Gnocchi Al Pesto with Chicken

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Tonight I wanted gnocchi, but I didn’t have tomato sauce and thought, why not try pesto? Pesto is a classic sauce to put on gnocchi and happens to be one of my favorite sauces. A good pesto will be rich with sweet basil flavor and plenty of garlic, not watered down with too much olive oil. Homemade is always better, but I used store bought (Giovanni Rana is the best I’ve found, though it’s a bit too salty).

As far as what else to put with it, pesto is so flavorful that this dish doesn’t need a lot of extra fun. I decided to add chicken for protein, grape tomatoes for color, fresh basil and Parmesan because they were in my refrigerator and more basil and cheese is always a good thing, in my opinion.

Words of advice: gnocchi dough becomes much moister after it thaws from freezer storage. While it does save time to make extra dough and freeze the rest, just know you will probably need to add more flour before shaping them (perhaps even if you shaped them before freezing them; I usually just freeze dough balls). But be careful not to add too much! The secret to good gnocchi is lightness. Too much flour will make the dumplings heavy and sad. Also, be aware that the oil in store-bought pesto will separate from the rest of the sauce when it heats up, so either let it sit in the pan and be glad you’re not eating all that grease or I suppose you can try to mix it back in (I did the latter and discovered a pool of olive oil at the bottom of my bowl). The best solution would be to make a homemade pesto will little to no oil, but it’s winter and basil is expensive. Oh well.

As always, here’s a basic recipe, no quantities, secret touches kept secret:

  • Homemade gnocchi (see my first post about gnocchi for more information: Gnocchi with Pear and Goat Cheese Sauce)
  • Pesto
  • Chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces, sauteed in olive oil
  • Grape tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh basil, chopped ribbon-style
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese

Boom. That simple.

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