gnocchi with fresh arugula walnut pesto

You know those certain food memories that you have that come on so strong at the most random of times?

That’s me and pesto gnocchi.

I was nineteen, a freshman in college and just had had my wisdom teeth pulled (four impacted plus dry sockets, thank you very much). I was so intent on feeling better though because the following week, I had the ultimate girl’s trip planned to New York City with my mom, my best friend and my aunt. I don’t care how much your wisdom teeth hurt, YOU DO NOT CANCEL A TRIP TO NEW YORK CITY. Amen. When our plane touched down at LaGuardia, I was still hopped up on pain killers and couldn’t chew on my right side to save my life. Not wanting to ruin the first night of our weekend though, I insisted we go out to dinner so we dined at Bice, a great little Italian restaurant that seems to be all over the place now. Most of the items on the menu required chewing and I was too hungry for just a bowl of minestrone so I ordered the pesto gnocchi, figuring it would be soft enough to go down easy.

Oh, did it ever go down easy! That gnocchi with pesto was, still to this day, one of the very best meals I’ve ever had. Ever. The gnocchi were like little heavenly pillows, and the pesto was delicious as it melted into a soft green blanket on my dumplings.

Unfortunately, when I crave pesto gnocchi almost eight years later we’re in the dead of winter and there’s not a leaf of fresh basil to be found.

Enter arugula! This wintery green makes some vibrant pesto with a hint of peppery spice. It’s a little more robust than basil pesto, but I love it all the same. I like to make mine with walnuts and use just a teeny bit of raw garlic so I can communicate with other humans later in the day.

I also happen to think that Trader Joe’s makes some delicious whole wheat gnocchi that saves me forty-five minutes and a flour covered kitchen. Win.

Grab the recipe over at PBS Food! It’s FRIDAYYYYY! (P.S. save extra pesto—you’ll need it next week!)

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  • Caroline @ chocolate & carrots
    January 27, 2012 at 3:26 am

    I’ve been told to bump up my Omega-3’s and walnuts are my nut of choice! Perfecto! This gnocchi and pesto is a must make for me! And I totally feel for you with the wisdom teeth. That was an awful experience. I’m glad you were able to find something delicious to eat! Yay gnocchi! 😀

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    January 27, 2012 at 3:27 am

    That pesto is so vibrant and green and makes me wanna dive into it! I love that you used arugula in it and I like mixing up my leaves for pesto, too. And walnuts vs. pine nuts…sounds great, Jenna!

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb
    January 27, 2012 at 3:39 am

    pesto and gnocchi is a match made in heaven!!

    (and i am equally obsessed with cowgirl creamery… yes, i noticed the spoon!)

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    January 27, 2012 at 3:52 am

    I love pesto! Lately I’ve been making some and freezing it in ice trays so I can throw it into marinara sauces and recipes that call for it. I love the story you’ve told in this post Jenna! I agree – I wouldn’t pass up a trip to NYC either!

  • Joelle (on a pink typewriter)
    January 27, 2012 at 4:27 am

    This looks delisssssssssssssssh! Love gnocchi, but sometimes it’s too heavy for me. Must try this though..and now i’m dying to know what we’re going to do w more pesto next week.. 😉

    Oh, and you’re right – never cancel on NYC. I’m going tonight, as a matter of fact!

  • Molly @ RDexposed
    January 27, 2012 at 4:29 am

    When I had all 4 wisdom teeth removed along with 2 dry sockets, I ate instant mashed potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Gnocchi was nowhere on my menu!

    • Elisabeth
      January 27, 2012 at 5:50 am

      Yep – same here with the mashed potatoes! I had all 4 of mine pulled 4 years ago and ate nothing but mashed potatoes from KFC (ew!) and Wendy’s Frosties and butterscotch pudding for 7 days!

  • Blog is the New Black
    January 27, 2012 at 5:06 am

    It’s not the gnocchi….. it’s the pesto… LOVE pesto. I die!

  • Em
    January 27, 2012 at 5:31 am

    I love pesto, but have developed a pine nut allergy, so this will be terrific! Way to go on that PBS gig!

  • Kristin @ FoodFash
    January 27, 2012 at 5:32 am

    I love how colorful this dish is! And the fact that it has seasonally appropriate ingredients is pretty awesome too.

  • Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables
    January 27, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Arugula pesto has been showing up all over the place, I think it’s time I gave it a try!

  • christie
    January 27, 2012 at 5:43 am

    love the NYC trip shoutout!! miss you!! recipe looks amazing per usual…

  • HRCK the Herald
    January 27, 2012 at 5:51 am

    I love pesto, and these bright green pictures are so, so pretty! Great post. Glad you rallied in New York City, too. Wouldn’t expect anything less from you 🙂

  • Erika - The Teenage Taste
    January 27, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Ooooh, homemade pesto is the best! I love that you used arugula instead of basil – I bet it tastes fabulous!

  • Tabitha (From Single to Married)
    January 27, 2012 at 5:53 am

    It really is amazing the power that food has on our memories. And I’m glad that your memory of this dish was a good one (pain killers and all)!

  • Bev Weidner
    January 27, 2012 at 6:08 am

    Fah-rickin’ LOVE arugula walnut pesto. Just give me a shovel.

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    January 27, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Oh my, this looks like heaven!

  • Urban Wife
    January 27, 2012 at 6:36 am

    My post-wisdom teeth extraction diet consisted of ice cream for 2 days straight. It was heaven.

  • Emily (Edible Psychology)
    January 27, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Yum! I just made a walnut pesto yesterday too, but with very different ingredients. I’ll have to try this one next time. I love the color! 🙂

    Happy Friday!

  • Lauren @ What Lauren Likes
    January 27, 2012 at 6:55 am

    love the colour! Happy Friday!

  • Cait's Plate
    January 27, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Anything with gnocchi and pesto and I’m in. This looks absolutely incredible.

  • Heather @ Girlyeverafter
    January 27, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Trader Joe’s always has the best stuff. I’ve had gnocchi a handful of times at restaurants but never think to get it for a dinner at home. Must put on the meal plan for next week!

  • Margarita
    January 27, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Yummm! Arugula pesto… Very creative. Looking forward to trying this!

  • Cat @Breakfast to Bed
    January 27, 2012 at 7:26 am

    I want to paint my walls that color.

  • Erica @ In and Around Town
    January 27, 2012 at 7:28 am

    What a great sub for basil. I am a huge fan of pesto and will eat in just about everything. Somehow it just makes every dish seem more special – that and I freeze it for later when I am having the craving!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    January 27, 2012 at 7:39 am

    The best thing about pesto is how versatile it is. Middle of winter? Arugula or frozen peas! Summer? Basil, spinach or whatever green thing is growing outside your house! Love this 🙂

  • elizabeth @ the kitchen counsel
    January 27, 2012 at 7:41 am

    this looks amazing! i definitely want to give arugula pesto a go–i keep seeing it at my grocery store.

  • Carolyn
    January 27, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Looks super tasty! Can’t wait to make it. I love pesto, and I love gnocchi, why haven’t I put the two together before?!

    Also, I was wondering, have you decided not to write about the books you’re reading anymore? I always enjoyed those posts too : )

    • jenna
      January 27, 2012 at 8:32 am

      It’s because I haven’t read anything! I’ve just been so busy. I started a new book yesterday (finally!) and will write a review of it when I finish it though.

  • Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles
    January 27, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Gnocci is pretty great. This looks super fab, although I still have half a dozen jars of pesto frozen from last summer’s garden I have to use before I am allowed further pesto experimentation. Soon though. Soon.

  • LazyHealthy
    January 27, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Seriously, I could put pesto like that on a cardboard box and eat it.

  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing
    January 27, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Good gnochi is my absolute favorite comfort food ever! Poorly made it can be dense and chewy but made properly, it’s like little pillows of heaven!! Thanks for sharing Jenna.

  • Penny @ Big Spoon, Little Spoon
    January 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Ohmygosh I had dry sockets from my wisdom teeth too. Worst freaking pain EVERRRRRRR. Im so impressed that you powered through for NY. I just went foetal for about three days.

    Question…. you said the Trade Joes gnocchi was whole wheat…. does gnocchi usually contain wheat in addition to spuds? Thanks!

  • Liz @ Southern Charm
    January 27, 2012 at 8:28 am

    I just ran across another recipe with arugula pesto. Love it!! Especially since I have a stock of arugula in my fridge! Yum!

  • sherri
    January 27, 2012 at 8:43 am

    oh gno you didn’t… yummy!

  • Angie @ Bigbearswife
    January 27, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for this recipe!

  • Jen @ Whittle My Middle
    January 27, 2012 at 9:26 am

    This looks fantastic! Such a good idea if you don’t have basil and pine nuts on hand.

  • jamie @ balancedpalate
    January 27, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I just got arrugula in my CSA box this week and I said the same exact thing/ That I want to make pesto! And I was thinking walnuts too! And garlic! Mmm! So excited to make this now!

  • Laura @ She Eats Well
    January 27, 2012 at 11:02 am

    The pesto looks beautiful. And I love using walnuts as a base in pesto. I also LOVE arugula, so this will definitely be made in my kitchen soon. Love that spice that arugula has…!

  • Laurie {Simply Scratch}
    January 27, 2012 at 11:28 am

    You could cover a shoe in that pesto and I’d eat it! Love the color!

  • TeenyLittleSuperChef
    January 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    For some reason I would have never thought to substitute arugula for basil when it comes to making a pesto. Duh! THanks for the great idea. I love me some pesto. Sometimes I don’t even waste my time with putting it in or on anything and just lick it straight from the bowl. One can do that when she is the person making the dish, am I right? Every now and then I’m nice enough to share. Especially if the bribe of washing the dishes at the end of the night is involved 🙂

  • Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts
    January 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    The pesto is such a pretty color! What a great memory from college! Never cancel a girls trip – that is for sure!

  • Katie
    January 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I am obsessed with arugula…this looks insane!

  • Moni'sMeals
    January 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    If pesto always looked like this Jenna, I would eat it daily! What a great recipe..random yes, but terrific. 🙂

  • Mel @ Post Grad Mel
    January 27, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    When I studied abroad in Florence, I took a weekend trip up to Cinque Terre (the birthplace of pesto!) and fell in love. I had pesto pizza, pesto with gnnochi, pesto pasta…you name it! I pretty much ate pesto at every meal. I have however, NEVER made my own. It’s on my bucket list!

  • Krissy @ Krissy's Creaions
    January 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    If this is the best meal you’ve had then that means I’m going to be making it asap! Like, I mean…. tonight!

    January 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Book mark! I must make this. I love pesto.

  • Angela @ Happy Fit Mama
    January 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I used to hate potatoes but loved gnocchi. Little did I know they’re one in the same!

    I could put pesto on cardboard and say it was the greatest thing ever! I’m making this soon!

  • Liz
    January 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Great story! Your teeth couldn’t have been that bad, though, if your face wasn’t so swollen you couldn’t be seen in public. 🙂

  • Emily @ Life on Food
    January 28, 2012 at 3:46 am

    Pesto never gets old and it is so versatile.

  • Joss
    January 28, 2012 at 10:02 am

    mmmm I love pesto

  • Katie @ Epicurean Mom
    January 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I love pesto! This dish is incredible vibrant and gorgeous!!

  • Living The Sweet Life
    January 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    fabulous pictures!! The pop of the pesto is beautiful. This is such a simple but wonderful meal 🙂

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