all covered in sauce. This is where the deeper pan comes in handy.
- Let the creamy sauce come to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, or until gnocchi is soft. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.
- Add basil. Tear or chop the fresh basil and carefully stir into gnocchi. At this point you should have pillowy soft gnocchi so I recommend using a silicon spatula, like this one, to not squash the gnocchi.
- Enjoy! If just dairy free and not vegan, you can add in sausage either at the beginning or cook separately and stir it in.
How long does this dish take? 4 ½ hours total time (10 minutes prep time, 20 minutes cook time, 4 hours to soak cashews)
How much does this make? 4 servings
Does this meet my dietary needs? This recipe is vegan, gluten free, and refined sugar free
How long does this keep? 1 week in fridge
Is it freezer friendly? Yes! 2 months frozen
Can I pack this for lunch? Yup! The best way is to keep in an airtight container next to an ice pack (like this one) and reheated. You can also keep in a thermos like this one is our absolute favorite.
Where do I buy nutritional yeast and what is it? Nutritional yeast can be found at Trader Joe’s, Target, Walmart, and many local grocery stores now, and on Amazon, here. Nutritional Yeast is the deactivated cousin to bakers and brewers yeast. It has a cheesy, nutty flavor, making it perfect for mimicking cheese in this Creamy Vegan Gnocchi. It’s also high in protein! (Source)
Is gnocchi supposed to be chewy? Gnocchi is not supposed to be chewy, but instead should resemble thick mashed potatoes – creamy, but solid in shape.
Does gnocchi have a lot of carbs? Gnocchi is traditionally made from potatoes meaning it has a lot of carbs. There are many cauliflower, kale, and gluten free gnocchi versions now though that have less carbs.
Why did my gnocchi turn out mushy? Gnocchi will become mushy if overcooked. Gnocchi has little to no flour, so there isn’t protein to provide structure to the gnocchi. Once gnocchi begins to break up, it will turn into a mash potato like consistency.
Why did my gnocchi dissolve? Gnocchi will dissolve if left in pasta water too long. Be sure to drain the water from your gnocchi as soon as it’s done cooking to prevent the gnocchi from dissolving.
Gnocchi: Pretty much any type of gnocchi can be used for this. Frozen, potato gnocchi , cauliflower, gluten free, a combo. Some things to keep in mind – when using cauliflower gnocchi, it tends to cook much faster and become soft. Keep an eye on it while cooking or pan fry them first and then mix into the sauce. Regular pasta can also be used but the cook time will be longer to allow for pasta to cook. We love the frozen 40% cauliflower gnocchi at Target and the packaged gluten free Whole Foods gnocchi.
Onion and garlic: Onion and garlic powder could be used in. Pinch but really really hope you can try this with fresh onion and garlic. When making vegan “cheesy” type dishes, the garlic and onion become far more important in aiding in creating a cheese like flavor.
Cashews: If not vegan or dairy free, a combination of cream cheese and whipping cream or half and half can be used. These should equal ½ cup total.
Vegetable Broth: Any broth or vegetable stock can be used or water. If using water, you will need to add additional salt and pepper.
Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes: Regular diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes can be used. Tomato paste mixed with the water recommended on the tomato paste container and chopped fresh tomatoes can also be used.
Nutritional Yeast: Additional parmesan and mozzarella can be used if dairy free. This is NOT the same as active yeast for baking or bread. See recommended one above.
Sun Dried Tomatoes: Sorry, no sub for these. Dried or in oil can be used. They can be omitted if need be. I love the target brand and these.
Basil: Dried basil or minced basil (that comes in a tube) can be used in place of fresh. Fresh spinach would also make a great addition.
Dairy Free Milk: Cashew milk, flax milk, macadamia milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, lactose free milk, or regular milk can be used.
Additions: Vegan sausages makes a great addition to this dish. You can also add a little heat with janalepos, chili flakes, or cayenne pepper.
Cashews come from the cashew tree, native to Brazil. They are often referred to as a nut, but are actually a seed. They are high in protein, high in unsaturated fat (the good kind), and have a mild flavor making them an easy addition to many dishes. (Source).
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Try these other delicious recipes!
- 1/2 of a yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup vegetable stock
- 1 14 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1/3 cup dairy free milk
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 pound gnocchi packaged or frozen
- 1/2 cup whole, unsalted cashews soaked
- 1 handful basil torn
- 2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes in oil or dried
- 1 pinch salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 pound Italian Sausage
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- Prep - Soak cashews in 1/2 cup of water in a jar for a minimum of 4 hours.
- Dice onion and garlic. If using Italian sausage you can cook that with the onions or cook it separate and add at the end.
- Heat sauce pan or deep skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil or avocado oil.
- Saute onion until translucent, 3-4 minutes
- Add garlic to pan and saute until fragrant, 1 minutes
- Blend half of the can of tomatoes, cashews (including water), nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes if using, in a blender until smooth, 4-5 minutes.
- Add vegetable broth, milk, and tomato cream sauce mixture into pan with onion and garlic, add the remaining diced tomatoes, stir. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
- Add gnocchi to the same pan and stir to coat and cover the gnocchi completely in sauce. Allow sauce to come to a boil.
- Once sauce starts to bubble, reduce to simmer and cover. Cook 5 minutes or until gnocchi is fully cooked.
- Uncover and stir carefully as the gnocchi will be tender and will become smooshed easily. Allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes until the gnocchi has cooked through and sauce is thickened.
- Tear basil and add to gnocchi dish. Carefully stir basil into gnocchi.