The longer I cook, the more I become convinced that some of the best meals out there are those impromptu dig,-into-the-far-reaches-of-the-pantry, scavenger-through-the-fridge, pull-out-a-little-of-this-and-a-little-of-that, and let’s-see-what-we-can-cobble-together-for-dinner kind of dinners.
You know, the ones with a handful of random ingredients, a dash of hope, and zero recipe in sight.
My favorite kind of kitchen adventure. :)
Occasionally they yield massive failures and turn into prime nights for take-out. But more often than not, something a little magical seems to happen. And the meals that I thought were going to be mere “meh” turn out to be freaking magnificent. These green bowls were a delicious case in point. So much so that I had to turn them into an actual recipe to share with you, because I’m pretty convinced you need them in your life too.
Meet my Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts, Chicken Sausage, and (the most delicious) Kale Basil Pesto.
I had thought that we were long past fresh basil season. But when I was passing by our neighborhood garden the other day, I caught sight of a few leafy plants and decided to carpe basil for one last round of pesto. For something different, though, I added in a few big handfuls of fresh kale and some toasted walnuts, instead of pine nuts.
Let’s just say that I’m pretty sure you could add this to any dish, and call it a winner. Ridiculously good!
Also good? These mini potato gnocchi, which I’ve been obsessed with this year. Regular-sized gnocchi would probably be more appropriate for a dish like this. But hey, I was cleaning out the pantry, and they’re super cute. And they tasted fab.
(Also, fun fact — I found out when I was visiting DeLallo last week that they’re actually pronounced ny-ahhh-kee, not ny-oh-kee. Did you know this?!)
When paired with some tasty chicken sausage (you can use any kind) and some Brussels sprouts (which you can saute or roast) and that magical pesto…
And then this happens.
And then I want to run to the store and re-buy all of the ingredients so that it can all happen again. :)
Seriously, do yourself a favor and please make a batch of this. It’s simple to make, it’s so comforting, it’s so flavorful, and it’s bound to become a new favorite for dinner. (Also, bonus, if you make this using gluten-free gnocchi, it can be a great meal to serve for a weeknight dinner or party that’s GF!)
Makes me want to clean out the pantry more often. ;)
Prepare Kale Basil Pesto according to instructions below.
Cook the gnocchi in a large stockpot of salted boiling water according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
While the gnocchi is cooking, cook the chicken sausage in a saute pan according to package instructions. Once it has finished cooking, transfer the sausage to a separate plate and slice it on the diagonal into bite-sized pieces.
In the same saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add Brussels sprouts and saute for 5-6 minutes, stirring and flipping occasionally, until it is cooked through and begins to brown. Remove from heat.
Combine gnocchi, Brussels sprouts and Kale Basil Pesto in the stock pot, and toss until combined. Serve warm, garnished with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.
To Make The Kale Basil Pesto:
Add kale, basil, walnuts, Parmesan, salt and garlic to a food processor, and pulse until combined. Drizzle in the olive oil, while still pulsing the food processor, until the pesto is smooth. Serve.
However you pronounce it, I love gnocchi – little potato pillows of deliciousness!
HOLD.THE.PHONE. This is seriously all of my favorite things in one dish! I would have never thought of adding brussels to a gnocchi dish but it sounds INCREDIBLE! This is definitely happening in our household VERY soon :)
Haha awesome Leah, we hope you love it! :)
Maybe this would get my husband to eat brussels sprouts?? I love all the pesto in this!
We hope so Sues! :)
Random question- What kind of food processor do you use? I’ve been looking for a good high-powered one.
I have a Magimix and LOVE IT. It was a bit of an investment, but I’ve had it for years and it still works like a champ.
Pesto makes anything better! Love the simplicity of the dish and love love love gnocchi!
Thanks Stephanie, that’s exactly how we feel! : ) We hope you enjoy the recipe!
I’ve been pronouncing it wrong my whole life?! Thanks for correcting me!! I’m in major need of a huge pantry clean out but I’m pretty sure it would never result in this delicousness! Love it when random kitchen adventures turn into a fantastic recipe!
Thanks Senika, we hope you enjoy this!
This looks delicious. I love brussels sprouts with pasta – one of my favorite combos actually and the kale pesto looks incredible. I also like that this is a whole meal right here!
Thanks Becki, we hope you love it!
Yum! I love that you used kale in your pesto. Just another way to fill up on dark leafy greens. I am pretty sure I could stuff my face with this dish! Beautiful pictures, as always :).
Thanks Emily, we hope you enjoy the recipe!
This was so yummy! I had fun helping you make it! Also…did they say what region of Italy it’s pronounced like that?? When I lived in Florence I didn’t hear anyone say it like that!
Thanks Rachel, we’re so glad you enjoyed this! :)
I had this bookmarked before I even finished reading the page, anything with brussels-sprouts in it is a winner for me.
Josh | The Kentucky Gent
Definitely making this – gnocchi is my love language. BUT I think I might go the quick route and use prepared pesto from Costco :)
Awesome Emily, we hope you love this! And store-bought pesto is definitely an acceptable quick route. ;)
This looks amazing. Any idea how long the kale pesto will last in the fridge? Or can it be frozen?
Thank you Toby, we hope you enjoy! Yes, you can freeze the pesto, in the fridge it should last about a week, possibly longer. :)
Made this tonight. Was good but a little on the bitter side. I would recommend adding grape tomatoes while mixing to add some sweetness.
Thanks Ian, we’re sorry it came out a little bit bitter, we haven’t experienced that before. Thank you for sharing, and for giving the recipe a try!
Would the pesto consistency still work if I left out the Parmesan? I have a dairy allergy and am not into the whole vegan cheese thing. Or is there something I could add in instead of the cheese? Super excited to make this!!!
Yep, it definitely will! : ) So you can actually just sub nutritional yeast for the parm – we’d suggest 2-3 TBS. We hope you enjoy!
I ended up making the pesto with spinach (I hate kale), and polenta underneath (instead of gnocchi, grocery store was out of stock!). It was delicious, and a really good gluten free option for non-pasta eaters!
That sounds delicious Alex, we’re glad you were able to modify this and enjoy it! :D
I LOVE Kale, but my husband is not the biggest fan always. I’m sure you could use about any green with it and it would be great, but do you have another favorite you’d suggest? Thank you!
Hi Samantha! We would suggest trying a Swiss chard or spinach pesto – we hope this helps, and that you guys enjoy this! :)
This is one of the BEST THINGS I made all last year. Also, I love any excuse to eat brussels sprouts. So glad I stumbled across your site. Thanks for the awesome recipe!
Awww thanks so much Meghan, that’s such a nice compliment and we’re thrilled that you loved this! :)
Great Recipe. Made it with homemade Gnocchi and Sweet Italian sausage.
We’re so happy you enjoyed this Andy! :)
This looks amazing and I’m definitely making it this week. I have a question though – my husband is allergic to nuts. Will the pesto still be good if I leave them out? Or is there something I should use instead?
Thanks Jerrell — we hope you enjoy it! And yes, you can totally make pesto without nuts — we love this recipe! :D
I know this was a fall recipe, but I made it for a quick dinner tonight and it is definitely a winner in our house!! Thank you for a delicious (basically) one pot veggie filled dinner!
We’re so happy you and your family enjoyed it KC! :D
This might be a stupid question, but what is gnocchi?
Hi Jillian — it’s a pasta (looks and tastes like a little dumpling), and it’s made with potato.
I made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious! I made your regular pesto recipe since I didn’t have kale and it was so flavorful and summery! This was also very easy to make and I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow. I will definitely keep this in my summer rotation. Thanks for sharing!
My mouth just exploded with a happy dance! I used everything’s Trader Joe’s; Spicy Italian chicken sausage, frozen cauliflower gnocchi, frozen True Belgian baby Brussels sprouts and vegan kale, cashew and basil pesto. Amazing and so easy to throw together ~
So I substituted a few things. Essentially the same recipe but with a few swap outs from Trader Joe’s! Spicy Italian chicken sausage, cauliflower gnocchi, baby Brussel sprouts and kale, basil and cashew pesto (already prepared). Super simple and oh so tasty and healthy. I’m in Love with this recipe!
It was yummy! I love your recipes. I used this as a guideline for what I had in the house. Kale, almonds, tangerine peel(!), cilantro, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Thinned down with some pasta water. And I ended up putting the brussel sprouts and spicy Italian sausage on the side.
And I used cavatappi pasta. Like I said, what was in the house. Shopping day is tomorrow.