The most famous question of them all: what’s for dinner tonight? I GET IT. The question we all wish someone else would answer for us 99% of the time.
The good news is, I have the answer. The best answer around. This is the easy dinner recipe you’ll keep in your back pocket for times just like this. Yet it’s so easy and elegant, you’ll be reaching for it on date nights at home, too.
It takes around 20 minutes to make, all in ONE PAN, and even has some veggies thrown in for good measure.
Did you catch the part where I said one pan? Yes, one pan to clean. Ain’t nobody arguing with that.
It’s a dinner dream come true, this one-pot gnocchi recipe. Made with a creamy, luxurious tomato sauce with a handful of spinach tossed in with pillow gnocchi. It’s dreamy and about to become your go-to comfort food dinner.
Ingredients & Substitutions, if needed
Let’s take a closer look at this one-pot “pasta” recipe. It uses 10 simple ingredients that you can easily customize to meet your needs! I think we may have arrived at the weeknight dinner of all dinners! Gnocchi in tomato cream sauce is taking us to the next level.
As always, be sure to see the full recipe card below for all the details.
- Leek & Yellow Onion: they make our aromatic base.
- I use leek in this recipe for variety and depth of flavor, however, I realize that when you’re making a quick dinner you might not have it on hand. In this case, you can substitute yellow onion. Just promise me you’ll try it next time with the leek if you do, ok? It’s just so delish.
- Garlic: adding to the aromatics, there’s no pasta recipe that can be without garlic, is there?
- Cherry Tomatoes: really, you can use cherry or grape tomatoes here. The small tomatoes burst into the sauce and release their juices, contributing to the flavor and texture.
- Spinach: a delicious addition to wilt in at the end, it adds texture, flavor, and nutrients to this pasta recipe. You could also use kale or arugula.
- Gnocchi: this recipe makes things really easy and uses refrigerated gnocchi, found in the fridge section of your local grocery store. You can also use dried, shelf-stable gnocchi.
- White Wine or Vegetable Stock: deglazing a sauce brings a lot of flavor as any caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan get scraped up. A lovely way to do this and add even more flavor is to use white wine.
- If you don’t have wine open, you can also use vegetable stock, which adds loads of flavor too. If you have neither, use water, but be sure to adjust salt levels as needed as there will be less flavor if using water.
- Butter: need I say more?
- Grated Parmesan Cheese: salty, cheesy, and delicious with the flavors we have going on here. I like using grated parmesan as it blends into the sauce best. Check that it’s vegetarian if needed.
- Half and Half (or heavy cream): using one of these is an option, but recommended for the most creamy gnocchi around.
- Readers have commented that they’ve used coconut milk and almond milk for dairy-free substitutes with success, however, I haven’t tried either myself.
Preparing the Leek
If you haven’t worked with leeks before, be sure to see my guide all about leeks to learn more in-depth information on how to cut and clean them. There are two methods for cleaning, which you’ll definitely need to do because they are sandy!
For this recipe, you’ll be slicing the leek, although you can dice it similarly to the onion if you prefer. After you cut the root end and dark tops off of the leek, you’re left with the white and light green parts.
Cut it in half, to form half-circles. At this point, you can rinse them to clean or follow the bowl method.
Either way, proceed and cut the two sides into about 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. As you’ll see in the photo, this results in small half-moon pieces that layer apart.
If proceeding with the bowl method for cleaning, place the slices in a bowl of water. Swirl them around, drain, and rinse once more.
How to Make One-Pan Gnocchi
It’s not quite a throw-it-in-the-one-pan-and-be-done recipe, but it’s just as simple. It’s not a throw-and -go kind of recipe because we are layering in the flavors.
I’ve talked a lot about layering in flavor with salt in recipes before. You’ve got to add the amount of salt you want in a recipe bit by bit throughout the cooking process so the flavors build on each other.
As always, be sure to see the full recipe card below for all the details.
Start with the aromatics
Similar to layering in flavor with salt, the leek and onion cook first. As they sautee and become tender, they develop a lot of flavors.
Add the garlic once they’re slightly tender. And enjoy the lovely aromatics.
Tomatoes Create the Sauce Base
Next, add whole cherry tomatoes to the pan. The tomatoes will start to blister and roast, and their exterior will get wrinkly, possibly crack, or turn a little golden brown. At this point, begin to gently “smash” them using the back of a spoon or spatula.
Smashing them releases the juices and starts to create the tomato cream sauce. After the tomatoes begin to pop, it’s time to deglaze the pan with white wine or stock.
Deglaze is a fun way of saying slowly add the liquid and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan for…you guessed it…flavor!
Add in a few pats of butter. Y’all know we can’t have creamy sauce without butter!
Cook the Gnocchi
Add the gnocchi to the pan, stir to coat in the sauce, and make sure they are in an even layer as much as possible. With the sauce simmering, cover the pan. This helps the gnocchi cook through.
You’ll likely need to cook the gnocchi about 2 minutes longer than the package directions state. Because we aren’t fully submerging the gnocchi in boiling water to cook them, we need to give them extra time.
The Finishing Touches
A minute before the gnocchi is ready, stir in the half-and-half and parmesan cheese until melted into the sauce.
If you prefer it extra saucy, you may need to add more vegetable stock at this point. Some gnocchi seems to soak up more of the liquid than others. As with any recipe, use your best judgment and preferences to create the perfect dish!
Then, add the spinach to the skillet. Stir it into the dish and with the residual heat, it will wilt into the sauce. It adds a beautiful pop of color and, of course, nutrients.
Now that it’s cheesy, creamy, and ready to enjoy, be sure to garnish with some fresh basil or chopped parsley for added freshness and flavor, then dig in and enjoy this super easy, total comfort food, meal.
If your gnocchi is gluten-free, then yes! Be sure to check the packaging, as some brands are made with flour, and others are certified gluten-free.
I haven’t tested it myself but several readers have commented that they have made it with success. Be sure to let us know if you try it!
It will depend on how much liquid your specific gnocchi absorbs. That being said, in the end, this is a thicker sauce recipe. If you want the finished dish to be saucier, add more vegetable stock for a thinner sauce.
Several readers have left feedback that they have tried coconut milk and almond milk to make a dairy-free version of this recipe and had success. I haven’t tried either myself, though. If you do give it a try, be sure to let us know how it goes!
Portions: If you’re serving the gnocchi on its own, it is enough for two hungry-people servings. It can be stretched out to 4 servings with the addition of a side salad, a veggie side, or another “main” dish alongside it.
“Main” Dishes: if you’re looking for a meat main dish to serve alongside, try grilled or baked chicken. The flavors will work well together. Or, add in some cooked ground Italian sausage. It would also work well with white fish or sauteed shrimp.
Side Dishes: a basic green side salad pairs well with this dish, as does the classic caesar salad (don’t forget the homemade croutons!). A hearty vegetable would also work well. Consider one of these options:
Storage and Reheating
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To reheat, I recommend doing so slowly on the stove over medium heat, adding more vegetable broth (or water in a pinch) as needed to thin it out.
If you must reheat it in the microwave, I recommend doing so at half-power or in intervals. In my experience, reheating the gnocchi on high for too long has resulted in some of the gnocchi getting hard.
This dish is definitely best served fresh, but I did test out how it would fare if frozen, and to my surprise, it wasn’t so bad!
If you need to freeze any leftovers, I recommend doing so with a few extra tablespoons of liquid – stock or water – in a freezer-safe container like Souper Cubes. Freezing it with added liquid will create a better consistency for the sauce once it’s reheated and help to prevent the gnocchi from getting too hard.
Reheat from frozen on the stovetop until thawed through. If using the microwave, reheat at 50% for 5-6 minutes, stirring once it’s thawed, until heated through. As with reheating refrigerated leftovers in the microwave, any gnocchi that gets too hot will harden, so be mindful of the heat setting.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe One Pot Creamy Tomato Spinach Gnocchi
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup (40 g) sliced leek, ~1 large leek, white and light green parts
- ½ cup (64 g) yellow onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 10-12 ounces cherry tomatoes, 1 pint, or grape tomatoes
- ¾ cup white wine or vegetable stock*, more stock if needed to thin sauce
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 16 ounces (453 g) gnocchi, refrigerated or dried
- ¼ cup (26 g) grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cups baby spinach, a few handfuls
- ¼ cup half-and-half, room temperature or lukewarm
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Large 12-inch Skillet with Sides – 2 Recommendations:
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. Once hot, add leek and onion and cook for about 3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and remember to continue to add it in layers for flavor! Add garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes until fragrant.3 Tablespoons olive oil, ½ cup sliced leek, ½ cup yellow onion, 3-4 cloves garlic, Salt and pepper
- Add cherry tomatoes; cook until they begin to blister, about 5 minutes, and then begin to smash them down gently with the back of your spoon. Let the juices cook about 1-2 minutes.10-12 ounces cherry tomatoes
- Deglaze the pan with white wine or vegetable stock. Bring it back to a simmer and let it cook down for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the butter to melt.¾ cup white wine or vegetable stock*, 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- Add in the gnocchi, stir to coat in the sauce, and make sure they are in a single layer to cook evenly. Bring to a simmer and cover the pan (use foil or a baking sheet if you don't have a lid) and cook about 2 minutes longer than the package suggests. Since they won't be submerged in boiling water, they generally take a little longer to cook. I usually cook mine for about 4-5 minutes total (*see notes). Stir once or twice, and be sure to taste test, they will be soft and pillowy when done!16 ounces gnocchi
- A minute before the gnocchi is done, stir in parmesan cheese and half-and-half. Then, stir in the spinach until wilted. Add additional vegetable stock if needed for desired consistency.¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, 2 cups baby spinach, ¼ cup half-and-half
- Serve immediately with additional parmesan and/or a garnish of fresh basil or chopped parsley as desired. Enjoy!!
- To cut the leeks: trim off the root end and top stems (where the white turns dark green). Cut lengthwise and lay on the flat side. Cut into 1/2-inch half circles. Clean properly by placing cut pieces in a bowl of water and swish around to remove any dirt and sand. Drain and rinse.
- Serving Size: Makes 2 large portions or 4 smaller portions that are perfect if served with a side or other protein.
- Gnocchi: use either fresh/refrigerated gnocchi from the fresh pasta section of the grocery store, or shelf-stable, dried gnocchi, found in the pasta aisle. Note the cook time of your package. Dried gnocchi will usually soak up more of the liquid, so you may need to add more.
- The Liquid: If your gnocchi absorbs more of the liquid (dried gnocchi tends to), or you’d like it saucier, add water or vegetable stock in 1/4 cup increments at the end until the desired consistency is reached.
- Reheating: I recommend doing so slowly on the stove over medium heat, adding more vegetable broth (or water in a pinch) as needed to thin it out. If you must reheat it in the microwave, do so at half-power or in intervals. In my experience, reheating in the microwave for too long on high power results in some of the gnocchi getting hard. See post for freezing recommendations.
- *Look for cheese specifically labeled vegetarian, if needed. Both BelGioioso and Whole Foods 365 have vegetarian parmesan.
This recipe is part of our Date Night Recipes to Love roundup. Check it out!