This easy gnocchi with kale recipe is a quick, satisfying dinner that you can modify endlessly. It’s perfect for busy nights when all you want is comfort food with minimal effort.
This gnocchi with kale is filled with all my favorite things: burst cherry tomatoes, fennel, lots of parmesan cheese, and fluffy gnocchi. It’s a dream dinner recipe. The sauce is buttery and aromatic, and you can make so many modifications to suit your preferences.
If you don’t have a fennel bulb or aren’t a fan, simply omit it. Add protein with a cup or two of diced grilled chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken added with the tomatoes. Alternatively, you can fry up loose Italian sausage or ground beef first and return it to the pot with the tomatoes. Chickpeas or cannellini beans can be used to add protein while keeping this recipe vegetarian.
How to make this easy gnocchi with kale recipe:
This recipe is just a few steps.
- Step 1: Cook the aromatics. I use onion and fennel but try it with bell peppers or leeks instead.
- Step 2: Burst the tomatoes in a little sizzling butter. Toss in the garlic and crushed red pepper until the garlic is fragrant.
- Step 3: Add water or stock and then simmer as you cook the gnocchi.
- Step 4: Cook up the gnocchi in a pot of boiling water.
- Step 5: Finish it all up! Add kale, lemon juice, and Parmesan to the sauce, and then add the cooked gnocchi.
I love serving this on a big platter with fresh basil scattered on top. Freshly minced parsley or fresh oregano would also be lovely.
Easy Gnocchi with Kale
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and small-diced; fronds reserved for garnish
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¾ pound cherry or yellow cherry tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or use ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper more or less to taste
- ½ cup water or vegetable stock
- 4 ounces Lacinato kale, torn; or use baby spinach or torn escarole
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese finely grated, plus more for garnish
- 16 ounces store-bought gnocchi
- Fresh basil leaves, optional, for serving
- Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the aromatics:
- Heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Add the onion and diced fennel and sauté for 8–10 minutes or until both begin to soften and darken around the edges. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the tomatoes:
- Melt the butter into the onion and fennel. Once bubbly, add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes until the skins begin to split. Add a sprinkle of salt.
- Turn the heat to medium-high. The tomatoes and aromatics will begin to sizzle loudly. Stir in the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the water or stock and bring it to a boil.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, adding more water as needed if the sauce begins to stick.
Boil the water for the gnocchi:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt.
Finish the sauce:
- Right before cooking the gnocchi, finish the sauce. Add the chopped kale to the sauce. Cook for 3–4 minutes until it just begins to wilt. Add the lemon juice and season again to taste.
Cook the gnocchi:
- Add the gnocchi to the pot of boiling water and cook for 4–5 minutes or until the gnocchi float to the top. Scoop out ½ cup of the gnocchi cooking water and then drain the gnocchi.
Finish the gnocchi:
- Turn the heat on the sauce to medium. Stir the grated Parmesan cheese into the sauce. Once it melts, add the cooked gnocchi and half the cooking water. Cook for 1–2 minutes, turning occasionally, until the gnocchi is well-coated with sauce. Add the remaining pasta cooking water if needed. Turn off the heat.
- Transfer the gnocchi and sauce to a large serving platter. Garnish with a pinch of grated Parmesan and scatter fresh basil leaves and reserved fennel fronds on top. Enjoy!